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California Supreme Court takes case challenging secrecy of license plate reader data

The California Supreme Court agreed to consider a lawsuit by the EFF and ACLU of Southern California asking for a week’s data of the automated license plate readers collected by Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s departments. The two groups are also contesting a lower court  finding that license plates scans were records of ongoing investigations […]

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Florida doctors lose free speech right to discuss gun ownership with patients

The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Florida could enforce its law muzzling doctors who wish to speak with patients about gun ownership and safety issues. The dissenting judge thought the law violated doctors’ free speech rights. “Doctors’ jobs are hard enough when the state does not enact laws that force them […]

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Georgia college president pays for violating student’s civil rights

An ex-student at Valdosta State University in Georgia won a $900,000 settlement in a First Amendment case. Without due process, the college’s president expelled Hayden Barnes in 2007 for a satirical Facebook posting protesting the plans for constructing two parking garages on campus. (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, July 23, 20125, press release) A […]

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Free speech concerns force San Diego to retrench on tobacco regulation

San Diego dropped its ban on tobacco ads within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, arcades, rec centers and child care facilities. The National Association of Tobacco Outlets alerted the city to a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court allowing truthful commercial speech promoting legal products. The city is retaining its restrictions on the sale of tobacco at […]

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Free speech issue bubbles up with San Francisco regulation of sugary soft drinks

A soda pop trade organization sued San Francisco to overturn laws banning ads on city property and requiring warning labels on sugary beverages with the words “…added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”  The American Beverage Association claims the law banning the industry’s ads violates their free speech rights. (San Francisco Chronicle, July […]

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Associated Press announces modern history news archive on YouTube

The Associated Press is putting on YouTube over 550,000 video clips of historic events as far back as 1895. It will be the largest compilation of news content on YouTube. (Variety, July 22, 2015, by Todd Spangler) In a press release, AP said the archives will be a great public service, enabling not only documentary […]

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Use of police bodycams has potential to enhance public trust

In techdirt, July 22, 2015, Mike Masnick holds that the use of police body cams can only improve transparency and public trust in law enforcement if the footage is free of tampering. Questions have surfaced about the recently released video of the arrest of Sandra Bland in Texas that many think was edited. A video […]

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Transparency: Homeland Security used private e-mail accounts

The secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) and many of his staff have been using private e-mail at work for over a year, much to the dismay of security experts and open government advocates. The DHS banned the use of private e-mail in April of 2014, but staffers obtained waivers last year allowing them to check […]

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California lawmakers target reckless drone pilots interfering with efforts to quell forest fires

Amateur drone pilots in Southern California are hurting firefighting efforts and endangering pilots of air tankers dropping flame retardant. The pilots are flouting rules set up in cooperation with news helicopters whose pilots go through extensive training and are in contact with firefighters when reporting on fires. (The New York Times, July 19, 2015, by […]

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Federal agencies to expand access to information from FOIA requests

Seven federal agencies announced a trial program to publish documents in response to a preponderance of online Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The program known as “Release-to-One is Release-to-All” means that the release of information from FOIA requests will be open to the public. (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, July 9, 2015, […]

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