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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. The American Beverage Association claims the law banning the industry’s ads violates their free speech rights. (San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2015, by Emily Green) The beverage industry is trying to claim […]

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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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First Amendment challenge of California ban on handgun displays gets boost from federal judge

A federal district court judge ruled that a California law restricting handgun-related speech most likely violates the First Amendment. The judge left the law in place while the legal battle continues. (The Calguns Foundation, July 16, 2015) A consultant in the case, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy in The Washington Post, July […]

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Laura Poitras

Documentary filmmaker sues for answers to government harassment

In the absence of a satisfactory response to her Freedom of Information Act requests, Laura Poitras, a prize-winner documentary filmmaker, is suing the government to find out why they searched, questioned and detained her over 50 times in airports in the U.S. and abroad. The scrutiny began in 2006 while she was working on a […]

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