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Lawsuit filed for data on escalating Homeland Security searches of cell phones and laptops

Homeland Security is facing a federal lawsuit for access to its records on how they search cellphones and  laptops at border crossings.  Civil liberties advocates are concerned that when the government pries into personal electronic devices they are infringing on citizens’ constitutional rights. The lawsuit contends, “Subjecting that information [on electronic devices] to unfettered government […]

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Assault on free speech: California law would ban ‘fake news’

The California State Assembly is considering A.B. 1104 that would make it illegal to publish fake news online about issues before voters in an election and fake news concerning election candidates. Assemblyman Ed Chau is concerned about the impact of lies circulated through social media during the 2016 election. (Electronic Frontier Foundation, March 27, 2017, […]

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Trump sued for information on personal debts

In pressing for transparency in President Donald Trump’s financial affairs, a Washington lawyer is suing him for muddling the extent of his personal debts in a federal financial disclosure form in 2016. Trump mixed personal debts with loans made to his businesses or development projects so the public cannot tally his personal indebtedness separate from […]

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U.S. Supreme Court extends copyright in designs in cheerleader uniform case

Varsity Brand won a 6-2 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the company to copyright two-dimensional combinations of stripes, chevrons and color blocks on cheerleading uniforms. Copyright law protects features separate from the “utilitarian aspects of an object.” The ruling is expected to affect the entertainment industry in disputes over merchandise and fashion. (Hollywood Reporter, March […]

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California: Local newspaper loses $1.1 million libel suit

The Cal Coast News lost a $1.1 million  libel suit over a story alleging illegal activity committed by a hazardous waste contractor. The newspaper said their witnesses, anonymous sources, could not testify since they had died or lived outside the area. The jury ruled 11-1 on actual damages and 10-2 on punitive damages. (The Tribune, […]

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California open government roundup: Columnist claims Brown Act throttles free speech

Columnist Joe Mathews argues that modern elected city government officials rely on negotiations to accomplish their business so some view the Brown Act, California’s open government law, as an obstacle. The act prevents complete city councils from participating in negotiations and since it covers only public meetings, deals are often made in private without public […]

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Free speech manifestos surface on James Madison’s birthday

Harvard’s Cornel West and Princeton’s Robert P. George are asking people of all walks to sign a statement affirming free speech and openness, to listen to those who “challenge our views.” “All of us should be willing—even eager—to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering […]

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Researchers bid for transparency at Food and Drug Administration

A group of prominent researchers created a transparency plan for the Food and Drug Administration “to advance the development of safe and effective new products.” Their report makes recommendations in five major areas: “The FDA should disclose more information about key milestones in the application process; …disclose more of its analysis and decision-making, …disclose more […]

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First Amendment: Trump claims TV news commentator violated law in revealing tax return

After MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow discussed a copy of two pages of President Donald Trump’s tax return from 2005, Trump called the move a ratings “stunt” and illegal. In fact, federal law makes it illegal to publish an unauthorized tax return. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment allowed disclosure of information when privacy is […]

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Homeland Security calls anti-Trump ‘riot’ a terrorist event

A Homeland Security report linked a Trump election protest to “domestic terrorist violence” occurring across the country. The protest resulted in damage to stores in Portland’s Pearl District. (The Oregonian, March 2, 2017, by Eder Campuzano with contributions by Jim Ryan and Samantha Matsumoto) The ACLU sees a danger in labeling the protest that only […]

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