Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Australian Networks Censor Community Education Website

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

UPDATE 2013-04-12: Apparently as a result of this blog post, social media attention, and questions from the Australian Greens to the Australian Federal Attorney General's Department, the block has been lifted. But there has not yet been any explanation of why these 1,200 sites were blocked in the first place.

EFF has long opposed Australia's Internet censorship schemes, warning that even the voluntary filtering that has been implemented by Australia's largest ISPs, Telstra and Optus, lacks transparency and accountability, and could lead to collateral damageaccidental censorship of websites that are not violating the law in any way. A dramatic example of such collateral damage appears to be occuring at the moment.

EFF was recently contacted by the organisers of a community group called the Melbourne Free University (MFU) because their site appears to have been blocked or censored by Australian network operators, possibly at the request of the Australian government. Users from some (but not all) Australian ISPs have been unable to reach the Melbourne Free University site since Thursday the 4th of April. An employee of one of the affected ISPs told MFU by email that the site was blocked as a result of an order ...

Texas A&M Student Body President Vetoes Opt-Out Bill for Funding Student Organizations

Thursday, April 11th, 2013


AggieLand Water Tower - Wikimedia Commons

On April 3, the Texas A&M University Student Senate approved a measure that would allow students to choose not to fund specific student groups. Specifically, the bill allowed "students who object, for religious and moral purposes, to the use of their student fees and tuition to fund various services to opt out of paying an amount equal to their share of the service funding from their fee and tuition money." The bill was originally titled the "GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill" because its initial version only provided a choice not to fund the school's GLBT Resource Center. That language was cut after criticism that the bill was discriminatory on the basis of viewpoint. However, recognizing that the revised bill was still problematic, Student Body President John Claybrook vetoed it on April 4.

Supporters of the bill argued that students should not be required to fund organizations to which they object on religious grounds. But there are several reasons why this particular bill is not the appropriate answer to that concern.

First, the bill's origin as a measure that specifically targeted the GLBT Center presented a clear viewpoint neutrality problem. Allowing students to choose to avoid ...

What We’re Up Against: Software Lobby SIIA Spends Big to Stop CFAA Reform

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

To date, thousands of people have sent messages to Congress demanding reform of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act through EFF alone, not counting the ones sent through our friends at Demand Progress and elsewhere. But the citizens of the Internet will need to shout even louder if we’re going to drown out the corporate interests that have already dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence lawmakers to change the CFAA for the worst.

Take action to fix computer crime law.

Take, for example, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), which describes itself as “the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry.” The group’s board of directors is made up of the captains of the computing industry, including executives from Oracle, Adobe, IBM, Red Hat and Intuit, each of which pay up to $125,000 a year in dues to the SIIA.  In 2012 alone, the SIIA dropped a whopping $880,000 to lobby Congress and federal agencies on digital issues.

In August 2012, before Aaron Swartz’s death, SIAA provided the federal government’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator with 19 pages of formal comments on the national policy on cyber affairs. One section is titled, “Preserving and Improving the Computer Fraud and Abuse ...

Thomas Jefferson Center Announces 2013 ‘Muzzle’ Awards

Thursday, April 11th, 2013


Art by Sam Welty, Photo Courtesy of the TJ Center

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Charlottesville, Virginia dedicated to protecting free speech, has just announced its 2013 "Jefferson Muzzle" award winners. Each year, the Muzzles highlight especially egregious examples of government censorship.

In 2008, for example, a Muzzle was awarded to Valdosta State University’s then-President, Ronald Zaccari, for retaliating against student Hayden Barnes for his protected speech. Torch readers may remember that FIRE helped Barnes throughout the battle that eventually ended with a jury finding Zaccari personally liable for violating Barnes' due process rights. 

This year's winners include the North Carolina General Assembly, for expanding a state anti-bullying statute to prohibit a range of speech about teachers, including criticisms of teachers that are rooted in facts. As the TJ Center points out, "the law discourages respect for free speech by teaching young people that government officials are above criticism." This is exactly the kind of unlearning liberty that FIRE works to prevent in the higher education context. 

Read the full list of winners on the TJ Center’s website

Student’s Career Threatened After School Punishes Him for Profanity Outside of Class (VIDEO)

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

In 2010, Isaac Rosenbloom complained to a fellow student after his Oral Communications class that a grade he received on an assignment was "going to fuck up [his] entire GPA." Rosenbloom's professor at Hinds Community College in Mississippi overheard the comment, threatened him with "detention" (which Hinds, like most colleges, did not have), and submitted a disciplinary complaint to the school. Rosenbloom—a husband and father of two children—was found guilty of "flagrant disrespect" and involuntarily withdrawn from the class, causing him to lose his financial aid eligibility and threatening his paramedic training. With FIRE's help, Rosenbloom was able to obtain assistance from attorneys Robert B. McDuff and Sibyl Byrd, who helped secure a settlement in his favor.

"If it wasn't for FIRE," says Rosenbloom in our latest video, "I wouldn't have a career. I would be delivering pizzas instead of saving lives."

Johns Hopkins Reverses Decision, Recognizes Pro-Life Group

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

As recounted in today's press release, the Johns Hopkins University student government's judiciary committee has unanimously reversed the decision of the university's student senate to deny recognition to the prospective student group Voice for Life (VFL) on the basis of the group's expression. FIRE has previously covered this case on The Torch, and wrote to the Student Government Association (SGA) Judiciary Committee on Monday urging this outcome in advance of VFL's Tuesday afternoon hearing.

As we summarized in the letter (links below have been added), the SGA denied VFL recognition based on two improper factors related to VFL's expression:

The SGA denied VFL re-recognition, however, based on its pro-life message and activities, specifically because 1) the club's website contained a link to the website of an outside organization known for displaying large, graphic abortion-related images, and 2) the group's proposed "sidewalk counseling" allegedly conflicted with Johns Hopkins' policies on harassment. The SGA has been explicit about its viewpoint-based reasons for rejecting VFL. The minutes from the March 12 meeting at which VFL was denied recognition refer to concerns about "making people feel uncomfortable," and later emails from unidentified SGA officials released by the national organization Students for Life ...

CBLDF Raises New Defense of Persepolis

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Persepolis1CoverChicago Public Schools may think their letter regarding the attempted ban of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis provides an adequate defense for their actions, but today’s letter from the Kids Right to Read Project unquestionably eviscerates CPS’s argument. CBLDF is a sponsor of KRRP and a signatory in this latest volley protesting the removal of the book.

The entirety of the letter is embedded below. NCAC sent the following press release regarding this latest move to protect Persepolis:

NCAC To Chicago Officials: Stop Stonewalling on Constitutionally Suspect PERSEPOLIS Removal

PERSEPOLIS, once featured in CPS-endorsed “Speak Truth to Power” Human Rights Curriculum, now facing domestic censorship

NEW YORK — The Chicago Public Schools may be hoping their sudden removal of Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS (Pantheon) last month will be soon forgotten, but the Kids’ Right to Read Project, an initiative of the National Coalition Against Censorship, continues to seek answers. In a response letter sent to CPS counsel, administrators, board members, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, NCAC further questioned the district on its motives and procedures, or lack thereof, surrounding the removal.

The Kids’ Right to Read Project also filed a second Freedom of Information Act records request with the district today for internal ...

ComiXology Chief: “Apple Didn’t Ban Saga #12.” Comic Available on iOS

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

saga12review-1After a day of controversy about Saga #12 being banned in the Apple iOS environment, word comes from comiXology CEO David Steinberger that the issue is now available and that Apple did not in fact ban the comic, but that comiXology did not make the issue available due to a misunderstanding of Apple’s policies.

Steinberger writes:

To our customers -

In the last 24 hours there has been a lot of chatter about Apple banning Saga #12 from our Comics App on the Apple App Store due to depictions of gay sex. This is simply not true, and we’d like to clarify.

As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps.  Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today.

We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.

Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12.

After hearing from Apple this morning, we can say ...

Apple Goes on Censorship Spree

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Izneo logoOnce again, European attitudes towards nudity and sex have clashed with an American business behemoth. Last time, it was Facebook and Paris’ Jeu de Paume museum; this time, it’s Apple and a French distributor of e-comics.

Izneo is a digital platform for comics from several French and Belgian publishers. In addition to hosting comics on its own website, Izneo also offers apps for Android, Windows, and Apple’s iOS. But last week, an anonymous source from Izneo told ebook news site IDBOOX that someone from Apple contacted Izneo to say that they had 30 hours to remove undefined objectionable material from the app or it would be banned from the AppStore. Izneo asked for clarification as to which of its more than 4,000 comics posed a problem, but Apple refused to elaborate. Seeing little alternative, Izneo removed from the app every single comic that included “a breast, provocative cleavage, a curve, or a suggestive gesture.” This was likely overkill, but seeing as Apple refused to define what it considered objectionable, Izneo decided to operate on the assumption of maximum prudishness. In the end, only about 1,200 of the original 4,000 comics remained. Since the original purge, Izneo has begun to test ...

Florida Atlantic U. Students and Faculty Demonstrate in Support of Academic Freedom

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Yesterday, students and faculty gathered on the campus of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to demonstrate in support of academic freedom and Professor Deandre Poole, who has been placed on a highly suspect "administrative leave" after conducting an in-class exercise where he asked students to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and then step on the paper. According to an email received by FIRE, a major purpose of the demonstration, which was organized by a group calling itself "Academic Freedom at FAU," was to convey the message that for many students and faculty on campus, the "FAU Administration does not speak for us!"

There are many different angles to this complicated case, in which the FAU administration seems to have taken hasty and ill-advised actions against both a student and a professor out of a desire to avoid public opprobrium. But whatever your views on the student's and the professor's actions, it is nice to see someone on campus acknowledging that the administration has made a total hash of the controversy, and doing so in a way that honors the tradition of free speech and open debate on campus.

Why SAGA #12 Is Protected By the First Amendment

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

saga12review-1Yesterday, word quickly spread about Apple banning the sale of Saga #12 on iOS apps such as comiXology because of two small depictions of gay sexual content within the context of a larger sequence of images. The images in question appear on the faceplate of the character Prince Robot IV, who possesses a television monitor for a head, while he lies wounded on a battleground. The two images are reproduced below, and both feature NSFW content.

saga 12-1saga 12-2As I wrote yesterday in our story covering Apple’s ban, it is within Apple’s rights as a private company to refuse to carry the comic.  The same is true of any brick and mortar retailer who refuses to carry the book — it’s their business prerogative to determine what they choose to offer.

That said, it’s important to note that while the images are sexually explicit, they and the issue that contains them are protected by the First Amendment. Retailers have a right to sell Saga #12, readers have a right to possess it, and the creators and publisher had the right to create it.

For Saga #12 to be unprotected by the First Amendment, it would need to be found legally obscene ...

How the Sentencing Guidelines Work Against Defendants in CFAA Cases

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

In the wake of social justice activist Aaron Swartz's tragic death, EFF and Internet users around the country are in the middle of a week-of-action, asking Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal anti-hacking law. The CFAA has many problems and users can contact their representative to demand reformIn this two-part series, we'll explore the specific problems with federal sentencing under the CFAA. Part 1 explains why maximums matter.

Take action to fix computer crime law.

Much of the recent discussion about the problems with the CFAA's tough penalty scheme has revolved around its draconian maximum punishments. While maximums play an important role in criminal sentencing, the actual sentence a defendant will receive depends mostly on the sentencing range recommended in the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("USSG"). The Guidelines are written and updated by the United States Sentencing Commission ("USSC"), an independent agency of the judicial branch created by Congress in 1984, to help judges determine where in the spectrum from no jail time to the maximum a sentence should fall. Once binding on sentencing courts, in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that were only a recommendation the court was free to disregard. Nonetheless, the vast majority of federal ...

Apple Bans SAGA #12 Because of Gay Sexual Content

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Earlier today word spread that Apple is refusing to offer the most recent issue of SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples within iOS Apps.  Vaughan issued the following statement regarding the ban:

As has hopefully been clear from the first page of our first issue, SAGA is a series for the proverbial “mature reader.” Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps. This is a drag, especially because our book has featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past, but there you go. Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.

Apologies to everyone who reads our series on iPads or iPhones, but here are your alternatives for Wednesday:

1) Head over to you friendly neighborhood comics shop and pick up a physical copy of our issue that you can have and hold forever.

2) While you’re at it, don’t forget to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which helps protect retailers ...

Ethics Matters! Join OIF for a half-day preconference in Chicago

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The ALA Committee on Professional Ethics invites you to join a half-day preconference offered during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago this summer!

“Ethics Matters: Ethical Decision-Making for Librarians and Information Professionals” will provide attendees with practical tools for resolving the daily ethical issues librarians face. Dr. Nancy Zimmerman will lead this highly interactive event that will challenge librarians to develop ethical awareness, identify the global common ground of values underlying ethics, analyze ethical issues using real-life dilemmas and resolve dilemmas using practical resolution principles.

This preconference will take place from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 2013.  Continental breakfast, coffee and other refreshments will be served. Advance registration is required. Tickets cost $80 and are available via ALA’s Annual Conference registration system. Tickets may be purchased as part of Annual Conference registration or separately (note: you do not have to register for the entire Annual Conference to attend). The Event Code for “Ethics Matters” is OIF1.

“Ethics Matters” will introduce attendees to the Ethical Fitness® process, a conceptual framework for decision-making developed by the Institute for Global Ethics (IGE). Founded in 1990 by the late Dr. Rushworth Kidder, IGE is an independent, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, ...

Newark’s ‘The Star-Ledger’ Runs Two Op-Eds on Student Rights

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Newark's The Star-Ledger is really shining today by running two op-eds on student rights. The first piece, covered earlier today on The Torch by Will, was my op-ed explaining why Senator Frank Lautenberg's and Congressman Rush Holt's calls for federal higher-ed anti-bullying legislation in the wake of the Rutgers University basketball scandal were misplaced. 

The second piece, by the Student Press Law Center's Executive Director Frank LoMonte, is titled "Learning From Rutgers' Scandal and Protecting Student Whistleblowers," and also tackles the issue of legislative fixes in light of the controversy. LoMonte highlights two ways in which new laws could be adopted to help stop similar abuses much more quickly in the future (and neither of them are anti-bullying laws!).

First, LoMonte urges state legislatures to pass whistleblower protections for students, so they can shed light on issues of public concern (like student abuse) without fear of reprisal. He writes:   

California and Oregon have comprehensive anti-retaliation statutes that assure students they can speak out about the inadequacies of their schools and colleges without reprisal. Every state should enact similar common-sense safeguards, so that it doesn't take a fired employee's leaked video to fix the next Mike Rice ...

Calling All Engineers and Technologists: We Need Your Help to Reform the CFAA

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Calling Internet engineers and technologists!

We need you to help fix the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the law used to prosecute the late activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. Specifically, we need you to start a conversation within your company about supporting CFAA reform.

The CFAA broadly criminalizes accessing a computer without or in excess of "authorization"— a vague term that is followed up by extremely harsh penalties. The law threatens technologists, developers, researchers, and others who tinker with software, conduct security research, or engage in many other kinds of innovation. Companies have used the CFAA to seek criminal charges against employees for violating employee contracts. In fact, the Justice Department has argued that anyone who violates a term of service could be committing a crime that can potentially carry many years of prison time.

After the tragic death of Aaron, who was aggressively prosecuted under the law, EFF and a number of organizations put together some proposed fixes to the CFAA that would bring a measure of sanity to computer crime law. But meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee has floated a backwards proposal that would actually make the law worse.

We need your help. We need ...

Can Police Read Text Messages Without a Warrant?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
EFF Fights for Cell Phone Privacy in Washington State

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Washington State Supreme Court Monday to recognize that text messages are "the 21st Century phone call" and require that law enforcement officers obtain a warrant before reading texts on someone's phone.

"Text messages are a ubiquitous form of communication, and their context can be as private as any telephone conversation," said EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. "We use texts to talk to our wives and husbands, our kids, our co-workers, and more. Police should not be able to sift through these personal exchanges on a whim – they must show probable cause and get a warrant before accessing this information."

In this case, police seized a cell phone during a drug investigation and monitored incoming messages. Officers responded to several texts, setting up meetings that resulted in two arrests, without first getting a warrant. Prosecutors have argued that no warrant was required because there should be no expectation of privacy in text messages, as anyone can pick up someone else's phone and read what's stored there. But in two related amicus briefs filed Monday, EFF argues that searching the phone for ...

Marjane Satrapi to CPS: ‘Find your Brain Again. Stop Lying’

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

marjane-satrapiKhury Petersen-Smith of SocialistWorker.org caught up with Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi to talk about the shady restrictions being placed on the teaching of her book in Chicago. Again, Satrapi showed her insight and savvy and aptly expressed the utter confusion and dismay we are all feeling:

What is so horrible in my book that you need guidance? Am I inviting people to go find a shotgun and kill each other? Am I teaching the kids to hate the other ones? Am I teaching them to be violent?

No. What I’m telling them is that the world can be like that, but in the middle of this bad world, we can always choose another way. We can always not hate. I think this is good for kids to learn, and the earlier they learn these things, the better. So this is extremely shocking.

You imagine it must take a lot for Satrapi to be shocked by the forces of government, even its petty iterations like school boards and administrators, considering everything she has witnessed.

The interview’s final question asks what she would like to say to students, teachers and administrators. Her response is fantastic:

To the administrators I would say: Find ...

FIRE in New Jersey’s ‘Star-Ledger’: Federal Bullying Law Not the Answer to Rutgers Basketball Scandal

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
Joe Cohn

FIRE Legislative & Policy Director Joe Cohn takes to the pages of Newark's The Star-Ledger this morning to rebut calls from New Jersey elected officials to pass new federal anti-bullying legislation in the wake of the Rutgers basketball scandal. Pointing out that former basketball coach Mike Rice's behavior was already prohibited by Rutgers policy and existing laws, Joe argues that broad federal anti-bullying legislation would only serve to threaten protected speech on campus. 

Joe writes:  

People nationwide are understandably shocked by Rice's behavior, and criticism of Rutgers' handling of the situation rightfully continues. However, the controversy has also led to renewed calls from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-12th Dist.) for federal legislation addressing "bullying" — such as the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, recently reintroduced in Congress.

[...]

[T]his kind of misconduct is already prohibited by law. We don't need new legislation to prevent coaches from hitting players. Could anyone watching the video of Rice berating and shoving his players possibly have doubted that Rutgers had the authority to fire him? Rice's conduct violated both Rutgers' policy against workplace violence and clauses in his contract. 

Criminal statutes outlaw physical assault, and federal ...

Supporters Say All The Wrong Things to Try and Pass CISPA

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Ever since reintroducing CISPA, the so-called "cybersecurity bill," its supporters promote the bill with craftily worded or just plain misleading claims. Such claims have been lobbed over and over again in op-eds, at hearings, and in press materials.  One "fact sheet" by Rep. Rogers and Ruppersberger titled "Myth v. Fact" is so dubious that we felt we had to comment. To stop this type of misinformation—and to stop CISPA—we urge you to tell your members of Congress to stand up for privacy.

Here are some of the statements supporters of CISPA are pushing and why they're false:

Supporters of CISPA say, "There are no broad definitions"

Supporters are keen to note that the bill doesn't have broad definitions. In the "Myth v. Fact" sheet, the authors of CISPA specifically point to the definition of "cyber threat information." Cyber threat information is information about an online threat that companies can share with each other and with any government agency—including the NSA. In hearings, experts have said that they don't need to share personally identifiable information to combat threats. But the definition in the bill allows for any information related to a perceived threat ...

New FIRE Legal Scholarship from Former Jackson Fellow Andrew Kloster

Monday, April 8th, 2013

FIRE is pleased to announce the publication of legal scholarship authored by former Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow Andrew Kloster. Andrew's article, "Student and Professorial Causes of Action Against Non-University Actors" (PDF), was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal

In the article, Andrew argues that when student and faculty rights are endangered as a result of third-party action—for example, the mandates announced in the April 4, 2011, "Dear Colleague" letter issued by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights—new means of redress should be explored beyond traditional contract law. Andrew writes:

This Article makes three assertions. First, while courts have increasingly looked to contract law to vindicate the rights of students against universities and colleges, traditional contract law sometimes provides inadequate protections in situations where rights are adversely affected by third-party action. Second, the rise of administrative oversight by the Department of Education and by other third party governmental actors limits the universe of contracts that can be formed and is constantly changing the student-university relationship. This oversight is so pervasive that adverse administrative decisions of even private universities could possibly be characterized as "state action" ...

Why It’s Important to Call Your Representative About CFAA Reform and Aaron’s Law

Monday, April 8th, 2013

This week, EFF and a bipartisan coalition of organizations are calling for a Week of Action to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act—the law used in the aggressive prosecution of Aaron Swartz and that could potentially be used to turn every Internet user into a criminal.

Since Aaron's death, EFF has proposed changes that would reform the CFAA and bring it into the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the House Justiciary committee has proposed radical changes to the CFAA that would seek to increase penalties, expand the law, and criminalize new actions.

This week, we have a Twitter tool which you can use to express your support for reform and an action center which allows you to easily find your representative and email them. But if you live in one of the following districts, you can have even more impact by calling your representative on the phone.

We've heard from multiple sources in Congress that the most effective action taken during the SOPA protest in January 2012 was the massive numbers of people who called into Congress to express their concern. During that week of action, the phone lines in Congress were temporarily overwhelmed from call volume and had to ...

Help Remember Aaron Swartz By Participating in Our Week-of-Action, Demanding Congress Reform the CFAA

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Today, EFF and a host of organizations across the political spectrum are launching a week-of-action imploring Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the expansive law used to prosecute the late activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz.

Take action to fix computer crime law.

The CFAA has been expanded and morphed since it originally passed in 1984 so that it now threatens draconian and out-of-proportion punishments for acts that cause little or no economic harm. It has also been used to threaten innovators and security researchers. Worse, since the Justice Department's expansive interpretation would criminalize website terms of service violations, the CFAA threatens to turn virtually everyone online into a criminal.

We're asking Congress for three specific, common-sense fixes to the CFAA, which will bring the outdated law into the 21st Century:

  • No more criminal penalties for violating a website's fine print or an employee manual
  • No criminal penalties for circumvention techniques that protect privacy and promote security
  • Make penalties proportionate to offenses and stop punishing virtual crimes more harshly than physical world crimes

Unfortunately some members of the House Judiciary committee have floated a change to the CFAA that goes in the opposite direction, expanding penalties under the CFAA and largely codifying the ...

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff Speaking at Purdue University Tomorrow

Monday, April 8th, 2013

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be on the campus of Purdue University this Tuesday, April 9, to discuss free speech on campus and his book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Greg's speech will take place at 7 p.m. in Stewart Center, room 218 A-B, and is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Purdue chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Office of the President. Following his talk, Greg will be available to sign books, which will be available for purchase on-site. 

Greg Lukianoff 'Unlearning Liberty' Talk at Purdue University 

When: Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m.

Where: Purdue University, West Lafayette campus, Stewart Center, room 218 A-B

Who: Sponsored by the Purdue chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the Office of the President.

Twitter, Free Speech, and Taking Xanax for Your Syphilis

Sunday, April 7th, 2013
Twitter

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff is featured today on CNET commenting on a French lawsuit filed against the social media giant Twitter. Student groups in France upset over recent anti-Semitic tweets are seeking to punish Twitter under French hate speech laws. However, as Greg argues, this action is dangerous and ultimately counterproductive:

In order to be an effective mirror to global society, Twitter thinks of itself primarily as a platform and does its best to get out of the way. Therefore, we know things we simply would not know otherwise-from the trivial to the serious. The people who want to scour mass media and cleanse it of all hateful or hurtful opinions miss that their purge would deny us important knowledge. Simply put, it is far better to know that there are bigots amongst us than to pretend all is well.

Greg explains how First Amendment principles dismantle common arguments against free speech from academics who "paint themselves as a beleaguered, enlightened minority struggling against the unquestioned dogma of free speech." Greg demonstrates how allowing individuals to freely express their views-even when distasteful or offensive-is a far healthier way to address social division than suppressing people's speech. He concludes, "Forcing hate ...

Tatted: Art on the Body is Protected Expression

Friday, April 5th, 2013

tattooDid you know that in some states, localities have health and safety ordinances prohibiting tattoos and tattooing? You may be surprised to know that even New York City, birthplace of the modern tattoo — had a ban for 36 years.

Now that practically anyone–from our own mothers to elementary school teachers–is likely to have one, bans like these seem like remnants of a bygone era.

In some sense, they are. In the past decade, as tattoos became increasingly mainstream, the courts overturned a number of these ordinances, upholding First Amendment arguments that tattoos and their creation are expressions of “pure speech.” Today, one in five adults has a tattoo in the U.S.

In place of prohibitions, we now have health and safety regulations to ensure the clean and safe practice of tattooing and the prevention of the spread of diseases like hepatitis.

In Temple, Texas, however, the law against tattoo parlors remains alive and well, much to the dismay of tattoo artist Christopher Simmons. Simmons has been fighting to get the ordinance overturned. A Temple native, Simmons moved back recently and wants to be given the opportunity to support his family with his trade and express himself through his art.

...

Planning for Choose Privacy Week? Free April 9 Webinar Offers Ideas for Programming and Outreach

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

oblongimageAre you preparing for Choose Privacy Week? Join ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and librarians across the country next week for a free webinar to discuss how your library can observe Choose Privacy Week,   ALA’s annual education and awareness campaign that invites library users into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age.

The free, hour-long online webinar will take place on Tuesday, April 9 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Central Time and will feature four speakers discussing ideas and tools for privacy-related programming and outreach, with an emphasis on sample programs and resources that have proved successful in school, academic, and public library environments:

Michael Zimmer, PhD, will discuss how to use short documentaries on privacy and surveillance to increase awareness among patrons and spark conversations on controversial technologies and practices.

Michael is an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies and director of the Center for Information Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Carolyn Caywood will discuss how librarians can raise awareness of developments that impact privacy in their community by offering civic engagement programs about privacy.

Carolyn worked as a Youth Services librarian and branch manager for Virginia Beach, ...

Too Soon or Censorship? “The Librarian of Basra” & Third Graders

Monday, April 1st, 2013

This morning’s news feeds boasted two stories that grabbed our attention, in particular because they dovetail so perfectly with the recent controversy in Chicago Public Schools surrounding Persepolis. 

One is about drama that has ensued after the California DOE decided to include more gay-themed books in its school curricula. This brings up vital curricular and cultural issues, but for the purposes of this post we’re going to stick with the story closer to home.

librarian of basra

From the ‘Librarian of Basra’

In New York City, the New York Post took an oblique angle in reporting the latest developments in the battles over Common Core Curriculum and school Board Control. Instead, CBS created a non-story about a single book: The Librarian of Basra by Jeannette Winter. The book is recommended reading on one of the modules created by Expeditionary Learning for the NYS Common Core ELA — modules that have been endorsed for voluntary use by New York Schools.

Librarian of Basra is the true story of a librarian who fought to save 30,000 volumes from being destroyed when American and British forces bombed Basra. It describes in a simple, tame way, the confusion and alarm of residents in the face of the ...

“Persepolis” Banned in Chicago Public Schools

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Last week, the best-selling graphic novel “Persepolis” was removed from Chicago’s middle and high school reading lists.

This week, a spokeswoman for the school system has claimed that the word “censorship” was inappropriate, as teachers could still assign the book so long as they were willing to sit through a class on how to teach such “sensitive material”. These extra classes appear designed to create an incentive against assigning “Persepolis”.

The graphic novel, written by Marjane Satrapi, is an autobiographical account of growing up in Iran during the fall of the Shah and the ensuing revolution. Unknown Chicago officials declared the book’s scenes of torture were inappropriate for students, despite an overwhelming student approval of the book. 

Chicago students were outspoken in their disapproval of knocking “Persepolis” from their schools. “The book actually tells us what happened during the Iranian Revolution,” said one. Another noted that, “the truth of the book is not much different than what kids see in their neighborhoods every day.”

“They think kids are stupid,” Satrapi noted in an interview on the ban. “They are not babies. Children are not dumb.” Satrapi herself witnessed the depicted episodes of torture and violence as a young girl, the same age as the students ...

Krug Fund Banned Books Week grant applications now open

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Cross-posted from the FTRF Blog

Applications are now open for FTRF’s 2013 Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund Banned Books Week event grants. Grants in the amounts of $2,500 and $1,000 will be given to organizations in support of “Read-Outs” or other activities that celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept. 22 – 30, 2013).

Applications will be accepted through April 30, 2013, and the announcements will be made in June.

Organizations are required to submit an event description, timeline and budget with their application; they also will agree to provide a written report, photos and video from their event(s) to FTRF following Banned Books Week.  Only not-for-profit organizations may apply. They need not have official 501(c) 3 status. Krug Fund grants cannot be used to buy computer hardware.

Going forward beginning in 2013, organizations may only be awarded grants twice within a six-year period.

Contact Jonathan Kelley at jokelley@ala.org with questions, or call (800) 545-2433, ext.4226.

IFAction Round-Up, March 11-17, 2013

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

IFAction Round-Up logo

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from March 18–24, 2013.

 

Privacy, Surveillance, and Cybersecurity

Bruce Schneier: The Internet is a surveillance state

Florida Appeals Court: Threats posted on Facebook are crimes

What Would We Do If The Internet Crashed?

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Warrantless Searches of Cell Phones

Twitter sued for $50 million for refusing to reveal anti-semites

Tone Down the Cyberwarfare Rhetoric, Expert Urges Congress

 

Censorship and Free Speech

Barbara Jones discusses Persepolis controversy on Chicago Tonight

“Gamers” are not the enemy

Oxford’s University’s Harlem shake librarian must be reinstated

Canadian Librarians ‘Owe Duty Of Loyalty To The Government,’ Must Self-Censor Opinions Even In Private

 

Access and Intellectual Property Protection 

Could the Supreme Court outlaw your library’s right to lend?
Update: Supreme Court rules in favor of libraries, consumer rights

New research: music piracy should not be a “concern for copyright holders”

Library Of Congress Hoping To ...

Nazi Jokes Nixed North of the Border

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

A St. Mary’s High School student in Kitchener, Ontario was suspended on Tuesday after making controversial cracks about his school’s uniform policy.

The student created his own version of the popular Hitler “Downfall” video meme on Youtube. In it Hitler proclaims he’ll “Whip those teens back into their proper place”. When an officer asks why they shouldn’t wear jackets in the winter— referring to the school’s ban on colored jackets and hoodies— Hitler responds “Let those brats freeze!”

While the video quickly gained thousands of Youtube views, school officials asked that it be taken down. A school administrator commented that the video “hurts on a personal level”. At St. Mary’s, it seems, hurt feelings trump free expression. Especially when they are the feelings of school administrators.


No Rebel Rags in South Carolina Schools

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

The decision to suspend a South Carolina high school sophomore because of her wearing a Confederate Rebel Flag shirt has been held up by a federal appellate court.

The student was initially suspended twice in 2006 for the questionable clothing. Both times she was forced to turn her shirt inside-out or change into school-approved threads. Although her case has received several appeals, ultimately on Monday the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that her First Amendment rights came second to “promoting” her school’s “educational mission”. 


No Sex in ‘The CNM Chronicle’

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Yesterday, Central New Mexico Community College’s student newspaper—”The CNM Chronicle”— was recently shut down by college administrators after publishing an issue focusing on sex and sex education.

While elements of the issue proclaimed themselves as “raunchy”, including a poll on favorite sexual positions and how-to guides for exploring kinks, much of the newspaper was dedicated to sexual education. Articles included information on the importance of consent, explored LGBQT rights as well as an editorial on the benefits of abstinence.

Clearly the “Chronicle” issue was meant to both titillate and educate college-age readers. This unfortunate act of censorship has elicited protests from the neighboring University of New Mexico. Because all “CNM Chronicle” staffers were students on work-study, all students have lost their jobs and have been reassigned to new positions within the college.


Intellectual Freedom Round Table to hold 40th anniversary celebration at Chicago Cultural Center

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Cross-posted at the IFRT Blog.

We’re 40 this year! Come help us celebrate, at the Chicago Cultural Center, during the Annual ALA conference this summer!

Tickets available now!  Visit http://www.ala.org/ifrt/ifrt-40th-anniversary-celebration for more information

CHICAGO – After 40 years of defending and upholding First Amendment rights, it is time for a party. Come join the Intellectual Freedom Round Table

IFRT logo

IFRT logo

(IFRT) from 7:30 – 10 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 2013 at the magnificent Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St. at Michigan Ave.) for our 40th Anniversary Celebration. This event is held in conjunction with the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

Tickets for this worthy event are $30 for IFRT members and $40 for non-members.  If you are not a member, consider joining IFRT for only $15 and become involved in some of the most important issues in the library community.  Tickets for students are $20.  All tickets are available via ALA’s Annual Conference registration system (note: you do not have to register for the Annual Conference to attend). Refreshments, including signature cocktails, will be served.

Proceeds from this event will benefit IFRT’s prestigious John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, honoring the courage, dedication and contribution of an individual or group setting the finest example for the defense and furtherance of the principles ...

Free speech defender Anthony Lewis dies at 85

Monday, March 25th, 2013

anthony lewisNew York Times columnist and Pulitzer-prize winning writer Anthony Lewis passed away this weekend. Lewis was a leading expert on constitutional law whose work in defense of free speech earned him the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001.

We honored Lewis’ lifetime commitment to freedom of expression in 2008 at our annual benefit.

In his 2007 book Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, Lewis wrote:

Citizens in a free society must have courage — the courage to hear not only unwelcome political speech but novel and shocking ideas in science and the arts.

Words worth remembering every day. Thank you, Anthony Lewis — you will be missed.


IFAction Round-Up, March 11-17, 2013

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

IFAction Round-Up logo

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from March 11 –March 17, 2013.

 

Privacy, Surveillance, and Cybersecurity

Harvard Search of E-Mail Stuns Its Faculty Members

Rolling StonePolice Spying on American Muslims Is a Pointless National Shame 

U.S. plans to let spy agencies scour Americans’ finances

Reuters Employee Charged With Helping Anonymous Hack News Site

Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them

 

Censorship and Free Speech

Rhode Island ACLU Report Finds Prevalent Internet Censorship in Public Schools

Illinois county to pay ACLU $600K after high court voids eavesdropping law

Chicago School District Under Fire for Restricting Access to ‘Persepolis’

 

Access and Intellectual Property Protection 

Bradley Manning Speaks: In Leaked Court Recording, Army Whistleblower Tells His Story for First Time

RIP: Google Reader Meets Its Inevitable End

Gov’t won’t even give page counts of secret PATRIOT Act documents

What Librarians Need to Know about the New Copyright Alert System

Aaron Swartz to Be Honored by [American] Library Association

Wisconsin man banned from all libraries on earth [Racine]

 

Other

Steubenville Rape Guilty Verdict: The Case that Social Media Won

On Persepolis: Chicago Students “Exposed to Real Violence on a Daily Basis”

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

In an interview with PBS station WTTW Chicago last night, Barbara Jones, Executive Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, of the Chicago Teachers Union and two Lane Tech Seniors spoke about the removal of Persepolis from classrooms in Chicago Public Schools. You can watch the interview here, but this particular moment stood out as a perfect response to anyone who might hem and haw about the inappropriateness of this text:

Carol Marin: “But at the same time, if we’re talking the difference between a senior and a 7th grader, there are discriminations to be made, and books are vetted based on age-appropriateness, correct?”

Khristine Mail: “Sure, but take a look at this city. We had over 500 murders last year. Our students are exposed to real violence on a daily basis. This is a cartoon picture from a historical event from 40 years ago. Our kids can handle it.”

We shared a similar sentiment in our letter, sent from our Kids’ Right to Read Project on Friday afternoon.


Persepolis removed from Chicago Public Schools for “graphic illustrations and language”; OIF & FTRF respond

Friday, March 15th, 2013

As documented by DNAinfo.com and numerous other blogs, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) yesterday ordered that all copies of the award-winning graphic novel Persepolis be removed from schools district-wide. Initially the order explicitly included libraries, but the head of school libraries has since issued a directive that, pursuant to its collection development policy, the book is to remain on library shelves.

OIF staff spoke with a CPS official this afternoon, who confirmed that the books were removed due to what she termed “graphic illustrations and language” and concerns about “developmental preparedness” and “student readiness.” While still in school libraries, they have been “temporarily recalled” from classroom libraries and teaching curriculum until CPS can “control” how the book is being presented. She said there was no timeline for CPS’s evaluation. CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett also has issued a memo to CPS principals regarding the removal.

The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) has filed a FOIA request for all documents related to this action and, jointly with OIF, has sent a letter urging reconsideration of the action (see the text of the letter below).

Follow @OIF and @FTRF on Twitter for the latest on this developing situation.

 

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chief Executive Officer for Chicago ...

IFAction Round-Up, February 25-March 10, 2013

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from February 25-March 10, 2013.

 

Privacy and Cybersecurity

Darpa Wants You to Transcribe, and Instantly Recall, All of Your Conversations

Google reveals data on secretive FBI subpoenas
Related:

Good cybersecurity means better privacy

Bill would force cops to get a warrant before reading your e-mail

Supreme Court Dismisses ACLU’s Challenge to NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Law
Related:

…more after the break!

Censorship and Free Speech

‘Harlem Shake’ videos lead to school suspensions

At principal’s request, Buffalo middle school to consider banning novel
Follow-up: No book ban: Committee votes not to remove coming-of-age ...

IFAction Round-Up, February 18-24, 2013

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archiveBelow is a sample of articles from February 18-24, 2013.

 

Privacy and Cybersecurity

White House warns of dangers posed by WikiLeaks, LulzSec, other ‘hacktivists’

 

Censorship and Free Speech

Zero tolerance or zero sense? Kids’ suspensions over imaginary weapons renew debate

Kansas Senate advances bill to require public schools, libraries to filter Internet content

Illinois Politician Seeks To Outlaw Anonymous Comments (But Allow Anonymous Gun Ownership)

5 Books They Dont Want You Reading: Black History Month Edition

‘Boobies’ Wristbands in Schools Weighed by Full Appeals Court

Connecticut State Senator Seeks To Ban Minors From Playing Arcade Games Utilizing Fake Guns

Joan Rivers Lesbian Kiss, Costco Book Ban Heats Up Joan Knows Best

 

Access and Intellectual Property Protection

Bestselling Author Of Children’s Books Accuses Public Libraries Of Stealing His Paychecks

How Republicans Are Looking to Close the Digital Divide Against Democrats

Independent Booksellers Sue Amazon and ...

Free webinar on self-service holds March 19!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Is your library considering a move to self-service holds (also known as open-shelf holds)? Such systems have enabled many libraries to successfully continue user hold services despite staff cuts and budget reductions. But some of these systems may compromise privacy and confidentiality by linking personally identifiable information with the specific materials on hold. Such practices may violate the ALA Code of Ethics and may, in some states, violate library confidentiality statutes.

Join ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom for a free, live webinar on the legal and ethical standards that support the move to privacy-protective hold systems. OIF Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone will discuss the issues and consider various self-service hold systems that both protect user privacy and save the library money. Bring your questions and discuss your own experiences in an interactive session with colleagues across the country!

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Central time; will be recorded and available in archive

Cost: Free. To register, visit http://ala.adobeconnect.com/e4bngl6pl35/event/event_info.html.

Other upcoming OIF webinars include “Choose Privacy Week Programming @ Your Library” (April 9) and “Defend the Freedom to Read: Reporting Challenges” (April 23).  For more information on these and other OIF online ...

Danny O’Brien Returns to Head EFF’s International Team

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Longtime Internet Activist to Focus on Global Issues

San Francisco - Digital-rights activist Danny O'Brien is back at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), rejoining the organization as its new International Director.

O'Brien will head up global strategy at EFF at a time when digital rights and freedoms are under attack across the globe. O'Brien said he's seen the effects of many of EFF's traditional concerns in privacy, free speech, and innovation play out around the world – from Internet kill switches and targeted malware aimed at vulnerable users, to privacy-invasive biometric tracking, to damaging international treaties that quash free expression.

"The last few years have been incredibly transformative for international digital rights. They've gone from theoretical threats to practical realities," O'Brien said. "The policy issues EFF works on are becoming day-to-day issues for everyone around the world."

O'Brien has a particular interest in the rights of Internet users in repressive regimes, where governments are using the rise of trackable mobile devices and a filtered Internet to control their citizens, not empower them.

"What I really don't want to happen is for people to look back at this time as the 'Golden Age' of Internet freedom because in the future we ...

U. of Alabama Paper: ‘Harlem Shake’ Incident Demonstrates Need to Review Restrictive Speech Policy

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Photo by Austin Bigoney, The Crimson White. Used with permission.

We reported yesterday on the University of Alabama's (UA's) decision to crack down on a student-led attempt to organize a "Harlem Shake" video on UA's campus quad. The attempted dance video was shut down by campus police because the students organizing the event had not obtained a permit before assembling their crowd—a requirement at UA that includes a 10-day waiting period. 

In a well-considered editorial running today, the Editorial Board of the UA student newspaper The Crimson White writes that the whole episode is not just a silly exercise of the university police's power. Rather, it demonstrates much more: 

The dispersal by police of an assembly of students such as the one Monday reveals serious flaws in how the student body's right to free speech is handled by the University.

[...]

A second flaw is the "chilling effect" ensured by the University's requirement for a Grounds Use Permit, which can take up to 10 days to acquire. Again, in the Internet age, 10 days is an eternity. At least nine news cycles will inevitably come and go before a student can organize an assembly and hold it without fear of reprise from University authorities. That's plenty of time for the ...

5 Books They Dont Want You Reading: Black History Month Edition

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Despite receiving accolades ranging from the National Book Award to the Pulitzer, these five notorious novels have been banned by schools across the United States. 

 Their Eyes Were Watching God —Zora Neal Hurston, 1937

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a bildungsroman about a young Black woman growing up in the Deep South. In 1997 parents in Brentsville, Virgina attempted to ban the novel from their Advanced English curriculum for “sexual content”. Fortunately, the ban was overturned.

 Native Son — Richard Wright, 1940

Bigger Thomas is a Black man hired to chauffer a rich White family in 20th century Chicago. His awkward run-ins with his employers turn from comic to gravely serious when he accidently murders a member of the family. “Native Son” has been banned from schools and libraries in eight states for “violent and sexual content.” When will these censors learn that violence and sex make for the best books?

 Invisible Man — Ralph Ellison, 1952

This cerebral novel riffs on everything from Dostoyevsky to the Odyssey in telling the tale of its nameless Black narrator. Despite winning the National Book Award a year after its publication, “Invisible Man” has been banned by schools ...

FIRE President Headed to San Francisco Next Week for Three Public Events

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Join FIRE President Greg Lukianoff next week as he travels to the San Francisco Bay Area for three FIRE-related public events! 

The first will be a talk at Stanford Law School on Wednesday, February 27, at 12:45 p.m. Greg will speak about his book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Following Greg's talk, Burt Neuborne—civil liberties attorney, New York University School of Law Professor, and Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice—will offer comments. The event is sponsored by the Stanford Law School chapter of The Federalist Society.

Stanford Law School logo

STANFORD LAW SCHOOL
UNLEARNING LIBERTY TALK

Wednesday, February 27
12:45 p.m.
Stanford Law School
559 Nathan Abbott Way, Room 280A
Stanford, CA 

Sponsored by the Stanford Federalist Society
Comments provided by Professor Burt Neuborne

The following day, on Thursday, February 28, Greg will be at the University of California Hastings College of the Law to give another Unlearning Liberty talk, sponsored by the Hastings chapter of The Federalist Society. The event will begin at 12 p.m. 

University of California Hastings

HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW UNLEARNING LIBERTY TALK

Thursday, February 28
12 p.m.
UC-Hastings Law School
198 McAllister Street, Classroom G
San Francisco, CA 

Sponsored by the Hastings Federalist ...

Join Namecheap and EFF in Stopping CISPA

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The domain name registrar Namecheap is running an awareness campaign against CISPA, the dangerous cybersecurity bill—and they're donating $1 to EFF for each tweet (#CISPAalert), Facebook share, and domain name bought using the code CISPAalert. Namecheap, a staunch opponent of SOPA last year, is now taking charge of spreading the word about CISPA's threats to your privacy.

To join in the campaign, you can use Namecheap's suggested shares on Facebook or on Twitter, or you can use our own tweet:

Join @EFF & @Namecheap in opposing CISPA, the dangerous surveillance bill. Contact Congress: https://eff.org/r.2bJf #CISPAalert

You can also register or transfer a domain name, and if you use the coupon code CISPAalert, you save a dollar. Each one of these actions—and further shares from your friends and followers—helps spread awareness about CISPA and supports EFF.

We need more companies to join Namecheap in opposing harmful cybersecurity legislation. CISPA bypasses existing privacy laws to allow companies to monitor their users and share potentially sensitive data with the government without a warrant, all in the name of "cybersecurity." The bill's language has disturbingly vague language and provides little oversight.

To truly stop CISPA, we need to ...

‘Heroic Censor’ Epidemic Reaches Arizona State University

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

A recent article in The State Press, the student newspaper at Arizona State University, carries the dispiriting news of another sighting of the "heroic censor"—a term we use to refer to students who suppress the free speech of their fellow students not only because they think it is their right, but because they see it as their moral obligation. (We don't actually think they are heroic.) 

In this case at ASU, the censors have aimed their sights at flyers around the ASU campus pointing students to a men's rights advocacy website. The State Press reports:

Graphic design freshman Abby Daniels stood by one of the Tempe campus's kiosks Tuesday night putting up fliers that read "We will not obey" in an attempt to cover every flier that has what she believes is a sexist message.

Earlier that day, she noticed the signs for the first time. When she stopped to take a picture of them, a student approached her and told her someone had been systematically tearing them down and that he was hoping to catch whoever was doing it.

[...]

She posted the photo in her blog and, so far, it has had almost 100 responses.

[...]

One ...

Sherman Alexie Talks to NCAC’s the Write Stuff About Being Banned

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Image

Photo: Rob Casey

Sherman Alexie tells the Write Stuff about how it feels to be challenged, why he’s determined to keep writing controversial books for teens, and the upcoming sequel to his oft-banned, award-winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown).

I’m sure you hear about the impact True Diary has on kids all the time. What story has left the most lasting impression on you?
The big moment for me was when I gave a reading in Spokane in 2009, and eight or nine Chicano boys drove up with their teacher from Ephrata, WA, which has a heavily migrant worker population.

These Chicano boys were so into the book—and they were all wearing ties—and they told me that they had decided to put on ties to show respect to me and the book. Their excitement was amazing, and all of them said it was the first book they’d ever finished.

What made the book so special?
It was the first book they ever read that felt real.

So many kids say it really resonates with them.
That’s probably one of the most common things I hear, “It’s the only book I’ve read.” Which, on ...

U. of Alabama Shakes Up Harlem Shake Attempt

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The wildly popular "Harlem Shake" dance videos can range from the small and minimal to the extensive and elaborate. No matter what the flavor, though, this latest Internet craze is something everyone seems to be jumping into. Yesterday, however, the University of Alabama (UA) took issue with some students attempting to make a Harlem Shake video on the UA quad.

For those of you who don't spend nearly as much time on the Internet as I do, the Harlem Shake is a "meme" in which people make a 30-second dance video to music producer Baauer's "Harlem Shake." The first 15 seconds of the videos show a single person in costume dancing in front of a group of disinterested people. Then, the video quickly cuts to 15 seconds of those same people or an entire crowd dancing wildly to the same song.

It might be something you have to see to understand:

Unfortunately, an attempt by UA students to make a Harlem Shake video has been thwarted by campus police. You see, UA requires students to obtain a permit before assembling on the quad—a permit with a 10-day waiting period and one that organizer Nojan Radfar reportedly didn't know ...