Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

View EFF's new Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations in a larger window.

Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.

These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Military Drone Flights in the United States

A160 Hummingbird DroneWhile the U.S. military doesn’t need an FAA license to fly drones over its own military bases (these are considered “restricted airspace”), it does need a license to fly in the national airspace (which is almost everywhere else in the US). And, as we’ve learned from these records, the Air Force and Marine Corps regularly fly both large and small drones in the national airspace all around the country. This is problematic, given a recent New York Times report that the Air Force’s drone operators sometimes practice surveillance missions by tracking civilian cars along the highway adjacent to the base.

The records show that the ...

On the Third Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

…Catholic French outrage
a Clear Channel Dove,
and  no art in Newark library.

An ad for Girbaud jeans in France sparked controversy in 2005 among French and Italian Catholics for being disrespectful to the Catholic faith.

The ad is a photo shoot modeled after Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper.”  Critics claimed the ad trivialized religion and sexualized the sacred by depicting the central male figure shirtless, being embraced by a woman.

Marithe and Francois Girbaud asserted that the advertisement was inspired by the painting, not the Bible. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church succeeded in getting a court injunction to ban the ad.

See this entry and thousands more at NCAC’s Censorpedia! 


Spirit of Giving Personalized Graphic Novel Offer Ends Today!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Today is your last opportunity to get graphic novels SIGNED and PERSONALIZED by more than 20 comics masters including Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Jeff Smith, Brian K. Vaughan, Raina Telgemeier, Jason Aaron, Mike Allred, Sergio Aragones, and more as part of the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving holiday gift drive!  To receive your signed and personalized book, you must order by 12 Midnight, Pacific time tonight!

This week proves that the CBLDF’s work is as vital as ever.  On Monday, Alan Moore’s award winning graphic novel Neonomicon was banned by a library director in South Carolina against the advice of the library’s review board, and despite CBLDF’s efforts in support of the book.  Threats to the freedom to read comics occur with alarming regularity, and CBLDF is on the front line addressing them.  We can only do this work with your support. That’s why these creators are taking time out of their busy holiday season, to thank you for supporting our critically important work.

When you support the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving drive, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation will make a contribution of $2 for every donation and gift order placed on the CBLDF’s website. ...

South Carolina CBS Affiliate Covers NEONOMICON Ban

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

WSPA, a Greenville, South Carolina, CBS affiliate, covered the ban of Neonomicon in last night’s newscast, interviewing Pat Scales, retired librarian and member of the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Council of Advisors. Scales adamantly stated that the removal of the book is censorship, telling WSPA that, “Even if  [library executive director Beverly James] is personally offended by it, there are a lot of things we’re offended by — you just don’t read it, you just don’t choose it,” reiterating the stance that CBLDF, NCAC, and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression took in defending the book and the rights of readers in the community to have access to it.

The library director of the Greenville, South Carolina, public library system made the decision to remove Alan Moore’s award-winning graphic novel Neonomicon from shelves throughout the system despite a letter of support from CBLDF, the NCAC, and ABFFE. Further, the removal is against the recommendation of the library’s content review committee.

CBLDF joined forces with the NCAC and the ABFFE to write a letter in defense of Neonomicon, which contains adult themes and imagery, when it was challenged last June in the Greenville public library system. Objections to ...

‘Brown Daily Herald’: Promote the Marketplace of Ideas

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

In a thoughtful, well-written editorial published yesterday, the Brown Daily Herald at Brown University calls on students to protect the marketplace of ideas on campus and to engage with each other in a real and meaningful exchange of viewpoints. 

Echoing points we make all the time at FIRE, the editorial discusses the benefits of seeking views different from one's own in order to challenge and sharpen those beliefs, rather than staying within the relative comfort of those who hold the same views. In relevant part, the editorial states:

A varied discourse is crucial to our learning. How can we form convincing, rational and justified arguments for our beliefs if there is no forum in which to debate? How will we be challenged to broaden our intellectual horizons if we marginalize opportunities to address contrasting opinions? We are often harshly critical of political discourse on a national level, where it seems politicians, pundits and other prominent figures barely stop to acknowledge an opponent's point before either taking it out of context or delegitimizing it by attempting to paint the other person as anti-American or idiotic. Yet we often engage in the same kind of ad hominem attacks, bypassing any productive or ...

On the Second Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

…A Clear Channel dove
and no art in Newark library

In 2004 a billboard rented by Project Billboard was slated to be posted in Times Square during the Republican National Convention. The billboard read “Democracy is best taught by example, not by war” and had an image of a bomb with a stars and stripes pattern.

Clear Channel, owner of this and half the billboards in Times Square, reserved their contractual ability “to reject ad copy that is deemed “obscene” or “false” or that “violates laws” or is “offensive to the moral standards of the community.”" A company representative said the message was fine, but the bomb imagery was “inappropriate” in New York City.

Ultimately a compromise was reached: the bomb became a dove and the billboard went up.

See this entry and thousands more at NCAC’s Censorpedia! 

 


UPDATE: After Being Removed from Office for Speech, Fresno City College Student Senator Reinstated

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Remember in October when I told you about James Demaree, the Fresno City College (FCC) student senator who was removed from his elected position because he had the audacity to criticize his student senate colleagues on YouTube? Well, I'm happy to report that according to FCC student newspaper The Rampage, the publicity we generated paid off, and the Constitutional Appeals Committee unanimously voted to reinstate Mr. Demaree—I mean Senator Demaree—to his position last week. Hopefully the happy conclusion of this unfortunate episode has taught students at FCC about the importance of free speech.

NEONOMICON Banned in South Carolina

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The library director of the Greenville, South Carolina, public library system has made the decision to remove Alan Moore’s award-winning graphic novel Neonomicon from shelves throughout the system despite a letter of support from CBLDF, the National Colation Against Censorship, and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Further, the removal is against the recommendation of the library’s content review committee.

CBLDF joined forces with the NCAC and the ABFFE to write a letter in defense of Neonomicon, which contains adult themes and imagery, when it was challenged last June in the Greenville public library system. Objections to the book were raised by a patron after her teenage daughter checked it out. The book was correctly shelved in the adult section of the library, and the teenager possessed a library card that allowed access to the adult section. The parent who filed the complaint conveyed the common misconception that comics are for younger readers in expressing her concerns to local press. (You can read the entirety of the letter below.)

Despite the fact that there is an audience in the community that would like to read the book, that the book was properly shelved, that it’s by a highly-respected ...

On the First Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

12days of censorship

This post is part of our Twelve Days of Censorship series, reporting the gifts of the Ghosts of Censors Past and Present in honor of the holiday season. 

 

On the First Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me… no art in Newark Public Library.

The Newark Public Library is doing their wrapping a little early this holiday season. This past week, the library wrapped a drawing by renowned, provocative artist and Columbia University Professor Kara Walker in zebra paper because it offended library staff.

The work–like much of Walker’s ouvre– is a commentary on some tough subjects: racial tensions in America, Jim Crow, the reconstruction in the south after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan. It’s a melee of images that appear to be drawn in charcoal, giving a windswept, dusty, chaotic effect. What offended most of all, however, was the part of the drawing which depicts a white man (forcibly?) getting a blow job from a black figure. kara walker censored

The piece is certainly not the first provocative work to stoke controversy in libraries, begging questions of context and censorship (see here and here and here and here and oh yeah, here). Walker’s work can be divisive, ...

Last Day For Personalized Alan Moore Books!

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Today is the last day to reserve your personalized Alan Moore books from Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!  To ensure these books arrive in time for Christmas delivery, we must have all personalization requests in by 12 AM Pacific time to allow for the extra time needed for trans-Atlantic  delivery.  All other Spirit of Giving items are available until Wednesday.

Alan Moore leads a list that includes Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Jason Aaron, Mike Allred, Sergio Aragones, David Petersen, Greg Rucka, Brian K. Vaughan, Matt Wagner and more than 20 other comics masters in supporting the CBLDF this holiday season by signing and personalizing graphic novels to the comics fan in your life as part of the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving holiday gift drive!

When you support the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving drive between now and December 12, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation will make a contribution of $2 for every donation and gift order placed on the CBLDF’s website. In addition, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31! With every gift you order from CBLDF, you’ll get an exclusive card featuring ...

Speech Code of the Month: University of North Dakota

Monday, December 3rd, 2012
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for December 2012: the University of North Dakota (UND).

UND defines "harassment" (PDF) as:

[U]nacceptable behavior, which can range from violence and bullying to more subtle behavior such as ignoring an individual at work or study. It subjects an individual or a group to unwelcome attention, intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, offense or loss of privacy. It is unwanted by the recipient and continues after an objection is made.

The policy further provides that:

This definition includes sexual and racial harassment, and bullying as well as any other form of personal harassment arising from disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, age, religion etc. It can be a single explicit incident causing distress or repeated unacceptable behavior affecting the dignity of an individual that appears or feels offensive, demeaning, intimidating or hostile....

This policy goes far beyond prohibiting actual harassment and prohibits a great deal of speech that UND, a public university, is both legally and morally bound to protect. Moreover, it is so vague that students have no way of knowing whether their speech or expression might inadvertently run afoul of the policy. 

The easiest way to see how this policy violates the ...

‘Daily Tar Heel’ on Jammie Price Case at Appalachian State

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Last week, The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill covered a case of interest both locally to North Carolina residents and to those around the country who care about academic freedom: that of tenured professor Jammie Price at Appalachian State University (ASU). 

Price was placed on administrative leave last spring after students alleged that she created a hostile environment and strayed from the syllabus while teaching her introductory sociology class. Despite the fact that her pedagogy seems to be protected under the canons of academic freedom and does not appear to constitute actionable harassment, ASU has sentenced Price to a development plan including "corrective actions" that encroach on her rights as a professor. FIRE wrote ASU this past May to express our concerns about Price's treatment. 

On the significant academic freedom and due process concerns presented by this case, The Daily Tar Heel quotes FIRE's Robert Shibley:

Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said he believes that Price's treatment by ASU administrators is a concern for all students and faculty.

"A quality liberal arts education is contingent upon academic freedom and fundamental fairness," he said in an ...

Swedish Artist Talks About Life in Wake of Mohammed Cartoon

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Swedish artist Lars Vilks found himself at the center of controversy in 2007 when his cartoon featuring the Prophet Mohammed’s head on a dog’s body was published. Today, he remains a controversial figure, a fact that influences the way he lives and works. In spite of the protests and threats to his life, Vilks is unwavering in his belief that free speech is essential to an artist’s role in challenging audiences.

Vilks is no stranger to controversy in his works: He also portrayed Jesus with an animal body and a Jewish person as a pig. None of his previous works, however, drew the response of the Mohammed cartoon. After its publication, Vilks and his publisher received multiple death threats. Al Qaeda offered $100,000 to anyone who killed Vilks, with an extra $50,000 bonus if he died from a slit throat. In 2010, seven individuals originally from Morocco and Yemen were arrested in Ireland for “conspiracy to murder an individual in another jurisdiction,” and sources revealed that Vilks was their target. Around the same time Colleen LaRose from Pennsylvania, also known as “JihadJane,” was charged with conspiracy to commit murder overseas, among other charges. The indictment alleged that LaRose agreed to ...

George Will on FIRE and ‘Unlearning Liberty’ in ‘The Washington Post’

Saturday, December 1st, 2012
Columnist George Will's most recent column in The Washington Post covers the continuing and critical problem of censorship on America's college campuses. Will discusses some of FIRE's most notorious and disturbing cases in the course of recommending FIRE President Greg Lukianoff's Unlearning Liberty to his readers. Today it's the fifth most popular story on the Post website. Check it out!

Syrians Use Old and New Tools to Stay Online During Internet Shutdown

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

UPDATE 12-1-12: As of 14:32:10 UTC, Renesys reports that Syria is back online

Information coming out of Syria has slowed to a trickle in the wake of Thursday’s country-wide communications shutdown, which included nearly all Internet traffic and intermittent cellular network and landline outages. Earlier today, Renesys reported that the last five networks that had survived the initial outage were off the air. In the meantime, experts have cast a skeptical eye on the Syrian Ministry of Information’s claims that the outage is the result of sabotage by “terrorists,” a term that the Assad regime has frequently used to describe the opposition. Matthew Prince speculates on the Cloudflare blog:

While we cannot know for sure, our network team estimates that Syria likely has a small number of edge routers. All the edge routers are controlled by Syrian Telecommunications. The systematic way in which routes were withdrawn suggests that this was done through updates in router configurations, not through a physical failure or cable cut.

Even under these adverse conditions, some Syrians have found ways to get online, stay in touch with family and loved ones abroad, and keep the world appraised of events on the ground at a time ...

UPDATE: College Censoring "Christmas" Admits Mistake, Reverses Decision

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Earlier this week, FIRE covered Western Piedmont Community College's (WPCC's) censorship of the use of the word "Christmas" on the flyers of a student group that was attempting to sell Christmas trees for charity.

Today, we are happy to inform you that WPCC has admitted that it made a mistake and fixed its error. 

As Atticus Simpson, vice president of student development at WPCC explained to Fox News

"We thought we were violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by promoting the sale of Christmas trees - which we thought would be promoting one religion over another." 

Allowing students to promote their religion (or lack thereof) without the college's imprimatur does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause. In fact, prohibiting students from doing so violates their First Amendment rights.  

We don't see colleges openly admitting mistakes very much here at FIRE, but we're happy when it happens. So thank you, WPCC, for admitting the mistake and reversing course to respect your students' expressive rights.

CBLDF Joins Coalition Defending Books in North Carolina School District

Friday, November 30th, 2012

This week, CBLDF joined the Kids Right to Read Project and a coalition of free expression advocacy organizations to write a letter to the Guilford School District in Greensboro, North Carolina, in defense of several books taught in the district’s college-level English courses.

A group of parents in the community are trying to remove several titles from classrooms, claiming that the books “denigrate Christianity.” The titles in this vocal minority’s cross hairs include The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian tale about women trying to overcome social and sexual subjugation, and Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut’s acclaimed satirical lampooning of the arms race. The parents did not file a formal complaint about the book, instead opting to put pressure directly on members of the school board and circulating a petition that calls for the revision of the school’s curriculum. Sources indicate that the primary instigators of the challenge do not have children enrolled in the courses that utilize the titles.

A couple of weeks ago, CBLDF reported on the story when a group of parents and students in the community attended a school board meeting to stand against the censors who would see the books removed. The school district has ...

Right to Wear Greek Letters Vindicated at UT Arlington

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Recently, FIRE intervened at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) after the Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) fraternity brought to our attention what I suspect is an all-too-common punishment against fraternities and sororities: the prohibition on displaying their letters in any way while the chapter was under investigation. After FIRE brought this issue to UTA's attention, the university promised that students and student organizations at UTA enjoy the full freedoms of the First Amendment. 

Here's the background on the chain of events resulting in this unconstitutional punishment for SigEp, as we wrote in a letter to UTA President James D. Spaniolo on September 13: 

Following an off-campus party held February 4, 2012, which resulted in allegations of "hazing," UTA's Sigma Phi Epsilon ("SigEp") chapter was notified in a February 10 letter from SigEp national Chapter Services Director Josh Hodnichak that it was to "immediately cease any and all chapter activities." These activities included "new member activities, Inter-Fraternity Council events, intramural games, social events, chapter meetings, and all other chapter activities." SigEp complied with these orders. SigEp President Troy Maikowski received a similar letter, also dated February 10, from Heather L. Snow, then director of UTA's Office of Student Conduct, ...

Who’s Tracking Your Reading Habits? An E-Book Buyer’s Guide to Privacy, 2012 Edition

Friday, November 30th, 2012

See the chart here.

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and once again e-book readers promise to be a very popular gift. Last year's holiday season saw ownership of a dedicated e-reader device spike to nearly 1 in 5 Americans, and that number is poised to go even higher. But if you're in the market for an e-reader this year, or for e-books to read on one that you already own, you might want to know who's keeping an eye on your searching, shopping, and reading habits.

Unfortunately, unpacking the tracking and data-sharing practices of different e-reader platforms is far from simple. It can require reading through stacked license agreements and privacy policies for devices, software platforms, and e-book stores. That in turn can mean reading thousands of words of legalese before you read the first line of a new book.

As we've done since 2009, again we've taken some of the most popular e-book platforms and combed through their privacy policies for answers to common privacy questions that users deserve to know. In many cases, these answers were frustratingly vague and long-winded. In nearly all cases, reading e-books means giving up more privacy than browsing through ...

Teens Win Censorship Battle Against Sony Over “Read It” Video

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Lansdowne public librarian Abbe Klebanoff came to us last week, dismayed over Sony’s censorship of a video she and her students had made to encourage teens to read. The video takes Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and transformed the song into “Read It”, with a dance to boot.

When the kids tried to upload the video to YouTube, Sony sent them a cease and desist letter. After some protest and media attention, Sony backed down on their claims of copyright infringement, allowing the library to post the parody. Good Morning America reported on the censorship and Ms. Klebanoff wrote a short essay on the issue for NCAC.


Creeley: ‘Why Banning Offensive Speech on Campus Fails’

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley's latest column on The Huffington Post takes head-on the idea that offensive speech should be restricted or banned on college campuses. It can be tempting to give colleges a pass on restrictions on speech when the vast majority of people find it offensive—but it's still a bad idea. Why? Read Will's column, which features comments from Brookings scholar and author Jonathan Rauch as well as ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, to find out.

Ninth Circuit Gives the A-OK For Warrantless Home Video Surveillance

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Can law enforcement enter your house and use a secret video camera to record the intimate details inside? On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unfortunately answered that question with "yes."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents suspected Ricky Wahchumwah of selling bald and gold eagle feathers and pelts in violation of federal law. Equipped with a small hidden video camera on his clothes, a Wildlife agent went to Wahchumwah's house and feigned interest in buying feathers and pelts. Unsurprisingly, the agent did not have a search warrant. Wahchumwah moved to suppress the video as an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, but the trial court denied his motion. On appeal before the Ninth Circuit, we filed an amicus brief in support of Wahchumwah. We highlighted the Supreme Court's January 2012 decision in United States v. Jones -- which held that law enforcement's installation of a GPS device onto a car was a "search" under the Fourth Amendment -- and specifically focused on the concurring opinions of Justices Alito and Sotomayor, who were worried about the power of technology to eradicate privacy.

In our brief we argued that although a person may reveal small bits of information publicly or to ...

Attempt to Modernize Digital Privacy Law Passes the Senate Judiciary Committee

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

ECPA Reform Moves Forward to Require a Warrant for Your Email; Amendment to Weaken Video Privacy Protections Reined In

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would require the government to get a warrant before accessing our private electronic communications, like emails and Facebook messages. The bill could now proceed to the Senate Floor for a vote.

The package that passed out of committee included an amendment championed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would mandate that the government receive a probable cause warrant before accessing private electronic communications. This would close a dangerous loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which the Department of Justice has argued allows them to access private emails that are more than 180 days old without a warrant. This runs contrary to the privacy users expect in their digital communications as well as the Fourth Amendment. As the Washington Post said in an editorial yesterday, "If you left a letter on your desk for 180 days, you wouldn’t imagine that the police could then swoop in and read it without your permission, or a judge’s."

According to Lee Tien, EFF Senior Staff Attorney: "With this amendment, Congress is sending a strong ...

Syria Goes Dark

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Over the course of the past year, there have been numerous reports of localized telecommunications outages throughout Syria, however, today marks the first confirmed widespread shutdown. The shutdown, which has already been reported on by the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and Slate (among others) appears to affect the vast majority of consumers in Syria. Renesys—a company that provides network analysis and was instrumental in reporting on Egypt's 2011 Internet shutdown—reports that a few Syrian networks remain connected to the Internet, but that those networks are potentially offshore. Among those networks are the webservers implicated in the delivery of an ongoing campaign of malware targeting Syrian activists beginning in November 2011, adding to the circumstantial evidence pointing to the Syrian government as the ultimate actor behind this campaign.

In addition to Renesys, Google's Transparency Report is showing zero traffic from Syria, while the chart below from Akamai shows the time of the shutdown (10:26am UTC, or 12:26pm in Damascus), which has been confirmed by several other sources.

Akamai chart shows Syrian Internet shutdownThis chart from Akamai shows the time of Syria's Internet shutdown

Renesys continues to provide updates on the situation.

While it seems likely that the shutdown originates with the government—which controls ...

Greg & FIRE in D.C. for Two ‘Unlearning Liberty’ Events on Dec. 11

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Join FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and other FIRE staff in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, December 11, as we celebrate the release of Greg's new book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate with two events.  

At noon, FIRE will be at the Cato Institute as they host one of their popular book forums for Unlearning Liberty. Greg and moderator Trevor Burris, a legal associate at the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies, will engage in a cordial discussion of many of the fascinating and important issues in the book. Additional speakers might be brought on to join Greg and Trevor closer to the event date. A luncheon will follow the book forum. The whole event is free and open to the public, but registration is required at Cato's website. If you are interested in attending, please register today, as space is limited. For those outside the Washington D.C. area, the event will also be live streamed at www.cato.org/live.

BOOK FORUM

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12 p.m., noon (Luncheon to follow)

The Cato Institute

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20001

Registration: Cato's website

Later in the evening, just a few blocks from ...

NASA’s Data Valdez: Thousands of Employees’ Personal Information Compromised in Embarrassing Data Breach

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

For years, NASA has been collecting information on the intimate lives of their contract employees over the objections of civil liberties groups. Now a major data breach may have compromised the sensitive personal data of thousands of employees. Yesterday, employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge called for a congressional investigation into the data breach resulting from the theft of an employee’s laptop holding unencrypted data about thousands of NASA contract workers collected as a result of invasive background checks. The lesson here is clear: NASA should never have collected deeply intimate data about low-security contract employees when it couldn’t even properly protect the data.  

In 2007, NASA instituted invasive background checks for “low risk” employees who did not have access to classified materials. Employees at the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory—many of them long-term employees—had to submit forms to determine their “suitability” for their positions. The forms included listing three personal references such as “good friends, peers, colleagues, college roommates, etc.”  Personal references would then be asked to fill out a form which solicited a range of intimate facts about the applicant’s life, including her drug or alcohol abuse, financial integrity, general behavior, ...

What’s Going On in Central Asia?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Something is amiss in Central Asia. Just last Friday, Kazakh news site Tengri News reported that officials from Kazakhstan's General Prosecutor's office were refuting earlier claims that prosecutors had filed lawsuits against Google, Facebook, and Twitter and that the lawsuits were, in fact, against local newspapers Respublika and Vzglyad.

Whether the claims from the General Prosecutor's office are true or not, the fact that government officials are attempting to shut down opposition media is cause for alarm. Kazakhstan—never a beacon of free speech—has ramped up its efforts to control the Internet over the past few years. Nearly one year ago, the government cut access to communications in the western province of Zhanaozen. Then, in February, our friends at the Tor Project reported that Kazakhstan had "upgraded" its censorship capacity to deep packet inspection (additional information from Tor here). And just a few months later, it emerged that Swedish telecom giant TeliaSonera had sold high-tech surveillance gear to Kazakhstan, among other countries.

The latest crackdown targeting independent opposition media is condemnable. As Kazakhstan is one of the new members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, its government's latest move is exceptionally alarming; we echo Reporters Without Borders in ...

Remembering Spain Rodriguez

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

It is with tremendous sadness that we mark the passing of Spain Rodriguez, the pioneering underground cartoonist who expanded the boundaries of comics and who was, as a member of the Zap Comix collective, one of the first cartoonists in the United States to make work deemed obscene in U.S. courts. Rodriguez passed away at his home in San Francisco this week at the age of 72.

Spain was born Manuel Rodriguez in Buffalo, New York, in 1940. He first rose to comics prominence in the late 1960s as a contributor to the NYC tabloid East Village Other, where he introduced Trashman, his most iconic character. In 1968 Spain published the comics tabloid Zodiac Mindwarp, a forerunner of Gothic Blimp Works, the tabloid initially edited by Vaughn Bode and then by Kim Deitch that was the standard bearer of underground comix in New York City. Rodriguez moved to San Francisco in 1969, where he struck up a friendship with R. Crumb and began contributing to the iconic title Zap. Through the 1970s, he was a prolific contributor to a wide range of underground titles, and in the 1980s and 1990s, he explored a diverse range of artistic activity ...

Celebrate the Season with CBLDF at Wizard World New Orleans!

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

MEDIA @ NEW ORLEANS COMIC CONWizard World New Orleans Comic Con is set to take place November 30 – December 2, 2012, and CBLDF will be at booth #813 with an exclusive assortment of collectible comics, signed graphic novels, t-shirts, prints, and more! You’ll be able to find gifts for the comics fans in your life or goodies for yourself!

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein will be holding down the fort at booth #813 with a tremendous selection of gifts for the comics fan in your life that he personally selected from the CBLDF’s fundraising archive.  Here’s your chance to get the SAGA #7 Ghost Variant, rare CBLDF Exclusive Liberty Annual variants signed by Jim Lee or Frank Quitely, a warehouse find of copies of Sunbird, the Neil Gaiman short story/BPAL fragrance set SIGNED by Gaiman, and even more!  We’ll also offer killer gifts for the graphic novel reader in your clan, including signed books from Neil Gaiman, Robert Kirkman, George R.R. Martin and many other of the biggest names in pop culture!

Wizard World New Orleans starts at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, November 30, and rolls through the weekend with an impressive guest list, convention exclusives, programming, and exhibitors. The convention takes place ...

Can a College Keep Students From Saying ‘Christmas’?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Can a college tell you that you can't use the word "Christmas"? Well, a public college in North Carolina certainly gave it a shot. 

FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley writes today for The Daily Caller about the absurd censorship of students at Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC). The Alliance Defending Freedom reported in a press release this morning that an environmental student group at WPCC called the BEST Society decided to raise funds for a project called Angel Tree, which provides Christmas gifts and other holiday fare for children of prisoners. The group filled out a request to have its "Christmas tree" fundraiser advertised, and the campaign was approved. However, within days, the word "Christmas" was replaced with "holiday"—in every single venue in which the advertisements appeared. 

Even though WPCC has now changed the wording back, its actions still prompt the question: Why did WPCC feel the need to take "Christmas" out? As Robert writes:

Why did this happen? Is WPCC hostile to Christmas? Perhaps; we're unlikely to know for sure. What's more likely, though, is that WPCC has imbibed the idea, so popular on campuses these days, that avoiding offense is not just a good thing ...

Don’t be a Petraeus: A Tutorial on Anonymous Email Accounts

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Tomorrow, as the Senate Judiciary Committee considers reforming the decades-old federal email privacy law, the personal Inboxes and love lives of senior military and intelligence figures may be on that august body's mind.  When the FBI pored through the personal lives of CIA Director David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell, Jill Kelly and General John Allen, citizens across the land began to wonder how the FBI could get that kind of information, both legally and technically.

So, just how do you exchange messages with someone, without leaving discoverable records with your webmail provider? This is an important practical skill, whether you need to use it to keep your love life private, to talk confidentially with a journalist, or because you're engaged in politics in a country where the authorities use law enforcement and surveillance methods against you.

The current state of anonymous communication tools is not perfect, but there here are some steps that, if followed rigorously, might have protected the Director of the CIA, the Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and their friends against such effortless intrusion into their private affairs.

Pseudonymous webmail with Tor

According to press reports, Broadwell and Petraeus used pseudonymous webmail accounts to talk to ...

ECPA and the Mire of DC Politics: We Shouldn’t Have to Trade Video Privacy to Get Common-Sense Protections of our Email

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is marking up a bill that would amend the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) in ways we think are unnecessary and potentially bad for users, giving companies new rights to share your video rental history after they get your “consent” just once. It undermines one of the strongest consumer privacy protections we now enjoy. But there is a silver lining: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is attaching an amendment to the bill requiring that the government get a search warrant before reading our emails. That’s great and we strongly support it.  But Americans shouldn’t have to give up any video privacy in order to get more email privacy.  Instead of horse-trading with our freedoms, we demand that Congress do the right thing: update the law to safeguard our email privacy without undermining video privacy protections in the process.

What Needs to be Protected

Leahy is right in pushing to reform the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)—a law passed in 1986 meant to protect our privacy in the digital technologies of that time. However, as the New York Times noted this week, the law is painfully out of date. And while the courts have increasingly ...

Call for Action: Tell Congress to Protect Online Privacy

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The Electronic Computer Privacy Act (ECPA) is scheduled for markup tomorrow, Thursday, November 29th, in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). Originally enacted in 1986 as a means of addressing telephonic wiretapping, at a time when technology was less complex and the Internet had not yet become a ubiquitous means of communication, ECPA is no longer adequate to protect the privacy of email and other digital communications. Reform is necessary to insure that the same legal requirements that protect the privacy of physical letters and packages are extended to electronic mail and the digital applications that store and transmit our data.

But reopening the ECPA for review and improvement has provided an opportunity for legislators and law enforcement agencies to propose provisions that would eliminate or weaken any privacy protections for electronic communications. One such proposal would allow federal agencies to obtain an individual’s email without a search warrant. Members of the Senate – particularly Senators serving on the Judiciary Committee – need to hear that we value our privacy and want ECPA reform that preserves and enhances Fourth Amendment protections for electronic communications, rather than removes those protections.

ACTION ALERT: Defend online privacy! Use this online tool to send an ...

Digital Rights Activists Gather in Auckland, New Zealand Next Week for the 15th Round of TPP Negotiations

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Next week, the 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) negotiations will begin in Auckland, New Zealand. Hundreds of delegates and private representatives from the now 11 participating nations will gather at a luxury casino to discuss this multi-faceted trade agreement. EFF, KEI, and the Stop the Trap coalition will also join dozens of other public interest groups to sound the alarm over the TPP's intellectual property (IP) chapter that could likely prompt countries to enact restrictive copyright enforcement laws that would have huge ramifications for users' access to digital content and information. As we mentioned previously, countries continue to join the negotiations with no end in sight.

Local and international groups have organized several events and meetings for civil society and country delegates during the negotiation round in order to call attention to the most pressing issues in the TPP. It's Our Future NZ has been putting on a series of events around New Zealand in November, with rallies and talks leading up to the national day of protest against the TPP on December 8th. EFF will be in Auckland covering these events and any new developments, and will participate in the stakeholder activities on December 7th, ...

EFF to U.S. Supreme Court: Limit Release of Driver Info

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Everyone hates going to the DMV. But even worse than having to wait in line for hours on end, is to learn that the personal information you provide to the DMV is being used for marketing purposes without your consent. So this month, we told the Supreme Court in an amicus brief that the release of this information needs to be strictly narrowed.

In 1994, Congress passed the Drivers Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA") to specifically protect driver information stored by state DMVs. Under the DPPA, information like your driver's license photo, social security number, or medical and disability information are considered "highly restricted personal information" which can be released by the state for marketing, solicitation and survey purposes only with the express consent of the driver. However, the DPPA has a few exceptions, allowing this information to be released without the consent of the driver to a government agency, an insurer, an employer to verify information about a commercial driver's license and finally in "connection with litigation." It's this last prong that's at issue before the Supreme Court: does the litigation exception to the DPPA include lawyers trying to solicit new clients?

The case before the court involves a ...

The Gaiman Foundation Contributes $60,000 to CBLDF for Education Program

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is grateful to acknowledge the generosity of the Gaiman Foundation, who today contributed $60,000 to advance the organization’s growing education program. After more than a decade of service, Neil Gaiman retired from the CBLDF’s Board of Directors earlier this year. This gift represents the start of a new phase in his relationship with the organization and provides essential support for the Fund’s education programs, which protect the freedom to read comics.

Gaiman says, “I’ve supported the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, initially through fundraising and awareness raising, and then as a member of the board of directors, for over twenty years now. The CBLDF has, through that time, grown from a one-person organization dealing with emergencies that would have wiped out creators and retailers to what it is now: a major force in fighting censorship and preserving First Amendment liberties for those of us who read, create, publish or sell comics on paper or on the web.”
During his tenure as a board member, Gaiman was instrumental in developing the CBLDF’s education program, which will now be advanced as a result of the Gaiman Foundation gift. “Part of the CBLDF’s purpose is educational,” Gaiman ...

Do Not Track Update: Professor Peter Swire to Co-Chair W3C Tracking Protection Working Group

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced today that it appointed Prof. Peter Swire of Ohio State University’s Moritz School of Law as a new co-chair of its Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG), which is working on the Do Not Track (DNT) standard. Swire is no newcomer to the DNT debate, and criticized current online behavioral advertising industry self-regulation this summer.

Swire will join current TPWG co-chair Matthias Schunter, who will focus on the Do Not Track protocol specification. Swire will lead the TPWG's work on DNT compliance, replacing Aleecia M. McDonald, a well-known privacy researcher and Resident Fellow at the Stanford Center for Information & Society.

While we've enjoyed working with McDonald through the multi-stakeholder process and are sorry to see her move on, we look forward to working with Swire on hammering out powerful standards for protecting online privacy. Congratulations, Professor Swire.

Related Issues: 

Journalist’s Case Raised by Obama

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama raised concerns over the jailing of an independent Cambodian radio station chief during his visit to the country last week but did not specifically call for the journalist’s release, a Cambodian official said Tuesday.

The official spoke as the wife of 71-year-old Mam Sonando, director of Beehive Radio, pleaded with the Cambodian government to release the independent broadcaster following his recent conviction for masterminding a revolt of villagers over a land dispute. He has rejected the charges.

Cambodia's Council of Ministers Spokesman Phay Siphan said that during Obama’s historic visit to Phnom Penh—the first by a sitting U.S. head of state—the president had simply raised the situation of the country’s political prisoners with Prime Minister Hun Sen during bilateral talks.

“It was only [mentioned as] a concern of the president, not a request,” Phay Siphan said when asked if Obama had called on Hun Sen to release Mam Sonando.

“[Obama] was worried about political prisoners and asked Cambodia to release them. In response, Prime Minister Hun Sen explained that in the Kingdom of Cambodia there are no political prisoners—only politicians who were convicted for breaking the law,” he said.

“There wasn’t any request [to release Mam ...

‘Unlearning Liberty’ in ‘Newsday,’ ‘The Register Citizen,’ and ‘University News’

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

In the past 24 hours, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and his book Unlearning Liberty have received quite a bit of media attention. In a review of Unlearning Liberty published in Newsday yesterday, Cathy Young uses examples from the book to expose the threat to free speech posed by universities enforcing policies that punish students who say something that might offend others:

The focus of "Unlearning Liberty" is the push to censor speech and even thought in the name of political correctness -- sensitivity to oppressed groups defined by race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics. While these groups have suffered real and egregious injustice, Lukianoff's well-documented narrative leaves no doubt that the cure offered by many U.S. colleges is worse than the disease.

In a separate review, Andy Thibault gives Unlearning Liberty high praise and warns readers of The Register Citizen (Conn.) to beware of campus speech codes. "Reading them can put you to sleep," he writes, "but they pose a clear and present danger in the hands of the still-burgeoning and all-too-healthy class of university bureaucrats."

Students are also taking note of Unlearning Liberty. In an op-ed published this morning in the student newspaper for ...

USA Today’s Pop Candy Blog Spotlights CBLDF

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Earlier this week, Zack Smith took some time to spotlight CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving campaign for the Pop Candy blog on USAToday.com. Smith touched base with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein, who described the campaign in the opening paragraph to a mini essay:

Want to give the best holiday gift to the comics fan in your life this year? Not just a “Cool! How did you know!” gift. But a deep, hyperventilating “OH MY GOD!” gift that they’ll remember forever? And do you want that gift to make a socially responsible difference? Then look no further than the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which from now until Dec. 5, is offering the opportunity to get a tremendous selection of graphic novels signed and personalized by some of the world’s greatest comics authors!

Brownstein goes on the describe some of the work that donations to the campaign support, including the defense of Matthew Loux’s SideScrollers and more. Brownstein also rattles of a who’s who of comics creators who are supporting the campaign:

Thanks to the Fund, creators, readers and retailers are protected when censorship threats arise. That’s why Jason Aaron, Mike Allred, Sergio Aragones, Alison Bechdel, Chris Burnham, Cliff Chiang, ...

Tibetan Student Protesters Held

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Chinese authorities arrested four Tibetan students Tuesday after opening fire and suppressing a mass student demonstration in Qinghai province a day earlier, sources said, as another Tibetan burned himself to death in neighboring Sichuan province in protest over Chinese rule.

Five of 20 wounded Tibetan students following the Chinese crackdown on the student protests in Chabcha (in Chinese, Gonghe) county were in critical condition in hospital, the sources said.

More than 1,000 students, led by those from the Tsolho Medical Institute, had protested Monday over the release of an official Chinese booklet which ridiculed the Tibetan language as irrelevant and condemned the series of self-immolation protests against Beijing's rule as acts of "stupidity," local residents had said.

"The armed security forces fired in the air and then fired several tear gas shots on the protesting students," a Tibetan source in exile told RFA's Tibetan service, citing local students.

"Many were beaten and several students were injured from the beating and smoke inhalation. About 20 of them were hospitalized for treatment and among them five students are reported to be in critical condition."

Free Tibet, a London-based advocacy group, said armed security forces beat the peaceful protesters with rifle butts.

Police ...

Getting it Wrong on ‘Preponderance’

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Over at Minding the Campus, Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson highlights a shocking c-ville (Charlottesville, Va.) interview with Wendy Murphy, discredited media pundit and adjunct professor of law at New England Law. Johnson takes issue with the interviewer's dereliction of duty, failing to note Murphy's history of "repeatedly [making] false statements of fact about the [Duke lacrosse] case ... coupled with myriad unsubstantiated claims and bizarre interpretations of law" with respect to the Duke lacrosse scandal in which Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of rape and later exonerated.

Johnson also highlights this shockingly incorrect statement of law by Murphy, commenting on the April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague Letter" and the "preponderance of the evidence" standard of proof:

[In one case, d]espite finding [an accuser's testimony] "credible and compelling," a panel ruled in favor of the accused, said Murphy. And that's a problem.

"The preponderance standard is simple," Murphy said. "When [an accuser's] accusations are deemed credible, and [a defendant's] denials are not described with the same glowing terminology, [the accuser] wins."

As Johnson notes, Murphy is essentially arguing that "a failure to convict amounts to an OCR violation." Johnson writes that "[f]or the OCR even to consider [Murphy's] ...

An Unrelenting Comedian–Critic

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

RANGOON—He is a dynamo with the shaved head of a monk and a twinkle in his eye.

He is feted and honored in world capitals as a former political prisoner who never lost his voice for justice and human rights through the dark days of oppression in Burma.

Between trips abroad, he’s managing a media center to promote journalists, writers, and documentary producers; producing a movie with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi about her father; trying to solve one of the country’s thorniest ethnic conflicts; campaigning for the release of all remaining political prisoners; and introducing stand-up comedy to Burma.

Perhaps most important, he’s an outspoken advocate of compromise with the very men who, as generals in Burma’s former military dictatorship, threw him in prison four times for a total of 11 years for refusing to be silenced.

All this and sleeping many nights on the floor of his Rangoon office.

“I’m so busy,” says Zarganar, the one-time dentist who, after the dictatorship killed thousands of anti-government protesters in 1988, emerged as an unrelenting comedian–critic of the regime.

Zarganar spoke with me in the conference room of his new media center, a five-story building on Bo Aung Kyaw street ...

“Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

In these uncertain economic times, it is hard to make the case that one should choose to support an organization that serves a principle like free speech over those that provide immediate and tangible assistance to those suffering the severe effects of poverty, war, or famine.  So difficult in fact, we at the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression are not asking you to make that choice.  If a gift to the Center would diminish what you would give to these other causes, then please read no further.  If, however, you have the resources to make an additional gift, no matter how small, we hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Thomas Jefferson Center on Giving Tuesday, November 27. While this economy requires difficult choices, we can never forget that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Deadline Extended: There’s Still Time to Enter FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Deadline Extended: There's Still Time to Enter FIRE's Free Speech Essay Contest!

Attention all high school juniors and seniors: FIRE has extended the deadline for our Free Speech Essay Contest to January 2, 2013

Nine high school students will win a combined $20,000 in scholarship awards, including at $10,000 grand prize for the best essay and a drawing among all entrants for four $500 prizes. Entering is easy: Watch two short FIRE videos and write an essay explaining why free speech is important on college campuses for the chance to win. 

Please help us spread the word to the high school students in your life. Full contest details, the videos, and submission form can all be found at thefire.org/contest.

UPDATED FIRE Essay Contest FAQ

Who can enter the essay contest?

Current high school juniors graduating in 2014 and high school seniors graduating in 2013 who plan to attend college are eligible to submit an essay for consideration.

What is the deadline for entering?

Deadline for submissions is January 2, 2013. Winners will be announced by January 31, 2013

What is the essay question?

Why is free speech important at our nation's colleges and ...

Jurors: Law School Discriminated Against Teresa Wagner Due to Her Political Beliefs

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Last week, The Des Moines Register reported that jurors in the Teresa Wagner case believe that the University of Iowa College of Law "illegally denied a promotion to a conservative Republican because of her politics." The story has been picked up by various legal blogs. At FIRE, we have covered the Wagner case before

The most interesting result of the jury verdict last week is that the jury was convinced Wagner was discriminated against due to her political beliefs but believed it was the University of Iowa College of Law itself, and not the dean, that was responsible for the discrimination. As reported:

Jurors interviewed by the Register said that they didn't accept the university's explanation and that they believed Wagner, who still works part time in the U of I's Law Writing Resource Center, had been discriminated against.

However, four jurors told the Register in interviews since the trial ended that they also believed that the school itself — not the former law school dean, Carolyn Jones — should have been named as the responsible party in the lawsuit. There was disagreement within the jury as to whether Jones had the explicit ability to hire Wagner ...

Treaty for the Blind: A Watered Down Agreement Moves Forward at the World Intellectual Property Organization

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Last Friday, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) 185 country-members concluded another round of negotiations on exceptions and limitations for the blind and persons with printing disabilities. However, they did not reach a consensus on many of its most contentious issues, such as allowing exports of adapted works across borders and circumventing technological protection measures to enable accessibility. People with hearing disabilities were also written out of the draft. In addition, US negotiators were able to block exceptions and limitations for audiovisual works, under the pressure of MPAA. Who loses? All of us, but especially the 285 million visually impaired people in the world.

As noted by Chris Friend, head of the World Blind Union's (WBU) Right to Read campaign:

"We need [treaty] provisions to clearly permit cross-border sharing of accessible books both between organizations and directly from organizations to blind or print disabled individuals. We reject complicated requirements for checks on whether the books are commercially available. Such procedures would sacrifice the usability of the treaty on the altar of publisher reassurance." 

Late in the day, the Committee adopted the Draft Text of an International Instrument/Treaty [DOC].But many of the important decisions were deferred to an “extraordinary session” ...

Hunan Frees Rights Campaigners

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hunan have released from house arrest around 20 supporters of a labor activist after they disputed suicide as the official verdict of his death.

Li Wangyang had died under suspicious circumstances in June.

Family members and Li’s fellow activists had become the target of a government crackdown in recent months after they challenged the official account of his death and its immediate aftermath by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

"It has been the same for all of us," said Li Jianjun, rights activist and resident of Hunan's Shaoyang city. "We have all been released [from house arrest] in the past few days, probably about 20 people in all."

"There were around 20 in Shaoyang ... but I don't know about the ones who live elsewhere," Li said.

Authorities across China began to release rights activists held in detention centers and hotels or under house arrest following the smooth transition of power to the next generation of ruling Chinese Communist Party leaders on Nov. 14, though a number remain unaccounted for.

Across the country, dissidents, Christian believers, academics and lawyers, among others, have been subjected to enforced disappearance, forced 'holidays,' house arrest, detention, and ...

‘Michigan Capitol Confidential’: State of Michigan Has Too Many Speech Codes

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Michigan Capitol Confidential, a news service from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, highlights the state of free speech at Michigan's colleges and universities and points out that at state campuses, students can face punishment for such expression as "insulting language," "posting obnoxious or inappropriate announcements," and "harmful" or "vulgar" speech.

As the article discusses, the state of Michigan has an overall poor record with respect to campus free speech, with 10 of the 13 institutions rated by FIRE earning a "red light" rating and the remaining three receiving a "yellow light." 

I was happy to talk to Michigan Capitol Confidential about the problems in my home state: 

"Public universities have a legal obligation under the First Amendment to uphold a student's right to free speech," said Azhar Majeed, associate director of legal and public advocacy with FIRE. "The fact that most of Michigan's universities and colleges rated have a 'red light' is certainly disappointing."

Check out the full article to read more about the specific policies violating student free speech rights at Michigan's colleges and universities. Our thanks to Michigan Capitol Confidential for its coverage.

‘The Imperiled Freedom the Candidates Ignored’

Monday, November 26th, 2012

In RealClearPolitics, Peter Berkowitz, Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, makes the case that "liberty of thought and discussion" is a critical issue that the presidential candidates ignored during this year's election. 

Among his recommendations in this interesting article: "Anyone who doubts the weakening of these principles of freedom in the American mind or the threat that this poses to constitutional self-government in the United States should read attorney Greg Lukianoff's superb book, ‘Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.'" 

Head to RealClearPolitics to see more of Berkowitz's take on Unlearning Liberty!