Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Third Annual D(EFF)CONtest Begins!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Protect Coders' Rights!Heads up, hackers — if you want to help support EFF’s Coders’ Rights Project and do DEF CON right, then go all in with our Third Annual D(EFF)CONtest. You could hit the jackpot with a stay at the Rio, DEF CON 20 Human Badges, passes to the exclusive Ninja Party, and so much more.

EFF is proud to support the information security community, and we want to help our strongest supporters roll in style at DEF CON 20. Spread the word about EFF’s work defending coders’ rights, and you may just find yourself party-hopping at exclusive DEF CON events, while staying in a complimentary Vegas suite!

WHAT YOU'LL WIN!

The Grand Prize Package:
• A standard suite at the Rio Hotel and Casino for the nights of July 26-29;
• Two DEF CON 20 Human badges;
• Two passes to Vegas 2.0’s (in)famous kickoff party, theSummit, on July 26;
• Two badges for the ultra-exclusive Ninja Networks Party; and
• An EFF Swag Super Pack.

The Second Place Package:
• Two DEF CON 20 Human badges;
• Two tickets to the Vegas 2.0 Party; and
• An EFF Swag Super Pack.

The Third Place Package:
• One DEF CON ...

Vote for Your Favorite Comics-On Tees Design in the Threadless Challenge!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

Wow! The response to the Threadless Comics-On Tees vol. 6 design challenge has been phenomenal, with 73 artists having a go at designing the first in a series of four shirts featuring Neil Gaiman’s “The Day the Saucers Came.” The challenge isn’t over yet — the Threadless community of 1.8 million users is voting on their favorite design, and you can join their ranks! Voting ends in three days, so head over to the Threadless Atrium to pick your favorite now!

The winner of the contest will have his or her design debuted this summer at Comic-Con International San Diego. The artist will join Ben Templesmith (Fell, 30 Days of Night), Brandon Graham (Prophet, King City), and John Cassaday (Captain America, Planetary) in the four-shirt series that features Neil Gaiman’s story of zombies, aliens, and giants! CBLDF will receive 25% of the proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts to support its ever-important First Amendment work.

For more information on the Comics-On Tees design challenge and to vote for your favorite, head over to the Threadless website.

TPP Exposed: a Video to Raise Awareness about the Agreement’s Secretive Negotiations

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The next round of secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations begin today in Dallas, Texas. Once again, civil society and other public stakeholder representatives will be shut out of the official meetings, despite the vast impact this international agreement will have on economies and societies around the world. A number of organizations have stakeholder events planned around the week of negotiations, but we are still denied the ability to even view the current content of the TPP, and therefore it's extremely limiting for us to address the likely impact of TPP on the millions of citizens it will affect.

Public Citizen has released this parodic video to help raise public awareness about the TPP and to demand transparency in its negotiation process.

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EFF opposes the creation of new global intellectual property enforcement rules that target the Internet through secretive agreements negotiated behind closed doors between a handful of trading partners. The leaked U.S. intellectual property chapter from the February 2011 draft of TPP made clear that its proponents want to regulate online expression and create legal frameworks that encourage Internet intermediaries to police networks and platforms on behalf of private party ...

This Week in Transparency: Drones, Secret Surveillance, and Classifying the Wizard of Oz

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Domestic and International Drone Secrecy

As EFF reported last week, the FAA finally released the names of the government agencies which have applied for and received authorization to fly drones in the US. Previously, the FAA had kept this information secret, and the agency only released it in response to EFF’s lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

Unfortunately, the list did not include what types of drones were authorized to fly in U.S. airspace, what they were being used for, and what type of information they were collecting. The list may be incomplete as well. The FAA has promised to release more information soon, and EFF will publish that information as soon as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, concerning the secrecy surrounding the CIA’s drone program, ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer and Nathan Freed Wessler wrote an op-ed for the New York Times last week explaining how the CIA was abusing a doctrine in FOIA known as the “Glomar Response” which allows the government, in some situations, to refuse to confirm or deny a document or program exists. In the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit over the CIA’s drone program, the government has, so far, refused to acknowledge that the program exists.

Of ...

This Week in Internet Censorship: A Resignation in the Palestinian Authority, China Tries to Make a Blind Man Disappear, and Vietnam Prepares to Attack Anonymous Speech

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Palestinian Authority Communications Minister Resigns Over Internet Censorship

Two weeks ago, news broke that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was blocking eight websites critical of President Mahmoud Abbas. In the wake of that news, the US Department of State expressed concern and PA Communications Minister Mashour Abu Daqa resigned, stating that the PA's Attorney General, Ahmad Al Mughni, had ordered the bans. In response, Al Mughni defended the censorship, stating that some sites had been "blocked for legal reasons" while others were censored for "security reasons." Nevertheless, Al Mughni's actions were not based in law, as the Palestinian Authority lacks any regulation governing the Internet. Aside from Al Mughni's support, the censorship has been widely condemned, both within the Palestinian government and from human rights and press freedom groups.

Chinese Censors Try to Erase Escaped Activist, Encounter Streisand Effect

News about Chinese activist Chen Gaungchen has been censored by the Chinese government for months, but last week--in the wake of the blind lawyer’s spectacular escape from house arrest--the Chinese government immediately expanded their campaign aimed at erasing all references to the story from social media.

The Associated Press reported a list of phrases that have been blocked by government censors, ...

Dept. of Education Challenged by FIRE, Coalition about Silence on Threats to Student Rights

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Here's today's press release: 

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2012—In an open letter sent today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and 19 other signatories urge the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to address the threats to student rights posed by OCR's "Dear Colleague" letter regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. 

Today's open letter asks OCR to remedy the threat to student due process rights presented by new mandates announced in the agency's April 4, 2011, "Dear Colleague" letter. OCR now requires that colleges and universities receiving federal funding employ our judiciary's lowest standard of proof (the "preponderance of the evidence" standard) in adjudicating sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. OCR also requires that institutions provide the accuser a right to appeal if the accused is provided that right, forcing the accused to defend himself or herself even after being cleared of wrongdoing, which violates the principle of fundamental fairness enshrined in our constitutional prohibition of "double jeopardy."

The open letter also asks OCR to affirm the definition of peer-on-peer sexual harassment provided by the Supreme Court of the United States in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education (1999), noting that OCR's "Dear Colleague" ...

Choose Privacy Week 2012: Why We Should Care About Privacy

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Doug Archer, chair of the Privacy Subcommittee of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee (ALA-IFC), closes our Choose Privacy Week observance with a thoughtful reflection on why individuals should care about privacy:

Why We Should Care About Privacy
by J. Douglas Archer, Reference and Peace Studies Librarian, University of Notre Dame, and chair of the ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee

It never ceases to amaze me when people ask “Why do you care about privacy if you don’t have anything to hide?” The implication, of course, is that you do have some deep, dark, dirty little (or big) secret and, if found out, you’d be ostracized by friends and neighbors – if not sent to the big house for 10 to 20. Of course in the real world everyone has things to hide, things they would prefer that the world not know. Usually these are simply private normal matters of everyday life that would be merely embarrassing if viewed by the general public. In other cases, however, they are private concerns that once made public could have a devastating impact on the persons in question or their families – but are in no way criminal.

Let’s start with trivia. I can’t imagine many people (other than a ...

Oracle v. Google and the Dangerous Implications of Treating APIs as Copyrightable

Monday, May 7th, 2012

There has been no lack of ink spilled on the legal battle between Oracle and Google surrounding Google’s use of Java APIs in its Android OS. And no wonder, what with testimony by both Larrys (Page and Ellison), claims of damages up to $1 billion, and rampant speculation that a ruling in Oracle’s favor could change the way we all use the Internet. Today, we got our first taste of where this all might be heading: the jury came back with a finding that, assuming APIs are subject to copyright, Google has infringed at least some of Oracle's. But significant outstanding questions remain, including whether copyright can in fact apply (the judge alone will decide this) and whether Google made a legal fair use of those APIs (we believe it did).

What’s really at stake here? This first stage of the trial concerns whether Oracle can claim a copyright on Java’s APIs and, if so, whether Google infringes those copyrights. (In 2010, Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, which developed Java.) When it implemented the Android OS, Google wrote its own version of Java. But in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google relied on Java’s APIs. ...

On Graduation Day, Remedial Lessons on Free Speech Needed at Auburn

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Auburn University senior Eric Philips is one of the more than 3,300 Auburn students being awarded their degrees today at the university's commencement ceremonies. He has also been working with FIRE for months now to reform Auburn's restrictive policy banning window decorations—which seems to include the Ron Paul banner he was told to remove from his window last fall, but exclude the many banners and other items fellow students have hung there without incident. As I noted recently, Auburn has recast its argument to one based on protecting the "safety, health and wellbeing" of the Auburn student population, which, if one took this claim seriously, makes Auburn look all the worse for its lax enforcement of a rule about safety. 

Now, in a letter published in the Opelika-Auburn News, Philips makes one more plea for Auburn to get the message on free speech, pointing out that the restrictions on free speech in place at Auburn extend well beyond its residence hall windows: 

Recently, officials allowed a large Obama poster to remain in place for months. This is the way it should be. The university should allow free expression for all students on all issues.

Whichever administrator decided ...

Good Citizenship for Online Service Providers: Let’s Not Let the DailyKos Takedown Be a Preview of the 2012 Campaign Season

Monday, May 7th, 2012

A few weeks back, radio host Rush Limbaugh pushed the Sandra Fluke saga into new legal territory by firing off a bogus DMCA notice to YouTube demanding it take down a seven-minute montage of Limbaugh's "most vile smears." The creators of the video, left-leaning political site DailyKos, correctly pointed out that the video is fair use and joined us in calling on YouTube to reinstate the video. Happily, YouTube did just that.

Unfortunately, this episode may foreshadow a new wave of DMCA abuse targeting political activity. Here’s why: the DMCA's "notice-and-takedown" procedure says that in order to maintain a safe harbor status online service providers (like YouTube) must remove content as soon as they get a valid takedown notice. Then if the original poster of the content (in this case, DailyKos) responds with a counter-notice, the service provider (again, YouTube) has 10-14 days to put it back up.

That 10-14 day period can give DMCA abusers two weeks of censorship for free. It's one of the factors that makes the DMCA ripe for abuse: rightsholders who don't mind ending up in the Takedown Hall of Shame can get embarrassing videos pulled out of the public conversation for two ...

‘Off With His Head’ In Idaho

Monday, May 7th, 2012

This week saw another ridiculously petty installment in the drama over the rights of faculty members at Idaho State University, where President/Emperor Arthur Vailas and Provost/Grand Vizier Barbara Adamcik have been waging a war against the Faculty Senate for more than a year. Beginning with Vailas' suspension of the Faculty Senate in the wake of a vote of no confidence in Vailas and the previous provost, the administration of Idaho State has been spending its time attempting to hamstring its critics in increasingly ridiculous ways, most recently by denying the faculty senate-in-exile access to its usual university email listserv to discuss governance issues while using the same list to send out administration-approved items. (A federal court backed ISU's right to do that, but it makes it no less lame that ISU chose to do that.)

But whenever you think the Potentates of Pocatello have dug down as low as they can go, they find a new one. This time, ISU fired emeritus professor Leonard Hitchcock from his job at the library (where he had volunteered for the last 5 years before being rewarded this year with the princely salary of 11 bucks an hour) after he wrote a column ...

comiXology Joins CBLDF As A Corporate Member

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) announced today that comiXology — the world’s largest digital comics platform with over 60 million downloads to date — has become the organization’s newest Corporate Member. ComiXology joins industry leaders Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Diamond Comic Distributors, Image Comics, Legendary Comics, Random House, and Threadless as Corporate Members supporting the CBLDF’s important work of protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.

“There is no time like the present to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund,” said comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger. “With freedom of speech being encroached upon at every corner, especially as new digital content platforms arise, comiXology is happy to show our commitment to free speech and the comics industry with this donation. If you have yet to become a member and are a comic book fan, please do so today.”

“We’re grateful that comiXology is taking this leadership position in supporting the CBLDF’s important work,” says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “We have already seen prosecutions resulting from comics delivered in the digital realm, and those prosecutions are still on the rise. The CBLDF maintains ...

New Choose Privacy Week Documentary: “Vanishing Liberties”

Monday, May 7th, 2012

On the final day of Choose Privacy Week 2012, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is excited to debut a new short documentary, “Vanishing Liberties: The Rise of State Surveillance in the Digital Age.

The documentary examines the government’s growing use of surveillance tools to track and spy on immigrant communities and the proposals to adopt these same tools to monitor and track the activities of all Americans.

The featured speakers ask important questions about the impact of the growing surveillance state on national security, civil liberties and privacy rights. They include Michael German, American Civil Liberties Union senior policy counsel for national security and privacy; Margaret Huang, executive director of the Rights Working Group; Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project; Julia Shearson, executive director at Council on American Islamic Relations – Cleveland; and Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.  The producer and director of the film is Laura Zinger of 20KFilms.

The documentary is available for viewing as a streaming download at the Choose Privacy Week website, www.privacyrevolution.org, or via these links to Vimeo or YouTube.  It’s our hope ...

Bloggers’ Trial Fixed, Then Postponed

Monday, May 7th, 2012
Three netizens in Vietnam face charges for ‘conducting propaganda.’

Tunisian Broadcaster Fined for Showing PERSEPOLIS

Monday, May 7th, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

After a delayed trial, a panel of five judges convicted Nabil Karoui, the director of Tunisia’s Nessma television channel, of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” for airing Persepolis, the animated film version of Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed graphic novel. The film has a brief depiction of God, which is considered offensive by many Muslims. Karoui has been fined the equivalent of $1,600 and two members of his staff, who played a role in the airing of the film, were each fined $800.

Lawyers for several Islamist groups had called for tougher penalties, ranging from a 5-year prison term to the death penalty. The airing of the film led to violent demonstrations, several of which attempted to shut down the television station, and the verdict was greeted by protestors on both sides. Marc Fisher with The Washington Post covered the verdict, and wrote about the implications for Free Speech in Tunisia:

One of Karoui’s attorneys, Abada Kefi, said he had “hoped that today would be a celebration of freedom of expression and media here in Tunisia, but this is rather an occasion for mourning. This decision is a strike against creativity and freedom of expression.” ...

EFF Calls for the Release of Bahraini Activist Nabeel Rajab

Monday, May 7th, 2012

For more than a year, the government of Bahrain has done whatever it can to crack down on human rights activists, often expanding its reach to online dissidents. In January, for example, we wrote about the arrest of Zainab Al-Khawaja, a prominent activist both online and off, as well as attacks on Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Today, the crackdown continues. On May 5, Nabeel Rajab was arrested at Bahrain’s airport upon arriving home from Beirut. According to a statement from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the charges leveled against him are “participating in illegal assembly and calling others to join.” He may also face charges of “insulting the statutory bodies,” for which he was interrogated on April 26.

Following Rajab’s initial hearing on May 6, an article from the Bahrain News Agency implies that the latter charges relate to “cyber incitement”. In other words, Bahrain’s government believes that Rajab’s online activities “fuelled rioting, road blocking, arsons, acts of sabotage targeting public and private properties”, as well as the use of Molotov cocktails and “instigating [acts] targeting policemen whilst on duty.”

But Rajabs highly active Twitter account tells another story: ...

EFF Urges Appeals Court to Protect Forums Allowing Users to Speak Online

Monday, May 7th, 2012
Speculative Claims Against Yelp Barred by Federal Law

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging a federal appeals court to block an attempt by disgruntled businesses to make an end-run around the federal law that protects Yelp and other online forums from liability for their users' reviews. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Friday, EFF argues that the strong protections for hosts of forums in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) must be upheld to foster free speech online.

CDA 230 protects online service providers from liability and lawsuits over user-generated content, except in very narrow circumstances where the providers created or developed content themselves. In this case, several businesses filed suit against Yelp, claiming without factual support that the popular review site manipulated and manufactured reviews in order to coerce businesses to advertise on the website. A lower court already found that mere speculation of interference with public reviews was insufficient to evade the broad protection Congress created for online forums, and granted Yelp's motion to dismiss the case. In its amicus brief, EFF argued that lowering the standards for when a forum like Yelp ...

IFAction Round Up April 27-May 3, 2012

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

OIF sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. To subscribe to this list, visit http://lists.ala.org/wws/subscribe/ifaction. For an archive of all postings to the list since 1996, visit http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/ifaction. Below is a sample of articles from April 27-May 3, 2012.

Privacy

How the National Security Agency has gone rogue

Bits: Companies Raise Concerns Over Google Drive’s Privacy Protections 

FBI Workaround For Private Companies To Share Info With Law Enforcement Without CISPA
Related:  Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote

Obama order allows sanctions for using technology to violate human rights 

Social Media Rules Limit New York Student-Teacher Contact

Cybersecurity Legislation and Common Sense – Still Waiting for the Two to Meet

An Intentional Mistake: The Anatomy of Google’s Wi-Fi Sniffing Debacle

California Location Privacy bill moves to full Senate vote

Engel Introduces Bill to Protect Student Privacy

How to Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet 

Wireless Carriers Who Aid Police Are Asked for Data 

Censorship

Portland high schools take byte out of laptop use at home (ME)

Consumer groups say police should never be allowed to ...

RIP MCA: A Tribute To Paul’s Boutique and Music Sampling

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Today’s sad news of the passing of Adam Yauch, the Beastie Boy’s MCA, caused us to take a moment to reflect on the impact that the Beastie Boys, and their seminal record Paul’s Boutique, had on remix culture

Released in 1989, Paul’s Boutique reportedly contains somewhere between 100 and 300 samples. In fact, one of the engineers who worked on the record estimated that “95% of the sounds” on Paul’s Boutique came from samples. Paul’s Boutique went on to garner both critical acclaim and commercial success, and it’s no wonder. Along with records by De La Soul and Public Enemy, it broke new ground in remixing all kinds of samples and laid the groundwork for many of today’s popular artists, such as Girl Talk.

We think it’s pretty clear that the samples the Beastie Boys used in Paul’s Boutique and that Girl Talk now uses in his records are classic examples of fair use.  Unfortunately, many artists these days are nonetheless under pressure to pay licensing fees for similar uses. Despite the fact that most cases rightfully find that sampling is not copyright infringement, the mere threat of a lawsuit (and the specter of statutory damages) is ...

Make Every Day a Day Against DRM

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Today, we join the Free Software Foundation in celebrating a Day Against DRM. DRM software restricts the way users can interact with content, which hits close to home for an organization like EFF. Even worse, "anti-circumvention" laws that regulate whether users can bypass DRM, like section 1201 of the DMCA, effectively give that software the force of law.

A decade ago, most of the major players in the music industry were committed to using DRM on their products, restricting the devices users could use to play the songs they had purchased. Since then, that practice has all but disappeared, giving choice back to users and opening the market for more innovation.

But the fight continues in other media. Today, as e-books become increasingly popular, many publishers continue to use DRM, and many retailers are opaque about labeling e-books that are restricted with it. That's beginning to change, though: in just the last few weeks the science fiction publishing giant (and Macmillan subsidiary) Tor/Forge has committed to DRM-free e-books in 2012, joining independents like Sourcebooks and Smashwords are also putting their readers first.

These publishers join O'Reilly, a publishing house that's always been a vocal opponent of DRM. ...

‘Boston Globe’ Defends Bridgewater State Newspaper

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Recently, we've highlighted the threats to freedom of the press regarding The Comment, a student newspaper at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in Massachusetts, after it published the name and some other identifying information of a BSU student who had spoken publicly about her experiences as a victim of sexual assault at a BSU "Take Back the Night" rally. The controversy has drawn critics as well as defenders of the journalistic choices of The Comment, and The Boston Globe is one of the latest defenders.

Despite the fact that the student volunteered her story in front of a crowd of roughly 200 people, and that she had been mentioned by name in some promotions for the event, the paper was condemned by many at BSU for printing many of the details the student had publicly volunteered. The paper was victimized by thefts (which to the best of my knowledge remain unsolved), and the paper's editor-in-chief and faculty advisor were hauled into a meeting with BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria, where he pressured them to remove the article and reportedly threatened them with the possibility of shutting down the paper. Dave Copeland, the paper's advisor, may have been targeted individually as ...

DOJ Official: Any Privacy Protection is Too Much Privacy Protection for Cell Phone Tracking

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's criminal division, told a panel at the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee's "State of the Mobile Net" conference yesterday that requiring a search warrant to obtain location tracking information from cell phones  would "cripple" prosecutors and law enforcement officials. We couldn't disagree more.

For years, we've been arguing that cell phone location data should only be accessible to law enforcement with a search warrant. After all, as web enabled smart phones become more prevalent, this location data reveals an incredibly revealing portrait of your every move. As we've waged this legal battle, the government has naturally disagreed with us, claiming that the Stored Communications Act authorizes the disclosure of cell phone location data with a lesser showing than the probable cause requirement demanded by a search warrant. 

Since the new year, a number of significant developments has led to increased awareness on this important topic. First, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in United States v. Jones which held that the warrantless attachment of a GPS device on a car violated the Fourth Amendment's right to be free from unreasonable government searches. In concurring opinions, Justices ...

Uncool, Berkeley, Uncool.

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Last week, University of California, Berkeley freshman Derek Low made a video, which quickly went viral, about tweaks he made to his freshman dorm room. Instead of complimenting him for his creativity, Berkeley is dragging him into a judicial hearing.  

Low, an electrical engineering and computer science major, used his skills to turn his room, a typically small space he shares with two roommates, into B.R.A.D.—the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm. The room wakes him up in the morning, turns on lights when he walks through the door, has a sleeping, studying, and partying mode, and responds to both voice activation and apps that Low designed for his phone, iPad, and computer. And he did it all for between $200 and $300. He completed the project last Sunday; on Monday at 10 a.m. he uploaded a video about it. The video went viral (it has over 860,000 views on YouTube as of this posting), and Low gained a small amount of notoriety

But the party (mode) seems to be over. As Gizmodo reported yesterday, instead of being celebrated by the administration as an innovator and touted to alumni as but one of the many brilliant minds at work on ...

Crackdown Ahead of Buddha Day

Friday, May 4th, 2012
Vietnam is pressuring unregistered Buddhists leading up to a religious holiday.

Victory at Tufts after Crew Team Members Suspended for ‘Cox’ T-shirts

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Facing a rising tide of criticism and intervention from FIRE, Tufts University President Tony Monaco reinstated the suspended members of the men's crew team late on Thursday, just in time for this weekend's New England Rowing Championships. After the members wore T-shirts reading "check out our cox" (referring to a team's coxswain), the university had suspended them, pressed as many as four team captains to resign, and asked the members to deliver apologies for the "offense" caused by the T-shirts. Kudos to President Monaco for honoring Tufts' commitment to free speech.

As I described yesterday in The Huffington Post, the team members wore the T-shirts to celebrate Spring Fling, an annual music party for the campus. Then, someone filed a "bias incident" report, and a dean actually took it seriously and notified the coaches. (Shakespeare never would have made it through Tufts with all of his raunchy puns.) Apparently Dean Bruce Reitman or another dean said that the content of the T-shirt was "too phallic and promoted aggression and rape." 

Team members are not talking publicly, but the news got out. As the story goes, Director of Rowing Gary Caldwell instructed lower-level coaches to punish the students, and ...

Unsealed Court Records Confirm that RIAA Delays Were Behind Year-Long Seizure of Hip Hop Music Blog

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

After a year-long seizure and six more months of secrecy, the court records were finally released concerning the mysterious government takedown of Dajaz1.com – a popular blog dedicated to hip hop music and culture. The records confirm that one of the key reasons the blog remained censored for so long is that the government obtained three secret extensions of time by claiming that it was waiting for “rights holders” and later, the Recording Industry Association of America, to evaluate a "sampling of allegedly infringing content" obtained from the website and respond to other “outstanding questions.” 

In other words, having goaded the government into an outrageous and very public seizure of the blog, the RIAA members refused to follow up and answer the government’s questions. In turn, the government acted shamefully, not returning the blog or apologizing for its apparent mistake, but instead secretly asking the court to extend the seizure and deny Dajaz1 the right to seek return of its property or otherwise get due process. The government also refused to answer Congressional questions about the case. ICE finally released the domain name in December of 2011, again with no explanation. 

It’s not hard to guess what some ...

World Press Freedom Day: The U.S. Must Lead By Example

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Today, governments and organizations around the globe are celebrating World Press Freedom Day, marked by the United Nations in Tunisia this year at a week-long conference. As usual, the U.S. will play a prominent role in the celebration, with the State Department sending its own delegation, and a U.S. representative delivering remarks at the opening ceremony.

But as the State Department touts its press freedom record in a press release today and encourages other countries to improve their own laws, it’s also important to critically look at the U.S.’s current approach to press freedom, in particular their statement that “the United States honors and supports media freedom at home and abroad.”

Journalists' sources in the U.S. have been the hardest hit in recent years. The current administration has used the Espionage Act to prosecute a record six whistleblowers for leaking information to the press—more than the rest of the previous administrations combined. Many of these whistleblowers have exposed constitutional violations such as the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program and the CIA’s waterboarding practices—issues clearly in the public interest—and now face years in prison. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has brought no prosecutions for the crimes underlying the exposed allegations.

In addition, ...

FIRE to Stanford Graduate Student Council: Protect Students’ Due Process

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

The latest battleground for students' due process rights when facing allegations of sexual misconduct appears to be Stanford University, which is contemplating measures in its Alternative Review Process (ARP) that would fail to adequately protect students who are accused of some of society's vilest offenses. Yesterday, FIRE sent a letter to Stanford's Graduate Student Council (GSC) urging the GSC to not approve those measures and to stand up for their fellow students' fundamental due process rights.

The ARP has been the subject of a good deal of discussion and debate on Stanford's campus, and for good reason. Among other things, the ARP would (a) institute the low "preponderance of the evidence" (i.e., more likely than not) evidentiary standard for all cases where students are accused of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault; (b) allow an accusing student to appeal a hearing panel's finding, creating the circumstance of "double jeopardy" that is constitutionally disallowed in criminal cases; and (c) require a mere majority vote by the hearing panel, rather than unanimity, to reach a finding of guilt. FIRE is concerned about each of these issues and their potential to prevent accused students from having a fair, impartial, and reliable process.

Of course, ...

UPDATE: With May First/Riseup Server Seizure, FBI Overreaches Yet Again

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

UPDATE: Late last week, the FBI returned the seized server to the colocation facility that May First/People Link and Riseup shared. Yesterday, May First released video footage of the server's return. As we learn more details about the situation, we'll keep you posted.

The FBI is at it again -- executing broad search warrants, disrupting legitimate Internet traffic, and getting nothing in return.

Since the end of March, a number of anonymous bomb threats have been emailed to the University of Pittsburgh. Through its investigation, the FBI discovered the threats were being relayed through a server hosted by the progressive cooperative Internet Service Provider (ISP) May First/People Link (May First). The server was used by the European Counter Network (ECN), an Italian based activist group, and stored in a colocation facility in New York shared by May First and Riseup, an organization that provides secure communication tools for activists around the world. When the FBI paid May First a visit at their offices in New York, May First reached out to EFF, and we agreed to help. The next day the FBI returned to May First's offices, this time with a subpoena, requesting information about the server. We helped ...

Protect Yourself at International Borders

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival takes place this weekend, and CBLDF wants to make comics fans and creators crossing the border into Canada aware of their rights. Last year, several creators were subject to intrusive search on their way to TCAF, and creators Tom Neely and Dylan Williams had books seized by Canada Customs. In 2010, comics fan Ryan Matheson was arrested when he crossed the Canadian border with what Canada Customs thought were objectionable comic books on his laptop. You need to know your rights when crossing international borders with comic books.

In an interview with CBLDF, Neely and Williams described the search that led to the seizure before last year’s TCAF:

Neely: They asked us to stand by the wall of the building and asked for the keys to our car. They opened up our suitcases and pulled out a random sampling of about 5 comic books we had in our bags. Those included Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions and the Black Eye anthology published by Rotland Press, of which I’m a contributor. The security guy asked us what the books were. We described them as “art comics,” and he said he was going ...

Censorship of ‘Cox’ T-shirt Creates Waves of Outrage as FIRE Intervenes

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

My FIRE colleague (and Tufts University alumna) Alison Meyer blogged yesterday about a fast-developing controversy at Tufts, where the men's crew team has been punished for a rather tame double entendre printed on a T-shirt for Spring Fling (below). All involved rowers have been barred from rowing in this weekend's New England Championships, and two senior captains have been removed from their positions.



The "cox" in question is, of course, a reference to the crew team's coxswain. Nonetheless, the T-shirt was reported to Tufts under the university's bias incident policy, which allows complaints to be submitted anonymously, and a Tufts dean allegedly criticized the T-shirt as promoting aggression and rape. According to a confidential source (not a member of the team), the lower-level coaches were commanded by Director of Rowing Gary Caldwell to choose a punishment, which Caldwell and the dean's office would then approve.

News of the punishment first leaked yesterday on the Barstool Sports website, whose account was consistent with a case submission FIRE had received earlier. FIRE took the case public shortly after, and sent Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco a letter stating our serious concerns. As we told Tufts:

Although Tufts is a private university, ...

Special 301 Report 2012: The USTR’s Bogus List of Countries That "Don’t Enforce" Copyrights

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 report on Monday, a review of other countries’ intellectual property laws and enforcement standards. The Report lists countries that are singled out for having “bad” intellectual property policies on a tiered set of “watch lists”: the Watch List and the Priority Watch List. The USTR uses the threat of placement on one of these Watch Lists to pressure other countries to adopt heightened copyright, trademark and patent laws that mirror or in some cases exceed U.S. law. By being placed on this list, the USTR hints at the possibility of trade law repercussions. Although it does not directly lead to imposition of trade sanctions (as is the case for the top Priority Country designation), being put on the watch lists or singled out for an “out of cycle” review does lead to increased scrutiny and bilateral pressure for trading partners to change their laws.

What’s particularly obnoxious about the watch lists and the annual Special 301 process is that countries are being asked to adopt very particular implementations of international legal standards and interpretations of controversial parts of U.S. law that only reflect the interests ...

Fake Skype Encryption Tool Targeted at Syrian Activists Promises Security, Delivers Spyware

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The campaign of attacks targeting Syrian opposition activists on the Internet has taken a new turn. Since the beginning of the year, Syrian opposition activists have been targeted using several Trojans, which covertly install spying software onto the infected computer, as well as a multitude of phishing attacks which steal YouTube and Facebook login credentials. Last week, TrendMicro's Malware Blog described a website which purportedly offered Skype encryption software, but was actually a Trojan that installed DarkComet 3.3, a remote administration tool that allows an attacker to capture webcam activity, disable the notification setting for certain antivirus programs, record key strokes, steal passwords, and more--and sends that sensitive information to an address in Syrian IP space. This week, EFF has found an almost identical website located at http://skype-encryption.sytes.net/, shown in the screenshot below.

Clicking "download" downloads the fake Skype encryption application, called "Skype Encryption v2.1," shown in the screenshot below.

Launching the application produces a window that gives you the option to "Encrypt" or "DeCrypt," shown in the screenshot below.

When you click "Encrypt," the application launches a message asking you to please wait while it encrypts your connection, shown in the screenshot below. To be clear, this application ...

Tufts Cuts Off ‘Cox’ T-shirt

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The administration of Tufts University, whose infamy for disregarding the basic rights of its students and faculty members has landed the college a spot on FIRE's Red Alert list, has added another incident to its roster of abuses. This time, allegedly under disciplinary pressure from a dean, the director of Tufts' men's crew team not only suspended the entire team from racing at a championship event scheduled for this weekend, but also removed two students from the position of captain-all because of this T-shirt: 

This image has been cropped for space. Click the image to see full shirt

The crew team had created this T-shirt for the school's annual "Spring Fling," an outdoor concert. Traditionally, groups ranging from fraternities to dance troupes create T-shirts for the event. (As a Tufts alumna, I have been to four of them.) As you can see, the shirt states "check out our cox" above a picture of a silhouetted boat. "Cox" is short for "coxswain," the person who sits in the front of a boat and directs the rowers (and is obviously also a double entendre in this context). 

Most likely hoping to avoid the draconian approach Tufts administrators have historically taken to punishing free speech, the men's crew director suspended the team from participating ...

Vanderbilt Reaps What it Sows: Tennessee Legislature Passes Bill Banning ‘All Comers’ Policy

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Vanderbilt's assault on religious liberty on campus looks like it's headed for a crushing, if utterly predictable, defeat. Last night, the Tennessee legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that would ban Tennessee's public universities as well as any private university that gets more than $24 million in funding a year (there's only one: Vanderbilt!) from telling religious student groups that they can't have belief-based requirements for membership or leadership. Interestingly, the legislature did give Vanderbilt an out: If it's willing to apply an "all comers" policy to fraternities, sororities, and all other groups as well, it can keep its "all comers" policy for religious groups. (Vanderbilt has exempted its powerful fraternities and sororities from its inaccurately named "all comers" policy.) Former FIRE President David French, writing in The Corner, lays out the background:

It is difficult to fully describe the mendacity and bad faith of senior Vanderbilt officials throughout this process. University officials claimed that they were merely enforcing an old policy — yet they've been confronted with irrefutable evidence of written policy changes that removed protections for religious groups. They compared Christian students seeking Christian leadership for their groups to segregationists. According to multiple sources, they falsely ...

Choose Privacy Week 2012: The Perils of Social Reading

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

By Neil Richards
Professor of Law
Washington University School of Law

Sharing, we are told, is cool. At the urging of Facebook and Netflix, the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to “update” an obscure 1988 law known as the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”). Facebook and Netflix wanted to modernize this law from the VHS era, because its protection of video store records stood in the way of sharing movie recommendations among friends online. The law would have allowed companies to obtain a single consent to automatically share all movies viewed on Facebook and other social networks forever. The bill stalled in the Senate after a feisty hearing before Senator Franken, though some modernization of our video privacy law is inevitable.

But the VPPA debate is just the start; merely one part of a much larger trend towards “social reading.” The Internet and social media have opened up new vistas for us to share our preferences in films, books, and music. Services like Spotify and the Washington Post Social Reader already integrate our reading and listening into social networks, providing what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “frictionless sharing.” Under a regime of frictionless sharing, we don’t need to ...

Speech Code of the Month: Framingham State University

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for May 2012: Framingham State University. This public university has a student policy on "Freedom of Expression" which provides that

Recognized student clubs or organizations desiring to sponsor a religious display must consider the following: such displays may not promote or hinder one religion over another, must be secular in purpose, and may not intertwine University affairs with religious promotion.

This policy confuses the university's institutional obligation not to promote religion with the expressive rights of individual students and student groups, in a way that completely ignores binding Supreme Court precedent and unconstitutionally limits religious liberty on campus. 

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids governmental entities (including state universities) from making any "law respecting an establishment of religion." In Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), the Supreme Court set forth a three-part test—now commonly referred to as the "Lemon test"—for determining if a law or regulation violates the Establishment Clause:

First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster ‘an excessive government entanglement with ...

FIRE Speaker at Miss. State Conference This Week

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

This Thursday, FIRE's Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, Will Creeley, will be one of the featured speakers at a Legal Issues Conference to be held at Mississippi State University. The conference, co-sponsored by Mississippi State University, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), and the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM), will discuss the Office for Civil Rights' new guidelines regarding Title IX and campus responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Mississippi State University Legal Issues Conference
Featuring Will Creeley
May 3, 2012
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Due Process and Free Speech
2:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Facebook vs. the First Amendment: Student Speech in the Digital Age
http://students.msstate.edu/clic/

All FIRE supporters who plan to attend the conference, be sure to say hello to Will! 

FIRE staff members speak about free speech and due process issues in higher education at dozens of schools, conferences, and events across the country each year. To request a FIRE speaker, visit the FIRE Speakers Bureau page or email jaclyn@thefire.org.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Joins Letter Opposing Censorship of Mexican American Studies

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Our joint letter opposing the massive censorship of Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District has a new signer: the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

The letter was launched in late Janurary and has now attracted well over 30 national and regional organizations dedicated to education and free speech.


CPW2012: “Libraries may be our society’s best bet in resisting government intrusions into privacy.”

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

by George Christian
Guest Blogger

Six years ago, three of my board members and I had the relief of having a perpetual gag order lifted in Federal Court. Our organization, a consortium of 27 libraries, had been served with a National Security Letter seeking library records.

National Security Letters are subpoena-like instruments modified in 2001 by the USA PATRIOT Act to allow the FBI to issue them without judicial review (no need to establish probable cause). They are accompanied by perpetual gag orders that forbid recipients from acknowledging they were even visited by the FBI, let alone that they were asked for information or provided that information.

My board members and I sued the Attorney General to have our gag order lifted and the request for information without judicial review declared unconstitutional. Our legal struggle took ten long months, an effort we could only sustain because of free representation by the American Civil Liberties Union with support from the American Library Association.

While we were gagged, Congress renewed the Orwellian named PATRIOT Act without our being able to contest the Attorney General’s repeated reassurances that the law had not been and never would be used against libraries.

After a Federal ...

EFF Asks FCC to Forbid Cell Phone Shutdowns in Wake of 2011 BART Incident

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

On Monday, EFF, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy and Technology asked the FCC to formally rule that the federal government will not—and that state and local governments cannot—interrupt wireless services as a matter of policy.

In the wake of the infamous Bay Area Transit Authority (BART) shutdown of cell phone service during a protest in August of last year, the FCC opened a notice of inquiry on the issue and asked for public comment last month. Since the incident in August, BART has issued its own cell phone shutdown policy, which EFF has criticized as still allowing shutdowns in situations clearly protected by the First Amendment.

As EFF said at the time, the actions of the BART authorities in August were more akin to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak than that of a government mandated by the Constitution to respect the free speech of its citizens. The First Amendment clearly prevents the government from censoring communications in only the most narrow of categories: by demonstrating “a direct, immediate, and irreparable harm to the Nation or its people.” Absent that, any wireless service interruption will inevitably restrain many innocent Americans ability to communicate and endanger free ...

Time to Make Warrantless Home Video Surveillance Extinct

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

It seems that the government's thirst for high tech surveillance can't be quenched. First, came the NSA's warrantless wiretap program. Then it was CISPA. Now, its warrantless video surveillance in the home. And just like we stood up against the NSA and CISPA, yesterday we told the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that invasive warrantless home video surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment.

Ricky Wahchumwah, a tribal member of the Yakima Nation, was suspected of selling bald and gold eagle feathers, as well as the feathers and pelts of other migratory birds, in violation of federal law. As part of its investigation, a undercover agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went to Wahchumwah's house, pretending to be interested in buying feathers and pelts. Wahchumwah let him in his house, not knowing that the agent was secretly recording everything with a tiny video camera hidden in his clothes. The agent proceeded to capture two hours of video of Wachumwah's home, including interactions between Wachumwah and his partner and children, and was even left alone by Wachumwah for periods of time, who did not suspect he was being recorded.

Charged with violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and ...

Hollywood’s Trolls

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Our movie industry has created some memorable monsters on screen. But Hollywood, and the major music labels, also helped create a very real kind of monster - copyright trolls who coerce settlements from Internet subscribers using intimidation and our out-of-whack copyright laws. Last Friday, EFF Senior Staff Technologist Seth Schoen took the witness stand in AF Holdings v. Does to explain to a federal judge why BitTorrent users should be able to hold on to their constitutional rights when targeted by trolls. Although some courts have put the brakes on the trolls' schemes, there's no Hollywood ending in sight yet.  As the entertainment industries continue to push for ever-stronger copyright through treaties, private agreements, Congress and state legislatures, it's time to ask - how will Hollywood help protect us from the trolls?

The current crop of copyright trolls sue anywhere from 20 to 5,000 "John Doe" defendants in a single lawsuit, pinned to a list of Internet Protocol addresses that they claim to have seen downloading copyrighted movies using BitTorrent. Then, with the courts' permission, they send subpoenas to Internet service providers for the names and addresses of subscribers.  The trolls then send threatening letters, demanding settlement payments to "make ...

Ban of Dirty Bastard Beer Sets Uncomfortable Precedent

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

In April, the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board banned the sale of Dirty Bastard beer statewide because of the language used on the beer’s label. Beer and wine are common commodities on Alabama store shelves, and the beer was banned because of concerns over children seeing the language used on the label. The ban, while not applied to all consumer products, sets an uncomfortable and dangerous precedent with regard to the display of merchandise in Alabama.

The ban on Dirty Bastard beer was passed despite previous approvals for the sale of a wine called Fat Bastard and another beer called Raging Bitch. The approval of these products was reviewed at the time Dirty Bastard was banned, but the board decided not to take action.

David Hudson, a First Amendment scholar writing for the First Amendment Center, reviewed the ban and its implications, writing:

The board’s contention was that minors needed to be protected from profanity. But from a First Amendment perspective, that’s a poor decision.

First of all, as the Associated Press reported, a wine called Fat Bastard is already available in the state. To allow Fat Bastard and disallow Dirty Bastard seems irrational, nonsensical and ...

KFC: Kentucky Foolish Censorship

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

"Forget about fraternity rush, spring break, and cramming for exams," FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley writes this week in The Daily Caller. "The students and faculty of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) have brought a disturbing new tradition to campus: justifying the destruction of pro-life displays as 'freedom of speech.'"

Robert notes that since at least 2006, pro-life student organization Northern Right to Life has had its public displays vandalized by vigilante censors. In 2006, a professor actually encouraged her students to express their views against the display by becoming destructive vandals. This year, a student followed suit after he was caught tearing down the display, declaring that this vandalism "was expressing our right to free speech."

But as Robert notes: "responding to speech through physical violence, against either people or objects, is a criminal act with no constitutional protection."

That should be obvious. Destroying someone else's display, blocking access to others' speech, or substantially disrupting a speech is not protected, yet somehow people persist in making the foolish claim that vigilante censorship is protected from punishment.

Victory: Rutgers Will Not Punish Satirical Newspaper

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

On Friday, I blogged about Rutgers University's bias investigation of the student satire publication The Medium for jokingly attributing a fake article praising Adolf Hitler to another student. As we made clear in the letter we sent Rutgers, punishing the protected expression of The Medium—or even allowing the impression to take hold that such expression was punishable—would be an impermissible violation of the paper's First Amendment rights. 

Hardly had my entry gone live on our website, however, when FIRE received a response from Rutgers Assistant General Counsel Sarah Luke, responding in relevant part:

The university very scrupulously addresses First Amendment issues like the one you have highlighted, and students are not punished for exercising their right to free speech, including speech in student publications. 

After chilling free speech at Rutgers for the past three weeks, this is a welcome affirmation of the free speech rights of The Medium, and of all student media at Rutgers. Luke then continues:

Instead, Rutgers is working hard with all the various members of the university community to promote a robust exchange of divergent ideas and to safeguard the right of Rutgers students to enjoy an educational environment free from unlawful discrimination ...

Austrian Activists Push Back Against EU Data Retention Directive

Monday, April 30th, 2012

No sooner did a mandatory data retention law go into effect in Austria this month than thousands of Austrians banded together in a swift opposition campaign to overturn it. The Austrian law originated as the misshapen offspring of the 2006 European Data Retention Directive. Led by AK Vorrat Austria, a working group against mandatory data retention, the pushback against this mass-surveillance law demonstrates that opposition remains alive and well six years after the European Union adopted the infamous Directive.

The  Austrian data retention law compels all ISPs and telcos operating in Austria to retain everyone's incoming and outgoing phone numbers, IP addresses, location data, and other key telecom and Internet traffic data. The information is collected for all citizens, rather than just those suspected criminal activity. In many cases, the data is handed over to law enforcement. 

Austrian activists took advantage of a two-year delay of the implementation of this ill-conceived Directive in their country by mapping out their opposition strategy in advance. They sought to leverage a two tier strategy to beat back the Data Retention Directive at the European level, and to fight against the  Austrian data retention law at the national level.

One ...

Thanks, redditors and Friends!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

EFF gives a heartfelt thank you to the reddit community, which just raised over $7,500 for digital rights! Yesterday, a commenter on reddit politics asked "Why don't we form an Internet Freedom Association like the NRA has for firearms?" observing that "[t]hose in power know and have witnessed the populist organizing power the internet can have which is why they are in a rush to try to take control of it." Precisely. An astute redditor commented that the Electronic Frontier Foundation fights privacy threats like CISPA each day and the public should donate to support the cause. As a result, EFF received over 200 separate donations over the past 24 hours!

EFF is working hard to expose the dangers of upcoming "cybersecurity" bills and mobilize the public through advocacy campaigns to make Congress protect our civil liberties. We're also strengthening Constitutional protections in electronic search cases, asking for meaningful corporate responsibility, exposing international policies threatening online rights, and so much more.

We're making great progress so let's keep the pressure on! If you haven't taken a moment to become an EFF member this year, please do it today. EFF has been the voice of reason ...

Tucson School District Blocks Renowned Chicana Author’s Visit

Monday, April 30th, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

Since ending the acclaimed Mexican American Studies program, the Tucson Independent School District has done little to ameliorate the outcry about censorship that has arisen in response. TUSD’s latest move is unlikely to help them win any friends: the school district recently rejected an offer to read from award-winning author Ana Castillo. Castillo offered to read at schools throughout Tucson free of charge and to pay for her own travel in an effort to help the community heal from the rift that resulted from the school board’s decision to end the MAS program and remove books from classrooms.

Jeff Biggers wrote about this latest development for the Huffington Post, comparing Castillo’s treatment to that of Matt de la Peña, another author who recently read at Tucson High School. Biggers’s article reveals that some students and educators feel as though the classroom atmosphere has been poisoned by the censorship of the MAS program:

According to Tucson High School literature teacher Curtis Acosta, whose now outlawed Mexican American literature courses drew praise on CNN for their healing role in the aftermath of the tragic Tucson shooting last year, TUSD Assistant Superintendent Abel Morado turned down Castillo’s extraordinary ...

Sixth Circuit Issues Speech-Friendly Decision in Favor of Campus Preacher

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an excellent decision (.PDF) supporting freedom of speech on university campuses. 

In the case, McGlone v. Bell, No. 10-6055, the Sixth Circuit reversed a decision of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in which the lower court had dismissed a facial and as-applied First Amendment challenge to a policy at Tennessee Technical University (TTU). The challenge was brought by John McGlone, an evangelical, Protestant Christian who speaks on college campuses about his faith. 

In early 2009, McGlone contacted the TTU administration to determine where and how he might speak on the campus. TTU at first attempted to relegate McGlone to a small, desolate area of campus, but when pressed demanded that he follow the TTU policy of applying for a speech permit a lengthy fourteen days in advance. McGlone then decided to speak off campus, but because TTU is an urban campus indistinguishable from the surrounding city, he ended up on the very edges of campus property, and was asked to leave. Rather than comply with TTU's onerous application requirement, McGlone sued in federal court, alleging that the restrictions violated the ...