Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Police Who Illegally Broke Into Gizmodo Journalist’s House Deride Seized E-mails as "Juvenile"

Friday, October 14th, 2011

The saga of the lost iPhone prototype -- the 2010 incident at least, not the most recent one -- has finally concluded. On Tuesday, Brian Hogan (who allegedly found the iPhone 4 prototype in a Redwood City bar) and Sage Wallower (who allegedly helped Hogan contact various web sites about the find) pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft and were sentenced to probation, 40 hours of community service, and $250 each in restitution payments to Apple.

As part of the criminal investigation surrounding the incident last year, agents with the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a "partnership of 17 local, state, and federal agencies" focused on computer-related crime in the Bay Area, executed a warrant and raided the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, searching for evidence related to Gizmodo's scoop about the lost phone. As we repeatedly pointed out at the time, regardless of whether Chen or Gizmodo could have been charged with any crime related to obtaining and discussing the phone, state and federal law plainly barred the issuance and execution of the search warrant directed at journalist-held information "obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public." ...

UK Enacts Filtering for Porn, Gambling, and Other Content.

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Just three months ago, we at EFF expressed our disappointment with Australia's two largest Internet service providers (ISPs), Telstra and Optus, for agreeing to implement a filtering scheme after a filtering bill from the Australian government failed to pass.

The blocked sites were to include "the appropriate subsection of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist as well as child abuse URLs that are provided by reputable international organisations," according to News.com.au. Now, in conjunction with the Christian organization Mothers' Union, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has decided to take similar measures, enacting a plan with four of Britain's major ISPs—BT, TalkTalk, Virgin, and Sky—to block access to pornography, gambling, self-harm, and other blacklisted websites. The "good news" is that the filtering isn't mandatory: New customers will be required to select between a filtered and unfiltered connection, while existing customers will be offered the same choice via email. The bad news, on the other hand, is extensive.

First, the plan lacks transparency. The blocked categories are vague in nature, and the list's origins unknown. Not only do the categories contain legal content in some cases, but there is significant room for overblocking. For example, one filtering ...

Commentary: Permit Rules Can Discourage What Should Be Lawful Protest

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

When we evaluate government’s efforts to regulate speech in public places, we usually start with whether the government is inappropriately favoring one message over another.

As the recent decision in Marcavage v. City of Chicago demonstrates, however, equally important is whether the government is imposing permit requirements that discourage certain speakers.

In Marcavage, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals chose not to adopt the bright-line approach suggested by other federal appellate courts and held instead that small groups wishing to engage in expressive activity could in some cases be required to obtain a permit first.

Although the appellate court on Oct. 4 reversed a trial-court holding that the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority in Chicago could require a group of five people to obtain a permit before demonstrating in  the city’s Gateway Park, it refused to reverse that holding outright. Instead, it remanded the case to the trial court to give the MPEA a chance to defend its permit requirement.

Read Douglas Lee’s complete commentary at Firstamendmentcenter.org

‘Firefly’ Poster Censorship Update

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The University of Wisconsin–Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, which confiscated two posters that Professor James Miller had posted outside his office door last month, has finally returned the posters to him.

In case you missed it, Miller was reported to the "threat assessment team" and threatened with criminal charges because of the two satirical postings. One of them depicted actor Nathan Fillion's character in the television series Firefly and a quotation from the character, and the other stated, "Warning: Fascism." Click on the links in the first paragraph to see what the folks at UW-Stout supposedly thought was so dangerous.

After a huge public outcry and UW-Stout's initial attempts to defend its totally indefensible and absurd actions, the university backed down and promised to hold free speech forums on campus. The first one is scheduled for today. Here's the announcement:

The "Firefly" poster incident at Stout became local, national even international news. At play were complex, conflicting values of freedom of expression and speech and a campus commitment to safety and inclusion.

To help the campus and Menomonie community share thoughts and to understand this incident and the larger issues of academic freedom in a campus environment, the Center for Applied Ethics will host ...

FIRE Wins 2011 Templeton Freedom Award for Student Outreach

Thursday, October 13th, 2011
Yesterday, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation announced that FIRE was a winner of the 2011 Templeton Freedom Award for Student Outreach. We are honored to once again be recognized as one of the best organizations for advancing the understanding of freedom, and we would like to thank the Atlas and Templeton foundations for this distinction. The award grants $10,000 to FIRE's Individual Rights Education Program for its impressive work improving education about freedom on campus.

FIRE's Individual Rights Education Program has done outstanding work, including distributing more than 280,000 print and electronic copies of FIRE's Guides to Student Rights on Campus, sending FIRE representatives to speak at hundreds of campuses across the country, and educating high school students through a "know before you go" initiative. We would like to thank our dedicated staff and generous supporters for making this award possible!

Video of Student Banned from Campus for Facebook Post on WCNC, Charlotte

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Late last night, NewsChannel 36 in Charlotte, N.C. (WCNC) filmed Catawba Valley Community College student Marc Bechtol, who was banned from campus for taking to Facebook to protest CVCC's deal with a debit card company. The video spot illuminates the satirical intent of Bechtol's Facebook comment, and the absurdity of CVCC's actions.

If you haven't yet, you can write to CVCC President Garrett D. Hinshaw today and ask CVCC to uphold its obligation to protect free speech today.

Tsang’s Speech Draws Ire

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Hong Kong chief vows to confront housing problems.

WVTF Radio IQ Story on former Center Director Robert M. O’Neil

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The following story on recently retired Thomas Jefferson Center director Robert O’Neil was broadcast today on NPR affiliate WVTF-Radio IQ: -

He was a graduate of Harvard Law School and President of the University of Virginia before beginning two decades of work in defense of the First Amendment.

Now, Bob O’Neil has retired, and Charlottesville is planning a unique event to say thanks.  Bob O’Neil grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of a faculty member at Harvard. He got undergraduate and law degrees there, before taking academic jobs in California, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and the University of Virginia, where he served as president.  His assistant, Sandy Gillem, remembers the day O’Neil was officially selected.

“There’s a secret organization at the university called the Society of the Purple Shadows.  It’s a benevolent group. They will appear at some gathering, dressed in purple robes with a mask or a veil, and they will extend silently whatever it is they’re bringing, and I remember the day that the board elected Bob O’Neil as president. Bob was in the middle of his remarks when the shadows appeared, and what they were doing was bringing him a letter welcoming him to the university, but ...

Governor Brown Vetoes Warrant Protection for Cell Phones

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

For the past six months, EFF has strongly supported SB 914, a bill recently passed by the California state legislature that would require police officers to get a warrant before searching through an arrested suspect’s cell phone.

Last month, the bill received overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans, passing the California State Assembly 70-0 and then the State Senate, 32-4. Despite such strong bipartisan support, Governor Brown disappointingly vetoed the bill (PDF) yesterday.

SB 914, written in response to the California Supreme Court decision in People v. Diaz, upheld basic constitutional principles. It just maintained Fourth Amendment protection to the contents of cell phones, requiring officers to show a judge there is probable cause that the phone has evidence of a crime before it is searched incident to arrest.

The bill was strongly opposed by law enforcement groups, yet SB 914’s effect on the police’s ability to do its job would be almost non-existent. As we pointed out in May, “cell phones pose no danger to the police, the threat of destruction of evidence can be easily remedied through simple preservation methods, and many arrests do not result in criminal prosecution at all.”

Privacy rights, however, will ...

Constitutionality of Facebook Threat Charges Challenged

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

A Pennsylvania man who was indicted for making violent threats on Facebook is now challenging the constitutionality of the federal cyberstalking statute, arguing that the law criminalizes “pure speech” and is vague and overbroad.

In the indictment, Anthony Elonis, 27, is charged with making a series of threats in his Facebook postings after he was fired from his job at a theme park.

Prosecutors say Elonis made threats to injure his former co-workers at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, as well as his ex-wife, an FBI agent and employees of the Pennsylvania State Police and the Berks County Sheriff’s Office.

But Elonis’ lawyer argues that the postings cannot be considered true threats because they were read only by Elonis’ Facebook “friends,” were often in the form of verse and lacked any specifics about dates, times or places for his alleged plans of committing violent acts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Stephan is expected to file a response to the motion this week and could not be reached for comment Friday.

Read the rest of the story at Law.com

Keep the Pressure On: Oppose Canada’s Fishy “Lawful Access” Bill

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Co-authored by Annie Harrison

Canada is a popular destination for those who like to fish, but the Canadian government is attempting to spark what may be the country’s largest-ever fishing expedition into its citizens’ private online data.

Supporters of Canada’s “lawful access” legislation were foiled on September 20th when they were pressured to withdraw proposed warrantless digital surveillance measures from an omnibus crime bill. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, Canadian Justice officials say they are “committed to reintroducing” the bills. We must halt this assault on civil liberties in Canada.

The legislative proposals, expected to reincarnate former bills C-50, C-51 and C-52, would allow Canadian authorities to force Internet service providers to disclose private customer data without a warrant.  This information included the name, address, phone number, IP address, email address, and other records about subscribers that could provide a detailed profile of online activity. In past iterations, the cluster of bills that make up “lawful access” also mandated surveillance technologies for Internet service providers, broadened police powers, and gave online service providers carte blanche immunity to spy on their customers on behalf of the police.

These measures would give authorities backdoors through ...

Monks Nursing Burns At Hospitals

Thursday, October 6th, 2011
One Tibetan monk has a serious head injury from beatings by security forces.

Voicing an Opinion: Manga Bookshelf’s Melinda Beasi Talks Canada Customs Case

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

When I was in junior high, my English class was assigned to read George Orwell’s 1984. It was a pretty engaging read, but despite our teacher’s best efforts, it was difficult for most of us to take its deeper messages seriously. Big Brother and the Thought Police were terrifying for sure, but no more so than the likes of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. They were fantasy villains from our point of view, impossibly removed from our real lives, where we were forced into daily battle with the true horrors of Midwest adolescence — teenage classism, 80s fashion, and our own deep self-loathing.

Now, as a 40-something in the 21st century, Orwell’s warnings are both utterly preposterous and terrifyingly real. It seems outrageous to imagine that in an age when civil liberty is so loudly trumpeted and treasured that a person could be arrested, imprisoned, and legally stigmatized for life because of his or her thoughts. Yet cases such as that of Brandon X prove this to be not only possible — but even likely — if those thoughts are being expressed and shared with others in the form of comics.

I was asked to contemplate what this means ...

Professor Takes Box Cutter to Students’ Free Speech Wall at Sam Houston State University; Police Threaten Students with Charges over Profanity about President Obama

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Two weeks ago, a professor at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) vandalized a "free speech wall" promoted by four student organizations because he was offended by a message that read "FUCK OBAMA." When campus police arrived, an officer demanded that the students censor the wall or else face criminal charges for having offended the professor.

FIRE had hoped that SHSU would quickly remedy the injustice. SHSU informed FIRE that the incident was "under investigation," and later expressed regret over the professor's "overreaction" (which puts it lightly), but SHSU so far has failed to address the chilling response by its police department to SHSU students' exercise of free speech.

Declamations concerning our national leaders are nothing new on college campuses; unfortunately, neither is their prosecution by college authorities. At Colorado State University in 2007, for example, administrators investigated and admonished the editor of the college's newspaper for running an editorial which read in its entirety, "Taser this...FUCK BUSH." FIRE was among the organizations condemning the university's unconstitutional investigation. Hindsight being 20/20, of course, it might have been helpful to send a copy to SHSU for its files.

Here's how events unfolded at SHSU: In September, students learned about a new ...

Chen Campaigners Detained

Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Chinese authorities detain supporters of a rights lawyer under house arrest.

EU Parliament Takes the First Step to Prevent Sales of Surveillance Equipment Used to Violate Human Rights

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

The European Parliament today formally recognized what has become increasingly clear: some European tech companies have been selling to repressive governments the tools used to surveil democracy activists. In response, it passed a resolution to bar overseas sales of systems that monitor phone calls and text messages, or provide targeted Internet surveillance, if they are used to violate democratic principles, human rights or freedom of speech.

According to Bloomberg, the decision came after a Bloomberg report in August that "a monitoring system sold and maintained by European companies had generated text-message transcripts used in the interrogation of a human-rights activist tortured in Bahrain." The legislation reportedly leaves enforcement to the EU’s 27 member nations.

But European companies aren't the only ones. Recently Narus, a Boeing subsidiary based in Silicon Valley, was revealed to have sold to Egypt sophisticated equipment used for surveillance. (Note: EFF watchers will recognize Narus as one of the companies whose equipment is in AT&T “secret room” used to help the NSA conduct warrantless surveillance in the U.S. at the heart of our Jewel and Hepting cases).

And it's not just a problem in the Middle East. Cisco Systems is facing litigation in both Maryland ...

Montana State University Passes New Policy Expanding Areas for Free Speech on Campus

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Students at Montana State University - Bozeman (MSU) will now enjoy a much-improved right to engage in free speech and expressive activity on their campus. That's because, as reported by the MSU student newspaper The Exponent, the Montana State University Council has passed a revised version of MSU's Freedom of Expression Policy that appears to greatly expand the availability of campus space for speech activity.

According to the Exponent article,

Previously, free speech zones on campus were only located in front of Montana Hall, in front of Bobcat Stadium and on the sidewalk areas near the fieldhouse entrances. However, the new policy establishes any outdoor area on campus as a free speech zone, provided participants are at least 50 feet from campus buildings.

[...]

The policy states that MSU will accommodate for [sic] First Amendment free speech rights. These rights include the ability to participate in activities such as "assembling, demonstrating, signing and political campaigning," among others.

These strike me as very solid improvements: The university is essentially going from maintaining a few, enumerated free speech zones to making any outdoor area of campus available for free speech and expressive activity, with the exception of areas within 50 feet ...

State Chapter Intellectual Freedom Report: Iowa

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Periodically, the OIF Blog will be featuring a profile of the intellectual freedom activities from ALA’s state chapters. Our second featured state is Iowa. The entire series can be found here.

The Iowa Library Association asserts that a democracy will only flourish if its citizens have free access to information necessary to form solid opinions and to make informed decisions on issues affecting their lives. Thus, the ILA supports the principles of open access to such information no matter the medium in which it exists and without regard for the economic, political, and social conditions of those who seek such access.

Those statements made by the ILA are the focus of the work of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Iowa Library Association.  Our committee of eight meets in November to plan activities for the coming year and to look for sessions to offer at the next ILA conference.  The main activity of our committee is to be a resource for any library facing a challenge.  We make sure to have representation on the committee from various types of libraries so we can give advice from the perspective of that type of library.  Our state website has ...

Safeconnect, Universities, P2P, Network Security and Risk: The Tangled World of "Policy Enforcement" on Other People’s Computers

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

By Cindy Cohn and Seth Schoen

After months of work, and spurred by an initial report by Professor Ted Byfield of New School University's Parsons New School for Design, we’re happy to report a security vulnerability fix in a product called Safe•Connect.

While the immediate story is good, the underlying context should raise real concerns about the dangers inherent in the ongoing obsession of Congress and the content industry with pressuring intermediaries, especially universities, to use their status as network operators to require individuals to install monitoring software like Safe•Connect on their computers in order to appease the content industry. As Stewart Baker, then the Department of Homeland Security’s policy czar warned during a similar incident involving the Sony Rootkit: "It’s very important to remember that it’s your intellectual property — it’s not your computer. And in the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it’s important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days."

Background

Network administrators have been interested for years in software meant to enforce rules on other people's computers connected to a network – a technology called Network Access Control (NAC). NAC software runs as an agent ...

Chinese Netizens Mourn Jobs

Thursday, October 6th, 2011
The passing of a technology visionary prompts an outpouring of emotion from China's Internet users.

Courts Call Out Copyright Trolls’ Coercive Business Model, Threaten Sanctions

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

A Virginia district court is the latest to call out a copyright troll for using a business model designed to be little more than a shakedown operation to extract quick and easy settlements from hundreds of thousands of John Doe defendants. Judge Gibney says it far better than we could:

The Court currently has three similar cases before it, all brought by the same attorney. The suits are virtually identical in their terms, but filed on behalf of different film production companies. In all three, the plaintiffs sought, and the Court granted, expedited discovery allowing the plaintiffs to subpoena information from ISPs to identify the Doe defendants. According to some of the defendants, the plaintiffs then contacted the John Does, alerting them to this lawsuit and their potential liability. Some defendants have indicated that the plaintiff has contacted them directly with harassing telephone calls, demanding $2,900 in compensation to end the litigation. When any of the defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or sever themselves from the litigation, however, the plaintiffs have immediately voluntarily dismissed them as parties to prevent the defendants from bringing their motions before the Court for resolution.

This course of conduct indicates that the plaintiffs ...

Party Like It’s 1986 – Demand Privacy Like It’s 2011

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

In 1986, Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus topped the charts, Madonna dedicated her hit single Papa Don’t Preach to Pope John Paul II, and a ruffle-clad David Bowie crooned along with funky Muppet goblins in Labyrinth. Meanwhile, although the World Wide Web didn’t even exist yet and cell phones were an expensive rarity, Congress was working on a new law to better protect our digital privacy by regulating when the government could access our private communications. That law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was signed on October 21, 1986.

Streaming music + ECPA reform party = epic win

Here’s a mix of hot tunes from 1986 to help you get in the mood for updating weak 80s-era privacy law:
1986 New Wave/Alternative Mix

After 25 years, ECPA is in dire need of an upgrade to reflect changing technology and ensure that the government can’t read our emails, track our cell phones, or watch where we go on the Web without first going to court and getting a search warrant. To help support the effort to reform ECPA, and in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of ECPA’s signing, EFF is joining Google, CDT, ACLU, CEI, TechFreedom, CCIA, and Americans for ...

SPLC Sues after Kansas College Demands $24,000 in Public Records Fees

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

After multiple open records requests by the Johnson County Community College (JCCC) newspaper The Campus Ledger and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), the SPLC, along with one of the Campus Ledger's former editors, is suing JCCC over the outlandish fees charged by the college to comply with the request.

As the SPLC reported yesterday, "The college estimated a total of $24,130.72 to fulfill requests by the SPLC and former copy editor Marcus Clem for staff emails and documents related to other open records requests." I'm aware that complying with public records requests can be costly and inconvenient, and there is a reasonable extent to which the costs of compliance can be borne by the petitioner, but I sure do look forward to seeing JCCC justify itself here. According to this document provided to SPLC in response to one of its requests, JCCC estimated costs of $9,745.96 to retrieve a single day's worth of emails between two JCCC administrators. SPLC writes, "Contributing to that figure is $5,250 to contract an outside agency for 25 hours of work at $210 per hour." (Unrelated note-who is this outside agency, and are they hiring?)

I joked via Twitter to the SPLC's Adam ...

Power Struggle Delays Prisoner Release

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
The release of political prisoners is delayed due to opposition from hardliners led by former junta strongman Than Shwe.

‘Hot Air’ and ‘Firefly’ Actors Praise FIRE

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Since FIRE's recent victory at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the Internet has been abuzz with news of our success. Some of the praise comes from Firefly actors Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, who were instrumental in getting the word out about the censorship of Professor James Miller's posters and pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of UW-Stout's administration.

Fillion and Baldwin are both featured today in a post about the case by Ed Morrissey on Hot Air. Baldwin's reaction to the case:

I am heartened and encouraged by the outpouring of support from the "Firefly/Serenity" community. It remains a tragic multi-generational crime that Leftism's educational malpractices have so perverted our nation's educational system that it becomes necessary for an American university to convene training seminars on the First Amendment. God bless FIRE and free thinkers everywhere for shining their lights.

And Fillion's reaction:

There are times we must try hard to find meaning. I understand that. I don't understand when we try hard to find malice.

Head to Hot Air for the whole post about FIRE's victory at UW-Stout.

Officials Block Parents’ Questions

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Chinese authorities duck questions on lead-poisoned children.

For All You Firefly Fans Out There

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

For those FIRE fans who are also Firefly fans (as we recently found out, the two groups include many of the same members), we thought you might enjoy the first graphic I jokingly made to celebrate UW-Stout's decision to back down from its censorship of Professor James Miller's Firefly and anti-fascism posters (we used this one instead). If you're not a fan of the show, just skip on ahead to the next blog entry.


‘Chased With Guns’ on Chen Visit

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Chinese authorities thwart a second attempt by supporters to visit a rights lawyer under house arrest.

MediaBistro Plugs NCAC Readout Videos

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

MediaBistro’s GalleyCat blog posted a nice plug for the Banned Books Week Videos from our Readout Tent at the Brooklyn Book Festival. A few are below, and we’ll post more as they’re edited…why limit a good thing to one week? :)

 


Prison Should Have Let Inmate Send Manuscript, Judge Rules

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Prison officials in Northern California failed to convince a federal district court judge that they had legitimate reasons to refuse to allow an inmate to send out portions of his autobiography. In one of the few rulings to make the distinction between ingoing and outgoing prisoner mail, the court said there was a higher First Amendment-based standard for protecting outgoing prisoner mail as opposed to incoming.

Lonnie Donell Perkins sued in federal court after California Department of Corrections officials and officials at Pelican Bay State Prison refused to allow Perkins to mail selections from his autobiography, presumably to a publisher, though court records don’t say. Prison officials claimed the work included accounts of gang-related incidents in prison and could cause security concerns. One of the prison officials declared that the manuscript described gang activity that Perkins had been involved in, which related to other inmates and victims that occurred during his incarceration.” The official also declared that a prospective book could “be used to further the promotion of gang activity.”

However, prison officials and their attorneys made a critical mistake in the litigation. They failed to introduce a copy of the manuscript. According to U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ...

Greg on HotAir TV’s ‘Ed Morrissey Show’ on Victory at UW-Stout

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will discuss FIRE's victory at the University of Wisconsin-Stout this afternoon on HotAir TV's Ed Morrissey Show  at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Watch the show live online here.

   

Greg on HotAir TV’s ‘Ed Morrissey Show’ on Victory at UW-Stout

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will discuss FIRE's victory at the University of Wisconsin-Stout this afternoon on HotAir TV's Ed Morrissey Show  at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Watch the show live online here.

   

Charles Brownstein Talks Comics Code Authority Seal

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Last week, CBLDF announced it had acquired the rights to the Comics Code Authority Seal, marking the end of the censorship the seal once represented. After the announcement, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein spoke with Vaneta Rogers at Newsarama about the acquisition.

Several reports mistakenly indicated that CBLDF purchased the rights to the seal, a misconception Brownstein cleared up when Rogers asked him about the acquisition:

“As the Comic Magazine Association of America, was winding down they approached us to inquire whether we would be interested in receiving the Seal of Approval,” Brownstein told Newsarama. “Through a brief, and fairly straightforward process, they assigned us the rights to the Seal for use as part of our fundraising and education program. It was a donation from the industry’s dying self-censorship body to assist its mature First Amendment defense body.”

Rogers also described the conflicted nature of the seal, indicating that the seal both saved comics and established the misconception that comics are only for children. She asked Brownstein for his take:

“I think it’s fair to say that the Code did save comics, but it did so by introducing a regime of censorship that put creators and publishers out of work, ...

‘Chased With Guns’ on Chen Visit

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Authorities thwart a second attempt by Chinese supporters to visit a rights lawyer under house arrest.

First Amendment Rodeo 9/13-10/4, 2011

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

A round-up of intellectual freedom issues in the news

Banned Books Week

Getting Banned: Writers on the World’s Oldest Solution

For Banned Books week, two reasons to ban ‘Brave New World’

Tammerlin Drummond: Banned books week promotes free speech

Banned Books, Steinbeck, and the American Community

Author of Banned Republic Book [Sarah Ockler] Speaks Out

Controversial author [Chris Crutcher] gives speech in honor of Banned Book Week

Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie Among Authors on Banned Book Lists

Local students shine spotlight on banned books

I Read My 5-Year-Old Banned Books & You Should, Too

Why My Book Being Banned Is A Privilege

Florida public library holds mock debate on banning books

‘Censored’ author [Lauren Myracle] visits Stark library to kick off Banned Books Week

Gadsden Public Library director ‘arrested’ as Banned Books Week activities begin

Sex, Profanity and Witchcraft: It’s Banned Book Week at the Library

Ten Books About Censorship For Kids & Teens

Page Turners: Charge up your video cameras for Banned Books Week

D’ARCONTE: No Huxley? No Hunger? Hello, nuts

Mentor Public Library Holding Sweet Contest to Commemorate Banned Book Week

Fanny Says: Book Bans Have No Place in a Democracy

Censorship/Book Banning

Congo campaigner asks Belgium to ...

Tibetan Monk Detained Again

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Chinese authorities refuse to say why he has been locked up.

Nobel Laureate Granted Family Visits

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Chinese authorities lift a ban on prison visits by a prominent dissident’s family members.

See a FIRE Speaker at Students For Liberty Conferences This Fall

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
This fall, we are pleased to announce that FIRE speakers will be featured at seven Students For Liberty (SFL) conferences across the country. On Saturday, October 8, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will address the SFL Philadelphia Conference at Drexel University. FIRE staffers will also speak at the North CarolinaAustinNew YorkNorthern California, and Pittsburgh conferences. In November, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be the keynote speaker at the Florida conference.

Throughout the year, FIRE staff members attend many conferences for students from across the political spectrum in order to spread the word about FIRE and our resources for students, especially the Campus Freedom Network. We are thrilled that SFL has invited us to address so many new students and discuss how to protect their rights on campus this fall. Registration is free, so any FIRE supporters interested in attending one of these conferences can sign up now at politicalconferences.org. If you decide to attend, be sure to stop by the FIRE table and say hello!    

See a FIRE Speaker at Students For Liberty Conferences This Fall

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
This fall, we are pleased to announce that FIRE speakers will be featured at seven Students For Liberty (SFL) conferences across the country. On Saturday, October 8, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will address the SFL Philadelphia Conference at Drexel University. FIRE staffers will also speak at the North CarolinaAustinNew YorkNorthern California, and Pittsburgh conferences. In November, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be the keynote speaker at the Florida conference.

Throughout the year, FIRE staff members attend many conferences for students from across the political spectrum in order to spread the word about FIRE and our resources for students, especially the Campus Freedom Network. We are thrilled that SFL has invited us to address so many new students and discuss how to protect their rights on campus this fall. Registration is free, so any FIRE supporters interested in attending one of these conferences can sign up now at politicalconferences.org. If you decide to attend, be sure to stop by the FIRE table and say hello!    

Are Words Chosen for Tombstones Protected Speech, or Can a Public Cemetery District Censor Them?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Our local public cemetery district has adopted a policy (which I objected too) of requiring that monument makers first submit to the cemetery district manager the verbiage and artwork for any new benches, monuments, or headstones to gain approval before the cutting or sand blasting of the monument can begin. I ran into this rule headlong today when I tried to order a memorial bench and was told by the monument maker that the cemetery district manager would have to first see the artwork and approve the verbiage I wanted before the monument maker could move forward with making the bench. Incredulous, I obtained a copy of the letter they sent out to the monument maker.

It reads as follows.

“To whom it may concern:

”Effective immediately, please fax a rough draft of all the drawings/artwork for any Memorial Marker being made for South Kern Cemetery District, for approval prior to blasting. Please provide a signature line for acceptance of rough draft.”

”We reserve the right to refuse any markers with questionable signs, wording, symbols, or pictures.”

This seems to me to:

1) violate my right to free speech,

2) to be so vague as to be unenforceable, and,

3) ...

In New Term, Supreme Court Shifts Focus to Crime and First Amendment

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The Supreme Court, which has been focused in recent terms on the rights of corporations and on curbing big lawsuits, returns to the bench on Monday with a different agenda. Now, criminal justice is at the heart of the court’s docket, along with major cases on free speech and religious freedom.

“The docket seems to be changing,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told reporters at a judicial conference in August.

“A lot of big civil cases are going to arbitration,” he said. “I don’t see as many of the big civil cases.”

Still, the shift in focus toward criminal and First Amendment cases will soon be obscured if, as expected, the justices agree to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law. That case promises to be a once-in-a-generation blockbuster.

In the meantime, the justices will hear an extraordinary set of cases that together amount to a project that could overhaul almost every part of the criminal justice system.

The court will decide whether the police need a warrant to use advanced technology to track suspects, whether jails may strip-search people arrested for even the most minor offenses, whether defendants have a right to competent lawyers to help them ...

Nobel Laureate Granted Family Visits

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Chinese authorities lift a ban on prison visits by a prominent dissident’s family members.

Victory at UW-Stout: Chancellor Folds after Censorship of ‘Firefly’ and Anti-Fascism Posters

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Under pressure from FIRE, national media, and actors Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, the University of Wisconsin-Stout (Stout) has reversed its censorship of theater professor James Miller's poster featuring a line from Fillion's character in Joss Whedon's television series Firefly. Campus police had threatened Miller with criminal disorderly conduct charges, and he was reported to the "threat assessment team." After Stout censored his second poster, which stated, "Warning: Fascism," Miller came to FIRE for help. Torch readers can learn more about Miller's case here.

Miller's troubles at Stout began on September 12, 2011, when he posted outside his office door an image of Fillion in Joss Whedon's sci-fi series Firefly and a line from an episode: "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed." On September 16, Stout Chief of Police Lisa A. Walter notified Miller that she had removed the poster because it "refer[s] to killing." After Miller replied, "respect my first amendment rights," Walter wrote that "the poster can be interpreted as a threat." Walter also threatened Miller with criminal charges of "disorderly conduct" if ...

Victory at UW-Stout: Chancellor Folds after Censorship of ‘Firefly’ and Anti-Fascism Posters

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Under pressure from FIRE, national media, and actors Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, the University of Wisconsin-Stout (Stout) has reversed its censorship of theater professor James Miller's poster featuring a line from Fillion's character in Joss Whedon's television series Firefly. Campus police had threatened Miller with criminal disorderly conduct charges, and he was reported to the "threat assessment team." After Stout censored his second poster, which stated, "Warning: Fascism," Miller came to FIRE for help. Torch readers can learn more about Miller's case here.

Miller's troubles at Stout began on September 12, 2011, when he posted outside his office door an image of Fillion in Joss Whedon's sci-fi series Firefly and a line from an episode: "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed." On September 16, Stout Chief of Police Lisa A. Walter notified Miller that she had removed the poster because it "refer[s] to killing." After Miller replied, "respect my first amendment rights," Walter wrote that "the poster can be interpreted as a threat." Walter also threatened Miller with criminal charges of "disorderly conduct" if ...

Frank Miller, Karen Berger & Babymouse Champion Free Speech In Be Counted Week 3

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011


The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund continues its Be Counted membership drive this week, with generous incentives from legendary cartoonist Frank Miller, groundbreaking editor Karen Berger, and the unstoppable team behind Babymouse & Squish - three time Newbery Award honoree Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm!

The CBLDF needs to raise $100,000 by October 31 to pay for its urgent legal and education to work. To date, the organization has raised over $30,000 of that goal. Be Counted and becoming a member of the Fund today. Membership contributions are tax deductible and start at $25 per year. Those who can afford to join at higher levels can take advantage of some of the amazing opportunities available in this campaign. To view all of the Be Counted incentives, featuring opportunities to go backstage at Saturday Night Live, have tea with Neil Gaiman or get your work reviewed by Tom Brevoort or Dan DiDio, among many others, please visit www.cbldf.org.

Here’s this week’s incredible offerings:

Frank Miller

Lunch With Legends: Frank Miller & Bob Schreck in NYC — One member joining CBLDF with a tax-deductible contribution of $5,000 or greater will have the opportunity to go to lunch with ...

Human Rights and Digital Freedom Groups Call for Release of Blogger

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Today, EFF joined nine human rights and digital freedom organizations from around the world in sending a letter to the government of Vietnam calling for the release of blogger and human rights defender Pham Minh Hoang.

Readers may remember Pham Minh Hoang from a https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/08/eff-calls-release-vietnamese-blogger-hoang">blog post we wrote in August. Mr. Hoang is a university professor with dual French and Vietnamese citizenship who has been sentenced to three years in prison and an additional three years under house arrest, for trying to "overthrow the government." His crime was exercising a right held dear by much of the world: using the Internet to speak out. EFF, the Committee to Protect Journalists, ARTICLE 19, Reporters without Borders, and the other rights organizations are calling for the Vietnamese government to recognize Mr. Hoang's rights to free expression and release him.

Concerned individuals should send their own letters to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the French Foreign Ministry, addresses below, to showcase the global outcry against this attack on online free speech.

Letter text:

October 4, 2011

Nguyen Tan Dung
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Office of the State
1 Bach Thao
Hanoi, Vietnam

CC:
French Foreign Ministry
Alain Juppé
Ministere des Affaires etrangeres
...

Adam Baldwin Fingers UW-Stout’s Censorship Double Standard at ‘Big Hollywood’

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

On Big Hollywood, actor Adam Baldwin has written an excellent piece about FIRE's case at the University of Wisconsin–Stout (UWS). It is getting hard to keep up with all of the press attention to the university's censorship of two posters by theater professor James Miller. After all, it's hard to believe that UWS would threaten a professor with criminal charges over his posters, report him to the university's "threat assessment team," and then tell the entire faculty and staff that UWS won't defend their First Amendment rights. But that's what UWS has done.

Baldwin, with co-writer "Liberty Chick" (Mandy Nagy), has called out UWS on its absurd violations of free speech. Baldwin has good reason to write; the first censored poster featured a picture and quote from Nathan Fillion's character on the TV series Firefly, on which Baldwin starred as Jayne Cobb, so he knows the full context of the quotation firsthand.

You actually don't need any special training to see that neither poster can reasonably be taken as any kind of threat:

Nevertheless, I recommend that you visit Big Hollywood for a video clip of the quotation in context. Baldwin writes: "The context of ...

Bard College Steps Up for Free Speech

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

It always feels great to be able to share good news about free speech on campus. So I am very happy to report that Bard College in New York has taken the commendable step of clarifying its student conduct policies to affirm that the college is committed to students' right to free speech and expression.

Until this year, Bard was listed as "not rated" in FIRE's Spotlight database, a designation reserved for private institutions that make clear that they place other values above the right to free speech. Bard's "Community Standards of Behavior" formerly provided that

Everyone who lives, works, or studies at Bard is here by choice and, as part of that choice, must be committed to standards of behavior that emphasize caring, civility, and a respect for the personal dignity of others. ... When language or other expression is used to harm, to demean, or to incite violence, it has breached the standard of civility in communication on this campus. Conduct that deliberately causes embarrassment, discomfort, or injury to other individuals or to the community, as a whole, is explicitly not allowed.

FIRE felt that because of this clear statement, students enrolling at Bard would understand that they ...

“I READ BANNED COMICS” t-shirt! Yellow on Black

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Brand New for 2011, this striking shirt was designed by Eisner Nominated letterer and designer Jared Fletcher. Wear it proudly, and show your support for free speech and the CBLDF!

Get yours now!

Another Self-Immolation Protest

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Tensions rise in Tibetan areas amid deteriorating rights situation.