Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Texas Professor Sues College after Being Disciplined for Speaking Out of Turn

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
A professor at the College of the Mainland (COM), a community college in Texas, has sued the college, alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights after he was officially reprimanded for comments made at a meeting of COM's Board of Trustees last year. The Galveston County Daily News writes:
David Michael Smith, who teaches political science at the college, received an official warning letter after an argument with college President Michael Elam during a board of trustees meeting in June of last year. Smith attended the meeting to speak to the board about dues deductions for union members. Smith is the president of COM-Unity, the college employees' union. During the meeting, Elam and Smith disagreed about whether the professor had agreed to have the union placed on a direct deposit pay system. Smith was reminded not to speak out of turn by members of the board. A few days later, Smith was issued a disciplinary letter, stating he had violated a section of the faculty code that states that educators should "treat all persons with respect, dignity and justice, discriminating against no one on any arbitrary basis."
Although laws vary by state, most trustee meetings of public institutions are ...

First Amendment Rodeo 6/28-7/11, 2011

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
A round-up of intellectual freedom issues in the news Privacy/Technology EU upset by Microsoft warning on U.S. access to EU cloud Pulling plug on privacy: How technology helped make the 4th Amendment obsolete To Slow Piracy, Internet Providers Ready Penalties Groupon Updates Privacy Rules, Including on Mobile Tracking and Sharing of Personal Information See also: What Groupon knows about its subscribers Harvard Researchers Accused of Breaching Students’ Privacy Free Speech NYT Editorial: Free Speech and the Internet Censorship Checking out complaints    

Judge Hears Arguments in Case Challenging Search of Electronic Devices at Borders

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

In the past three years, nearly 12,000 people have had their electronic devices searched when crossing international borders into the United States. These searches are being challenged in Abidor v. Napolitano, a case that could have repercussions for anyone carrying electronic devices when crossing international borders into the United States.

The case sheds light on the border search issues that CBLDF has been tracking and about which we issued an advisory last spring. Abidor v. Napolitano pertains specifically to the search and seizure of Pascal Abidor’s laptop when he traveled by train from Canada to New York. Upon learning that Abidor, an American and French citizen and Islamic Studies graduate student, had traveled in the Middle East, US Customs and Border patrol agents pulled Abidor aside and ordered him to log into his laptop. They proceeded to examine the contents of his laptop, which included images of Islamic militants that Abidor was using for research purposes. Abidor was then handcuffed, placed in a jail cell, and interrogated for several hours by Department of Homeland Security agents. Abidor was released that night, but the DHS held onto his laptop for a further 11 days, returning it only after the ACLU ...

Roman Caple’s Lawsuit Against St. Augustine’s College Covered in ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Marc Parry has written about Roman Caple's lawsuit against Saint Augustine's College (SAC) over at The Chronicle of Higher Education's tech blog, Wired Campus. Last Friday, Caple filed suit against SAC after it barred him from this spring's commencement ceremonies because of a single Facebook post. SAC has alleged that there are other reasons for punishing him but has never provided a single scrap of evidence beyond the one post about SAC's handling of its recovery from tornado damage. The suit alleges, among other things, that SAC broke its contractual promises of free expression when it punished Caple for his online speech.

Parry writes:

In a complaint filed Friday in North Carolina state court, Roman Caple accuses Saint Augustine's College of breach of contract, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mr. Caple is seeking more than $10,000 in damages in a case that is being promoted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national civil-liberties group. Among other things, his legal complaint laments the cost of the cap and gown that he wasn't able to use and the pain that not walking allegedly caused him ...

So far as we know, SAC has not yet responded publicly ...

In Troubling Ruling, Minnesota Court of Appeals Upholds Punishment of Student for Facebook Posts

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
In a troubling ruling (PDF) for speech on campus issued yesterday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a public university student's First Amendment rights are not violated by discipline meted out for social networking posts when such posts "materially and substantially disrupted the work and discipline of the university." The facts of the case, Tatro v. University of Minnesota, are certainly unique, even within the always interesting realm of First Amendment law. University of Minnesota (UM) undergraduate student Amanda Tatro studies in the university's mortuary sciences program. As part of the program's coursework, Tatro and other students participate in "laboratory courses in anatomy, embalming, and restorative art." While taking these courses, which involve use of real cadavers donated to the university through its "anatomy-bequest program," Tatro penned a series of Facebook posts in November and December of 2009, discussing the experiences of her lab work:
[Amanda Beth Tatro] Gets to play, I mean dissect, Bernie today. Lets see if I can have a lab void of reprimanding and having my scalpel taken away. Perhaps if I just hide it in my sleeve. [Footnote 2: “Bernie” was the name Tatro gave to the cadaver/donor she was assigned to work ...

ICAN(N) Censor

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
In late June the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the international body that oversees the Internet address system, announced that it approved new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs). There are currently 22 general top-level domain names (.com, .org, .net, etc.), however this vote means that there will be an indefinite number. One [...]

NBC-17 on Free Speech Lawsuit Against St. Augustine’s College

Monday, July 11th, 2011
As FIRE announced on Friday, St. Augustine's College (SAC) graduate Roman Caple has filed a lawsuit against his alma mater because SAC banned him from participating in its graduation ceremonies due to a "negative" Facebook post he wrote. Raleigh's NBC network affiliate, NBC-17, picked up the news of Caple's lawsuit over the weekend. NBC-17 notes that Caple was eventually provided with his cap and gown for graduation, but not until after the ceremony. This, unfortunately, is only one of the many insults that SAC and its leadership meted out against Roman Caple and against SAC's promises of free speech for students. Learn more about this case here.

Federal appeals court rules AIDS funding cannot be conditional on anti-prostitution stance

Monday, July 11th, 2011

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit  ruled  Wednesday that the US government cannot withhold HIV/AIDS funding to organizations based on their prostitution stance, finding a violation of the First Amendment. Upholding the injunction issued by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, the court agreed that the US Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 violates free speech with Section 7631(f): “[n]o funds made available to carry out this Act … may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution.” The court ruled that this unconstitutionally requires potential fund recipients to “espouse the government’s views.”

Read more.

FIRE Intern in ‘Tennesseean’ on Vanderbilt’s Online ‘Free Speech Zone’

Monday, July 11th, 2011
FIRE intern and Vanderbilt University student Kenny Tan published an op-ed in yesterday's Tennessean, Nashville's city newspaper, detailing the ways in which Vanderbilt's "no hate speech" rule in an online forum contradicts Vanderbilt's stated promises of encouraging academic debate through freedom of expression. In his op-ed, Kenny points out how critical open discourse is to education and how putting limitations on a purported "Free Speech Zone" is contrary to Vanderbilt's ideals:
"Hate speech" is an ambiguous term often used to investigate and punish students for speech deemed insensitive about any person or group. But there is no "hate speech" exception to "free speech," for good reason: in a truly free marketplace of ideas, "hateful" speech need not be feared, since speech based on hate or prejudice is simply not convincing when people have a chance to rationally evaluate it. What better place for this process to take place than on a college campus? It's not surprising, then, that Vanderbilt's faculty manual grants faculty and students the right to express views that others may find offensive, unpopular or even racist.
Kenny's op-ed pointed out that the administrators of the online forum in question, "Common Place," noted concerns that he raised ...

‘Omaha World-Herald’ Covers U. Minnesota’s Teacher Ed Scandal Regarding ‘Cultural Competence’ Requirement

Monday, July 11th, 2011
Yesterday the Omaha World-Herald covered the teacher education scandal at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, where the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group proposed an ideological litmus test for future teachers based on a highly politicized notion of "cultural competence." FIRE intervened, and the case made national news before the university's top lawyer finally promised that the university would never screen out prospective students with the "wrong" views. Yesterday's article connects this scandal to a decision in April 2011 by the Omaha school board to buy 8,000 copies of a book arguing that teachers should "take action for social justice" on a variety of controversial topics. Study sessions about the book will be part of teachers' professional development. According to the article, the book makes controversial claims about teachers and what personal values they should hold and espouse:
Only those educators who acknowledge the existence of white privilege in America, that "white" is a culture in America and that race "is a definer for social and economic status" can reach proficiency, the authors contend. Those who score poorly on the worksheet are asked in the book what they will do "to align yourself with the values expressed." [...] ...

Speak With EFF Attorneys in Las Vegas About Your Security Research

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Are you planning to be in Las Vegas during Black Hat, DEF CON, and BSidesLasVegas next month? EFF attorneys are available to provide legal information to security researchers about issues such as reverse engineering, vulnerability reporting, copyright, and free speech.

If you have concerns about security research you plan to present in Las Vegas, let us know by Friday, July 15. To set up a less time-sensitive appointment to speak with us at Black Hat, please contact us by Friday, July 22. If we can't assist you, we'll make every effort to put you in touch with an attorney who can.

Prosecutors Demand Laptop Password in Violation of Fifth Amendment

Friday, July 8th, 2011

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal court in Colorado today to block the government's attempt to force a woman to enter a password into an encrypted laptop, arguing in an amicus brief that it would violate her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

A defendant in this case, Ramona Fricosu, is accused of fraudulent real estate transactions. During the investigation, the government seized an encrypted laptop from the home she shares with her family, and then asked the court to compel Fricosu to type the password into the computer or turn over a decrypted version of her data. But EFF told the court today that the demand is contrary to the Constitution, forcing Fricosu to become a witness against herself.

"Decrypting the data on the laptop can be, in and of itself, a testimonial act -- revealing control over a computer and the files on it," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Ordering the defendant to enter an encryption password puts her in the situation the Fifth Amendment was designed to prevent: having to choose between incriminating herself, lying under oath, or risking contempt of court."

The government has offered Fricosu some limited immunity in ...

It’s About Time We Have “The Video Game Talk”

Friday, July 8th, 2011
Last Monday the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to strike down a California law that banned the selling of violent video games to minors. The Supreme Court ruled that video games are allowed the same protection under the first amendment as books, plays, and movies. The ruling also distinguished the California statute from the Ginsburg vs. [...]

The FBI’s Next Generation Identification: Bigger and Faster but Much Worse for Privacy

Friday, July 8th, 2011
This week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and several other organizations released documents from a FOIA lawsuit that expose the concerted efforts of the FBI and DHS to build a massive database of personal and biometric information. This database, called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI), has been in the works for several years now. However, the documents CCR posted show for the first time how FBI has taken advantage of the DHS Secure Communities program and both DHS and the State Department’s civil biometric data collection programs to build out this $1 billion database. Unlike some government initiatives, NGI has not been a secret program. The FBI brags about it on its website (describing NGI as “bigger, faster, and better”), and both DHS and FBI have, over the past 10+ years, slowly and carefully laid the groundwork for extensive data sharing and database interoperability through publicly-available privacy impact assessments and other records. However, the fact that NGI is not secret does not make it OK. Currently, the FBI and DHS have separate databases (called IAFIS and IDENT, respectively) that each have the capacity to store an extensive amount of information—including names, addresses, social security ...

Student Sues College that Banned Him from Graduation for ‘Negative’ Facebook Post

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Saint Augustine's College (SAC) graduate Roman Caple has filed suit against SAC (located in Raleigh, N.C.) and its president after he was forbidden from participating in spring 2011 graduation ceremonies because of a comment he posted on Facebook about how the college was handling its recovery from tornado damage. Caple's complaint, filed today in North Carolina state court, alleges that SAC violated its extensive promises of freedom of expression when it disciplined him for what it called a "negative social media exchange." Caple, represented by attorney Brandon S. Atwater, also came to FIRE for help.

Caple's ordeal began when a tornado hit Raleigh on April 16 and cut off electrical power to many SAC students. On April 18, SAC announced via Facebook that it would reopen, although some students remained without power. Following complaints, SAC announced a public meeting with Progress Energy and students on April 19. In response, Caple posted this message on SAC's Facebook page, encouraging fellow students to bring any necessary documentation to the meeting and to anticipate SAC’s response: "Here it go!!!!! Students come correct, be prepared, and have supporting documents to back up your arguments bcuz SAC will come hard!!!! That is all."


The Content Industry and ISPs Announce a “Common Framework for Copyright Alerts”: What Does it Mean for Users?

Friday, July 8th, 2011
A coalition of content industry players and ISPs today announced an anticipated collaborative effort to “curb online content theft,” described in more detail on a dedicated website for the initiative. The PR materials put out by the group are more telling for what they don’t say than what they do. The framework provides for a series of progressive “copyright alerts”—up to six—that ISPs will send their users based on notifications they receive from content owners of alleged infringement on those users’ Internet access accounts. Initial alerts will include “education” resources, further ones will require users to confirm receipt of the alert. Later alerts will provide for “mitigation measures” such as reduced Internet speed and inability to surf the web until the user takes some action, for example, discussing with the ISP or responding to “educational information about copyright.” What happens after six alerts? The materials emphatically state that ISPs are not required to terminate subscriber accounts as a condition of the agreement with the content industry and that the collaboration does not amount to a “three strikes” regime. But the materials also take pains to assert that the DMCA “requires that the ISPs have in place a termination policy for ...

Bid on One-of-a-Kind Portrait of Neil Gaiman!

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
CBLDF is offering a unique opportunity to own a gorgeous original portrait of superstar author and longtime CBLDF supporter Neil Gaiman! Up for bid now, the painting is an 18″ by 24″ watercolor by artist Steve Cleff. Cleff donated the painting to help raise awareness of CBLDF, an organization that Gaiman actively supports. Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of novels, comic books, and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and the novels American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. Gaiman has won numerous awards, including Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery Medal. You can see what Gaiman is working on by reading his blog. About the artist:
Steve Cleff was born in Philly and loves it so much he moved back there after he and his wife Tricia lived in paradise (aka Hawaii). Steve has a BFA from Syracuse and synesthesia, which means he sees color when he hears sounds. After doing private commissions for several years, Steve decided to show publicly and has displayed work in about a dozen solo and group exhibitions in Philadelphia, New York, and Honolulu. In 2010 he co-directed ...

EFF Asks Indiana Court to Protect Anonymity of Indy Star Commenter

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
EFF and five news organizations recently filed an amicus brief (pdf) urging an Indiana appeals court to block a subpoena seeking to expose the identity of an anonymous speaker who posted a comment on the Indianapolis Star's website. This is a case of first impression in Indiana. The subpoena stems from an underlying lawsuit filed by the former head of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, a non-profit whose mission is to teach children about business management and finance. Among other things, Jeffrey Miller alleges that Junior Achievement and two of its high-level officers defamed him by claiming that he misappropriated money from the organization. After the Indianapolis Star published the article Junior Achievement Faces Questions, Audit on, a reader anonymously posted a comment suggesting that the leaders of the organization might have mismanaged its finances. Miller fired off a subpoena to the Star seeking to unmask the poster. The newspaper is fighting the demand (pdf) to protect the poster's anonymity. EFF regularly urges courts (as counsel or amicus) to apply heightened constitutional standards to protect anonymous online expression. While litigants with valid claims against anonymous speakers can normally satisfy those protections, the First Amendment bars attempts to out ...

Tribal council shuts down Native American newspaper

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
A Native American newspaper in a remote region of northern California will not be able to publish again unless editors can justify the publication’s budget and content to tribal leaders, one of the paper’s editors said Wednesday. The staff of the Two Rivers Tribune met with the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council on Tuesday after the council’s chairman issued a memo late last week that abruptly shut down the paper. In the memo, Tribal Chairman Leonard Masten said the paper would be closed immediately because it was losing money and because of controversial articles about marijuana. Read article in full.

EFF Urges Senators to Recognize Need for Updated Privacy Laws

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
EFF and other privacy and consumer groups like Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Consumer Action have publicly responded to industry allegations that effective privacy regulations would harm the economy and innovation. A letter by sixteen trade groups—including the American Advertising Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—addressed to party heads of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, urged senators to ignore needed changes in privacy laws. The privacy coalition took issue with these claims, pointing to the very real privacy harms suffered by consumers online. Currently, most users are unaware of the pervasive nature of online tracking—and have no way to stop it. Helping consumers feel confident in their privacy will encourage innovation in the digital environment, spurring a robust online economy. Americans’ privacy is under siege in the current online ecosystem. Companies with large troves of sensitive information have suffered data breaches left and right, putting consumers at risk of identity theft. Because much of what we do online is protected First Amendment activity—reading, speaking, writing, associating—we must expect significant government interest in that data as well. Yet users cannot easily block unwanted tracking programs—assuming they know about them in the first place. The letter that EFF ...

Despite Letters from FIRE, Macomb Community College Fails to Clarify Student Civility Statement, Rectify Speech Code

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

When FIRE writes to universities expressing our concerns about policies restricting campus speech, we ideally hope to receive a response expressing the university’s willingness to revise those policies that violate the First Amendment or, in the case of private institutions, the very promises of free expression made by those schools. Short of that, we at least hope to receive a response acknowledging our free speech concerns and stating that the university will look into the matter further.

In the case of Macomb Community College (MCC) in Michigan, however, we have received neither. FIRE has written MCC twice in recent months, with nary a response to either letter. Our letters concerned two basic issues: one, a civility statement sent by the MCC administration to all students, and two, MCC’s already existing speech code, a red-light policy that restricts students’ speech rights in several respects.

As we wrote in our first letter, dated March 9, our concern was first raised by a January 8, 2011, memorandum sent to all MCC students by Associate Vice President for Student and Community Services Geary M. Maiuri, titled “Student Civility at Macomb Community College.” This memorandum stated, in relevant part:

It is critical for you to know and understand some of the things we at Macomb Community College feel are important and what we expect of you as a Macomb College student.

It is important that you have a serious attitude toward learning and a respectful approach to dealing with situations.  Appropriate behavior is required, and Macomb students should exhibit respect toward fellow students and staff.  We ask you to follow faculty and staff directives, refrain from the use of foul language, and not to create disturbances or threats that would otherwise disrupt the learning or office environment.  It is important for you when on campus, to exhibit professionalism and collegiate behavior.  We appreciate diversity, and expect our students to show respect toward diversity.  All of us want to attend school at a safe campus, so we encourage you to report any dangerous or suspicious behavior.

As a college student, we expect that you will understand and adhere to college polices and laws.  The College’s Handbook on Rights and Responsibilities outlines the actions that will be taken if students do not adhere to college rules and regulations.

In our March 9 letter we laid out the many problems with this statement, if indeed it represents official policy at MCC under which students potentially face sanction and punishment. First, the statement asks that students “refrain from the use of foul language” despite the fact that profanity is largely protected and would need to be accompanied by other, unprotected speech or conduct (or take place in unique circumstances) to be removed from First Amendment protection. Like it or not, profanity may not be constitutionally banned at a public college simply because some find it offensive or distasteful (as another community college, Hinds Community College in Mississippi, learned in the case of Isaac Rosenbloom). The United States Supreme Court’s famous pronouncement that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” in Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971), a decision overturning the conviction of a man who wore a jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” into a courthouse, is particularly apt here.

Additionally, MCC’s memorandum states that students should not create “disturbances.” As we again pointed out, it is one thing to prohibit conduct that truly interferes with the educational process or the proper functioning of the college; it is quite another to place a vague, unsettled ban on any “disturbance” created by student expression. The airing of one’s views on any number of hot-button social and political topics may “disturb” another person in the sense of agitating or angering them, yet that alone is not a sound basis for restricting such expressionindeed, the college campus exists in large part to encourage and allow for this type of open debate and discussion. MCC’s statement also does not provide any explanation or illustration of what constitutes a “disturbance” in the eyes of its administration, giving students little notice of the speech that is potentially subject to punishment (and giving the MCC administration quite a bit of discretion in terms of enforcing the policy). This creates the further harm of a chilling effect on campus discourse, as most students will refrain from saying anything that might offend a fellow student rather than risk being charged with a violation of this provision. MCC must take a hard look at this provision, in order to limit its reach to true, actionable disruptions of the educational environment.

The MCC memorandum further states that students “should exhibit respect toward fellow students and staff” and that the college “expect[s] our students to show respect toward diversity.” While perhaps well-intentioned, the requirement of “respect” in all forms of student speech and interaction goes too far from a free speech perspective, as the First Amendment protects many types of disrespectful and rude expression. In fact, I might say that the First Amendment exists precisely to protect speech which others disagree with and wish to censor, as opposed to the types of polite or tame speech with which most people would be comfortable. The term “respect,” left alone and undefined, is also open to interpretation, because what is perceived as disrespectful by one person may be perfectly respectful to another. Because the application of this term is as much a matter of taste as anything else, this provision, like the one on “disturbances,” leaves students unclear about their expressive rights and gives MCC administrators too much discretion when it comes to enforcement and punishment.

Given these doctrinal flaws, we advised MCC that if it wished to encourage students to follow certain valuesas opposed to requiring students to subscribe to these values, under pain of punishmentthen it must make abundantly clear that the provisions of the memorandum on Student Civility at Macomb Community College are strictly aspirational. Like any college or university, public or private, MCC is well within its rights to recommend that students conduct themselves in a certain way on campus. By leaving ambiguous whether students could face punishment for violating the terms of the Student Civility statement, however, MCC has placed its students’ First Amendment rights in peril.

That’s not all, unfortunately. As we pointed out in our letters, MCC also has at least one policy on the books that clearly and substantially violates its students’ free speech rights. MCC’s “Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources” policy reads, in pertinent part:

The following behaviors are prohibited while using College information technology resources, including computers and networks owned or operated by Macomb Community College, or to which Macomb Community College is connected…. Sending chain letters, junk mail, “spam,” “flaming,” “mailbombs,” or other similar types of broadcast messages; Sending a message to more than ten (10) internal or external email addresses except as required to conduct College business; … Sending messages that are malicious or that a reasonable person would find to be harassing or threatening ….

This policy is problematic, first of all, because it prohibits students from sending “chain letters” or sending emails to more than ten individuals unless they are “conduct[ing] College business.” It is difficult to imagine what interest on the part of MCC is served by these restrictions. Sending chain emails, in and of itself, does not in any real way disrupt the educational process or the proper functioning of a university’s IT services, and indeed, this ban would seem to apply to solicited emails and replies as much as it does to unsolicited messages. The limit on sending emails to more than ten people immediately brings to mind the case of Kara Spencer at Michigan State University. Spencer, loyal Torch readers may recall, was found guilty of violating Michigan State’s spamming policy because she emailed a carefully selected group of faculty about proposed changes to the school’s academic calendar (on behalf of a committee of faculty, students, and administrators, no less). It is easy to imagine another Kara Spencer case happening at MCC under the Acceptable Use policy, all because of a student’s constitutionally protected expression. Nor does the exception made for “conduct[ing] College business” save this policy, as many matters that go beyond official school business are worthy of robust dialogue on a college campusthe discussion of any number of social, political, and cultural matters of public significance among them.

Finally, the Acceptable Use policy bans sending “malicious” messages. Like some of the provisions of the Student Civility memorandum, this encompasses a great deal of speech that is unpleasant yet perfectly entitled to constitutional protection. The term “malicious” is also left undefined, leaving students to guess at what an administrator might deem to be punishable. If you send a “malicious” email taking issue with a fellow student who you think is racist, for example, should you be punished? Once again, the vagueness and extensive reach of this provision places the expressive rights of MCC students in peril.

We hope that the administration of Macomb Community College is mindful of the First Amendment problems presented by its Student Civility memorandum and its red-light policy on Acceptable Use. While we regret that MCC thus far has not acknowledged or responded to our letters, FIRE believes that the changes needed to improve these policies, and thereby restore MCC students’ full First Amendment rights on campus, are not difficult to make. We will continue to stay after it, and we will update Torch readers on developments in this matter.

Crazy 8 Press Launches with CBLDF Benefit at Shore Leave 33

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
This weekend, the founders of Crazy 8 PressPeter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, and Howard Weinstein — take their superhero act on the road to attend Shore Leave 33 and support the CBLDF in the process! Shore Leave 33, a fan-run science fiction convention, takes place July 8-10, 2011, at the Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore, Maryland. David, Friedman, Greenberger, Hauman, Rosenberg, and Weinstein are all on hand to celebrate the launch of Crazy 8 Press throughout the weekend. Their celebration includes the writing of an original story on the convention floor, the sale of which will benefit CBLDF’s First Amendment work! A participatory experience, fans are invited to contribute to the tale by suggesting possible opening sequences on Crazy 8 Press’s Facebook page and during the Friday night opening of the convention. One of these opening sequences will be selected at random, and the tale spun from it will be sold as an e-book on Amazon,, and other online booksellers. Profits from the sale of the book benefit CBLDF, on whose board of directors David currently serves. Collectively, the founders of Crazy 8 Press have hundreds of books ...

It’s Back: WIPO Broadcasting Treaty Returns From The Grave

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
Longtime readers will remember the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, which EFF has opposed since 2004 because it would harm consumers, citizen journalists, the free flow of information on the Internet, and innovation. Since 2006, EFF and a broad coalition [PDF] of public interest groups, libraries, creative industry members, telecommunications and technology companies have been explaining how granting broadcasters and cablecasters the intellectual property rights envisaged by the draft Treaty would wreak havoc on the Internet community. After much debate and little agreement about key aspects of the Treaty, such as its objectives, specific scope, and object of protection, negotiations stalled in 2007. But it now seems to have come back from the dead in a little-noticed but highly-coordinated effort to grant broadcasters exclusive, 50-year intellectual property rights over Internet transmissions. WIPO member states agreed on June 24 [PDF] to meet for two days before the next Copyright committee meeting in November specifically to try to reach agreement on a new treaty proposal, with the goal of asking WIPO member states in 2012 to schedule an intergovernmental Diplomatic Conference at which the revised Treaty could be adopted. The renewed interest in the Broadcasting Treaty has been spurred ...

Notre Dame Settles with OCR, Adopts Preponderance Standard, Restricts Free Speech

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
The University of Notre Dame has settled an investigation by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights into its sexual assault policies and procedures, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Predictably, the settlement involved Notre Dame agreeing to use the preponderance of the evidence standard in sexually related cases (FIRE explains its objections to this low standard of evidence here.) According to the OCR press release, the settlement "furthers the goals of OCR and the university to have in place procedures and practices that are designed to prevent a sexually hostile environment from occurring on campus." FIRE has been worried that OCR's failure to mention free speech at all in its most recent guidance letter to universities would lead to restrictions on "politically incorrect" speech on campus, and it appears that our concerns are being borne out. I'm still looking at the settlement agreement in detail, but I couldn't help notice this gem from page 2:
4. The Code contains examples of the types of sexual misconduct that are prohibited by the University and includes a detailed definition of consent. The Code states that prohibited sexual misconduct/assault offenses include: non-consensual sexual intercourse, nonconsensual sexual contact,  and other ...

FIRE at Campus Progress Conference Today

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Today, FIRE staffers Jaclyn Hall and Joanna Brenner are representing FIRE at the Campus Progress National Conference, an annual gathering of progressive students from around the country for the discussion of various national issues. As the Campus Progress attendees learn how to make an impact in today's important debates, Jaclyn and Joanna will be there to spread FIRE's nonpartisan message of free speech and liberty, and to discuss the ways FIRE works with students to ensure that their campuses protect open discourse. We're proud to be a full sponsor of this year's Campus Progress conference. 

Campus Progress is one of the many national and regional conferences FIRE attends during the year. Our presence at conferences like Campus Progress, CPAC, and the like brings with it the benefit of being able to interact with students of all backgrounds and viewpoints. If you're at the conference, please stop by FIRE's table and say hello! For those following the conference remotely (like me), you can check in on the day's events via twitter using the hashtag #CPNC11 and by following FIRE and Campus Progress respectively at @TheFIREorg and @CampusProgress.    

IFRT Report, Volume 75 Now Online!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The latest volume of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table Report (Volume 75) is online! This latest issue features articles about the Google Books Settlement, Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, and a Year in Review from outgoing chair Loida Garcia-Febo.

Please visit the IFRT Report page to access it, along with past volumes.

Background Checking Apps: Don’t Flout Consumer Privacy Rights

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Jobseekers be wary: the hard-won privacy rights granted to you by federal and state law might not follow you into the digital space.

For forty years, individuals in the United States applying for jobs have held certain protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For example, in many circumstances a consumer who is rejected from a job due to information in an employment background check can review the information in that report and petition to have any inaccuracies corrected. 1 These rights are often supplemented by stronger state-level consumer protections, such as California’s Civil Code 1786 which allows a consumer access to her background check report even if she isn’t rejected from the position for which she applied. But as employment background checks move into the digital world—via websites such as Background Record Finder or mobile apps like the recently-released BeenVerified app—will jobseekers be able to maintain their protections?

There are dozens of websites that offer online background checks (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Online Information Brokers list indexes several of them). These services cast a wide net over a consumer’s digital data—gathering up facts from court records, criminal records, driving history, voter registration, and sometimes even elements of one’s credit ...

Alaska Supreme Court: no free-association right to smoke in private club

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Members of a private club do not have a First Amendment free-association right to smoke in their club, the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled.

The state’s high court ruled that a city smoking ban regulates conduct, not any protected form of association.

In October 2001 the city and borough of Juneau passed its first ordinance limiting smoking in certain public places to combat second-hand smoke. Through the years the city has amended its ordinance several times, including in 2008 when it extended the ban on private clubs that sell alcohol or food.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, Juneau-Douglas Aerie 4200 and several of its members sued in state court in July 2008, contending that the amended ordinance violated their First Amendment free-association rights. The plaintiffs also alleged that the law violated their right to privacy under the Alaska Constitution.

Read David Hudson’s analysis in full.

Canada Customs Case in the News

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

With the recent spate of legal victories that CBLDF has celebrated, Brigid Alverson with CBR’s Robot 6 blog took a moment to touch base with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein about the Canada Customs Case:

It’s been a momentous week for the CBLDF. Last Friday we announced our decision to build a coalition to aid an American traveler facing prison time in Canada and registering as a sex offender for traveling with comics on his laptop.  On Monday we received news that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a California law that would have made violence a new category of unprotected speech by banning the sale and display of violent video games, and that Justice Scalia cited our amicus brief as part of his majority decision.  And just today news arrived that we successfully helped knock out an Alaska law that would have placed severe restrictions on internet speech.

As a week of news, it’s a tremendous capsule illustrating what the CBLDF is all about. We protect the First Amendment rights of the comics art form. Sometimes that means coming out against bad laws that almost everyone agrees are bad laws, and sometimes that means fighting for important free ...

"Who Has Your Back?" In Depth: Fighting for User Privacy in Congress

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

EFF has called on companies to stand with their users when the government comes looking for data. (If you haven’t done so, sign the petition urging companies to provide better transparency and privacy.) This article will provide a more detailed look at the last of the four elements required for a company to earn a gold star in our campaign: Fight for user privacy in Congress.

In prior blog posts about the "Who Has Your Back?" campaign, we've explained that companies largely rely on internal policies when the government comes seeking data about users. If those policies are weak, murky, or left unshared, we as users are prevented from making informed decisions about the privacy risks we face.

But we shouldn't be dependent on company policies to protect our privacy. The law should protect it too, even as technologies change. And the companies that hold our data should stand with users in making the necessary legal updates. That's why the "Who Has Your Back?" campaign urges companies to take steps like joining in the effort towards lasting, permanent improvements — an industry-wide raising of the bar for user privacy — by joining the Digital Due Process coalition (DDP). Members of ...

The Alaska Press Reacts to Recent Invalidation of Senate Bill 222

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Sometimes, even the best intentions produce overly-broad laws that cannot be enforced or that violate the First Amendment rights of innocent parties. Last year, Alaska passed Senate Bill 222 with the intent to protect minors, but the language of the law put an unreasonable burden on internet users, including comic book creators and retailers selling at both brick and mortar stores and online.

CBLDF joined the Media Coalition and a variety of plaintiffs from Alaska in challenging the law. Alaska’s KTUU highlighted the Media Coalition’s efforts to refine the language of the law and bring the law into alignment with the First Amendment before its passage. You can read a summary of these efforts here.

Despite the Media Coalition’s efforts, the Alaska Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 222. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline struck down multiple provisions of the law, citing violation of the First Amendment.

Alaska Public Radio’s Ellen Lockyer spoke with David Cheezum, co-owner of Fireside Books, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, about the burden the law would have placed on retailers had it stood:

Either your website or your store clerk have to know two things: to know the content of ...

Embattled Widener Law Professor Adds Student Defendants in Defamation Lawsuit

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

FIRE has been following the story of Widener University School of Law Professor Lawrence Connell, whose law school is attempting to fire him on the basis of extremely outlandish allegations about statements that supposedly violate the school's harassment code. His alleged offenses include using the term "black folks" in class and using the names of law school dean Linda L. Ammons and other law school colleagues as characters in hypothetical case scenarios for his criminal law class (a common practice in law school, as we've discussed). Although a faculty committee recommended the charges against him be dismissed, Dean Ammons and the Widener administration refiled charges against him using another, more secretive, process.

With his job on the line, Professor Connell filed suit in Delaware state court in April against Dean Ammons on several claims of libel and slander. His complaint discusses six alleged defamatory acts against him by Dean Ammons. Connell is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in an unspecified amount, as well as legal costs.

All of this was enough to earn Widener University a Campus Muzzle "Double Muzzle" from FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate last week in The Boston Phoenix.

But that's not all. ...

Ohio Court rules cop-cussing “fighting words,” not free speech

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
An Ohio woman who repeatedly cursed at the police after they arrested her son committed disorderly conduct and had no First Amendment free-speech defense, an Ohio appeals court ruled recently. Dorthea Frazier’s son Cody was arrested by Akron police after a brief car chase. Dorthea Frazier yelled at the arresting officers: “What the f— are you arresting my son for? What are you doing?” She then yelled at a lieutenant: “You f—ing crooked a– cop” and “You’re a b—-.” The lieutenant apparently ordered her to desist from further yelling, but Frazier persisted. Officers on the scene testified that her cursing drew a growing crowd and presented a possibly dangerous situation. Read David Hudson’s analysis in full.

University of Oregon Suddenly Drops ASL Professor after Remark in Class; FIRE Intervenes

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
FIRE has asked University of Oregon (UO) President Richard Lariviere to reverse the damage to free speech and academic freedom that UO caused when it dropped American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Peter Quint in the middle of the term without a hint of due process, all because of a comment he made during class about students who were violating a class policy. Quint, who is deaf, had been appointed as an ASL instructor for the 2009-2010 academic year, and his appointment was renewed for 2010-2011, with a reasonable expectation of renewal for the coming year. A small number of students in his ASL 203 had been failing to follow the class policy stated on the syllabus, which was that "it is expected that all attempts at communication be made visually." Although he had taken steps to address the problem, they continued to violate the policy. On May 4, Quint opened his ASL 203 class with a personal story meant to emphasize the need to be able to communicate across barriers and show respect in a "foreign" environment such as an ASL classroom. Quint related his experience in Pakistan when his ability to communicate with others in a foreign environment had helped him escape ...

Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Hold Practices

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

The Intellectual Freedom Committee and the IFC Privacy Subcommittee developed the “Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Hold Practices” after receiving requests from librarians and library users to examine the issue of reader privacy and self-service holds.  Prior to last month’s ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, the Office for Intellectual Freedom distributed the resolution for comment, and an open hearing was held during Conference for comments.  That process led to a revision of the resolution and what the IFC believes to be an improved version.

The final resolution as presented by the Intellectual Freedom Committee was adopted by the ALA Council on June 28.


Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Hold Practices

WHEREAS, the ALA Code of Ethics states, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted”; and

WHEREAS, the American Library Association affirms that rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship (ALA Policy Manual, 53.1.16, Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights); and

WHEREAS, the lack of privacy and confidentiality has a chilling effect ...

Speech Code of the Month: Eastern Michigan University

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for July 2011: Eastern Michigan University (EMU). EMU's Student Conduct Code defines "sexual harassment" as

Conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive campus, educational or working environment for another person. This includes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, inappropriate sexual or gender-based activities, comments or gestures, or other forms of verbal or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment. [Emphasis added.]

This policy's prohibition on "inappropriate sexual or gender-based ... comments" means that virtually any speech relating in any way to gender is subject to punishment if it offends a member of the campus community and EMU officials deem it "inappropriate." Issues of sex and gender are frequently the subject of discussion and debate at a universityboth within and outside of the classroomand this broad restriction seriously endangers the kind of open debate that should define a university. A review of EMU's course catalog reveals the danger of a policy like this at an institution that, through its academic program, encourages students to explore sensitive questions about sex and gender:

  • SOCL 344, "Sociology of Gender," is described as an ...

Reassessing “Decency”

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
On Monday, June 27th, the Supreme Court announced that upon returning from its summer recess in October, it would revisit the Federal Communication Commission’s rule that allows it to fine broadcasters for “indecency.” Last year, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC was violating broadcasters’ free-speech rights. The Court [...]

CBLDF Wishes You a Happy Fourth of July

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Happy Fourth of July! As we spend the day celebrating the United States, watching fireworks, and enjoying barbeques, let’s also remember the fight for our freedoms, a fight that required the founding of a brand new nation. Not least of those freedoms: The freedom to say what’s on our minds!

Let’s also remember the people around the world who don’t have the same right the Free Speech, including some of our own citizens when they travel abroad.

Please celebrate the holiday by supporting CBLDF’s defense of Free Speech with a donation today!

‘Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction’

Monday, July 4th, 2011
FIRE is very conscious of the fact that it is a uniquely American organization. Among the many peculiar and wonderful features of the United States of America is the First Amendment, which without a doubt guarantees Americans the strongest freedoms of speech, religion, association, and expression of any people in the world. It is therefore appropriate that FIRE mark Independence Day as a celebration of the nation that makes our organization what it is and the Framers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution who set forth the principles that guide us.

There are many ways in which those Framers proved prescient. One of them is in the way that Americans would celebrate the day marking their emergence as a free and independent people. John Adams, later the second President of the United States, assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence, and on July 3, 1776, in a letter to his wife Abigail, wrote the following about the remarkable event. (A quick note: Adams thought the day to be celebrated would be July 2, the day independence was actually declared, rather than July 4, the day the document was adopted.)
I am apt to believe that it will ...

EFF Denounces Flawed E-Verify Proposal that Would Trample on Worker Privacy

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Congress is considering a bill that would federalize E-Verify, creating a single, government-controlled database of highly sensitive, detailed information about every legal worker in the United States. EFF joined the ACLU, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Liberty Coalition, and dozens of other civil liberties and labor groups in urging Congress to uphold worker privacy and reject the Legal Workforce Act.

The Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2164) would require all employers to use an Internet-based program called E-Verify to check every worker against an error-prone database. In letters sent to both houses of Congress, the coalition of advocacy groups decried the implementation of a nationwide system that could lead to downstream abuses by intelligence and law enforcement groups. The proposed bill could create a bureaucratic nightmare for American businesses while trampling on the privacy rights of workers.

The civil liberties groups raised particular concerns over identity theft. The Chronology of Data Breaches—a review of all public, sensitive records exposed through data breaches in the U.S.—lists over 534 million records since 2005, showcasing how prone large databases are to breaches of all sorts. And these data breaches have real repercussions—increasing the likelihood of identity theft by ...

This Week in Internet Censorship: Arrests of Twitter Users and New Filtering

Friday, July 1st, 2011


In Pakistan, where substantial online and offline censorship already exist, reports have emerged that users of the ISP Mobilink must add proxy port 3128 to browse the Internet, resulting in censorship of key words and phrases in search engines, as well as several individual web pages, mostly related to Balochistan.

According to Shahzad Ahmad at the OpenNet Initiative, “Mobilink’s new filtering system will directly affect a large portion of Pakistan’s online community, which comprises 17 percent of the country’s population, or around 28 million people.”

Ahmad also notes that there is “no public knowledge of new legislation” that would have caused Mobilink to implement the new filtering.


Two Kuwaiti citizens, Nasser Abul and Lawrence Al-Rashidi, are to be tried for criticizing members of the royal families of neighboring states Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Twitter. According to a Reuters report, both men will remain in detention until a hearing is scheduled and will likely face charges of harming Kuwait’s interests and defamation.

Earlier this year, Bahrain arrested several bloggers and social media users, possibly as a result of content posted on Twitter. The country has also blocked access to individual Twitter accounts.

Though bloggers have ...

Campus Muzzles Announced: Yale, Wesleyan, Widener, UMass

Friday, July 1st, 2011

The annual Campus Muzzles in The Boston Phoenix feature Yale University's punishment of a fraternity chant, Wesleyan University's ban on fraternizing with an unregistered organization, Widener University School of Law's attempts to fire a law professor for using common hypothetical scenarios, and University of Massachusetts Amherst's vague and overbroad proposal to ban "bullying" and impose an ideological morality code on its students. 

FIRE co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate selects the Campus Muzzles each year to highlight schools' violations of fundamental rights on campus, focusing on New England and occasionally stretching down as far as Delaware, where Widener is located.

Widener's actions have been so outrageous that the school has received a Double Muzzle. Yale is a repeat "winner" (it won in 2010) and was FIRE's Speech Code of the Month for June 2011. 
Wesleyan partially reversed its ban after FIRE intervened and students advocated for the right to freedom of association that Wesleyan (a private university) had promised them. Yet, fraternizing with an unregistered Greek organization at Wesleyan--which includes taking meals or engaging in any social activity on the organization's property--is still forbidden.

The good news here is that UMass Amherst looks like it will escape from its ...

‘Triangle Business Journal’ on UNC’s Revocation of Emeritus Professor’s Network Access

Friday, July 1st, 2011

North Carolina's Triangle Business Journal is the latest media outlet to report on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's (UNC's) troubling action against Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer when UNC succumbed to outside pressure to revoke Cramer's university network access. The pressure had come from Joseph Villarosa, who has no affiliation with UNC but who drew UNC into his personal dispute with Cramer.

FIRE's Will Creeley commented for the article:

"Once the university has established a set of rules, it has set a precedent," says Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE. "Professors expect that when they retire, the promise of network access will be honored. Now that UNC has revoked the access it promised Cramer, it has set an equally bad precedent."

Others claim to have problems with Villarosa as well. Susan Barrett with the N.C. Shelter Rescue Inc. says she is under a "full throttle attack," by Villarosa and has filed a "no-contact order" because of his alleged harassment.


"You can't change the rules in the middle of the game" just because "one angry man was persistent enough," Creeley says. "All you have to do is send them enough emails, and they will get annoyed and they won't ignore you. ...

Commentary: Supreme Court term was a winner for First Amendment

Friday, July 1st, 2011

If there was any lingering doubt about the conservative embrace of traditional First Amendment doctrine, the Supreme Court erased it this past term. In two of the marquee decisions of the term — Snyder v. Phelps, involving virulent funeral protests, and the violent video game case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association — conservative-led majorities invoked the Court’s liberal-era hallmarks of free-speech protection. They did so using language suitable, say, for a First Amendment calendar.

Read Tony Mauro’s analysis in full.

Read the briefs filed by the Thomas Jefferson Center in Snyder v. Phelps and Brown v. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association).


The Good Fighters: TFAW’s Andrew McIntire and Elisabeth Forsythe

Friday, July 1st, 2011

To help fund its fight for Free Speech, CBLDF relies on many people, including the retailers who keep us in comic books and graphic novels. Retailers support us by becoming members, leaving a collection can on the counter, and putting on events in their stores to benefit CBLDF.

In the case of Things From Another World’s Senior Director of Retail Operations Andrew McIntire and Marketing Manager Elisabeth Forsythe, helping CBLDF has become an obsession. Three years ago, they launched an annual campaign to collect original art donations for CBLDF’s auction at Comic-Con International, helping the Fund raise thousands of dollars in the process. Each summer, they dedicate themselves to soliciting and gathering donations from comics creators around the world, making sure CBLDF has an amazing array of original art up for bid. From this art, they make a series of autograph cards that both promote the auction and CBLDF.

McIntire and Forsythe are both diehard comics fans, with a knowledge of and love for the medium that few can stand up to. They’re off to a good start with this year’s auction, as you can see here, and we took a moment to talk to them about CBLDF and ...

CBLDF Applauds Ruling Invalidating Alaska Censorship Law!

Friday, July 1st, 2011

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund welcomes today’s decision to bar enforcement of an Alaska criminal statute that the Federal District Court held threatened to reduce all speech on the Internet “to only what is fit for children.” The court permanently barred enforcement of that statute because it violates First Amendment rights of free speech.

The CBLDF participated as a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by Alaska booksellers, librarians, a photographer, and other First Amendment and media organizations through the Media Coalition. Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline held that Senate Bill 222, which could have made anyone who operates a website criminally liable for posting material deemed “harmful to minors,” would have chilled free expression. “There are no reasonable technological means that enable a speaker on the Internet to ascertain the actual age of persons who access their communications,” the Court held. “Individuals who fear the possibility of a minor receiving speech intended for an adult may refrain from exercising their right to free speech at all – an unacceptable result.”

“The Judge recognized the clear violation of the First Amendment rights of all citizens posed by this overbroad statute,” said Michael Bamberger of SNR Denton US LLP, ...

Did You Miss Greg on ‘Stossel’? Watch it Online!

Friday, July 1st, 2011
Fox Business Network has posted for online viewing the segment of last night's Stossel featuring FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Indoctrinate U filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney. In the segment, Greg and Evan discuss the censorship of speech on campuses across the country, including at West Virginia UniversityYaleCal Poly, and the University of Michigan. If you missed last night's show, take a few minutes to watch the discussion online!    

DEF CON 19 Getaway Contest – DAYS LEFT!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

With only a few days and a 4th of July weekend left, our second annual DEF CON Getaway Contest is getting down to the wire! Thirty-seven participants have raised nearly $4,500but it's not over!

You have until 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 to win the Grand Prize Package including a standard suite at the Rio Hotel and Casino, two DEF CON 19 Human badges, two tickets to Vegas 2.0's (in)famous kickoff party theSummit, two badges for the ultra-exclusive Ninja Networks Party, AND an EFF Swag Super Pack. The Second Place Winner will receive two DEF CON 19 Human badges and two tickets to the Vegas 2.0 Party. The Third Place Winner will receive one DEF CON 19 Human badge and one ticket to the Vegas 2.0 Party.

JUST ADDED! We are happy to award an EFF DEF CON 19 t-shirt to all team captains raising $300 or more! This limited run of 325 shirts will only be available to DEF CON 19 Getaway Contest participants, and on site in Las Vegas this summer!

Currently in the lead is ISD Podcast with $1,913.37, followed by team Holy Handgrenades with $1,317.04! ArtC has just ...

Take the Great First Amendment Quiz!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The First Amendment Center and USA Today have teamed up to create the Great First Amendment Quiz.

This July 4 weekend, test your freedom IQ here.

‘Minding the Campus’: ‘Let’s Make Sure Those RA Brains Are Properly Washed’

Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Minding the Campus has excerpted a harrowing story of thought reform at DePauw University written by former resident assistant (RA) Rachel Cheeseman, who is a FIRE intern this summer. Here's part of it:
During the week-long series of RA training events, my fellow RAs and I were lectured repeatedly about white privilege, racism, sexism, and every other "ism." My peers who questioned the information were silenced immediately or heckled for their refusal to accept the dogmatic views of our superiors. ... When my residents arrived, I was required to escort them through a mandatory interactive live performance, "Tunnel of Oppression." As we walked through the halls of the house in which the performance was held, we were taught different lessons by inference through the "realistic" demonstrations in each room, including "religious parents hate their gay children," "Muslims will find no friends on a predominantly white campus," "white people believe all black women are ‘welfare mamas,'" ... Not only did this brainwashing program go against DePauw's own promise of freedom of conscience, it promoted an environment where there is a "right" and a "wrong" way of thinking. But more than just telling us what to think, DePauw told us ...