10 Nov

American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!

Today in the Senate there was a major win for freedom of speech and the Internet. In a largely partisan vote Senate Democrats defeated a resolution introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) which would have overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) open Internet rules that are set to go into effect this month.

Though the FCC’s rules are not great, they do offer some protections for net neutrality on the wired Internet and overturning them would have been a huge setback for free speech on the web. During debate on the Senate floor yesterday supporters of the resolution railed against government regulation while opponents defended the rules saying they were necessary to maintain the openness and innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

via American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!. Yeah for Net Neutrality, boo for my State Senator being the one who introduced this resolution.

28 Aug

Universal Hub – Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim "qualified immunity" because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights:

via Universal Hub – Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional. I could not be happier with this ruling.

28 Aug

NYTimes.com – Man Accused of Stalking via Twitter Claims Free Speech

They certainly rattled Alyce Zeoli, a Buddhist leader based in Maryland. Using an ever-changing series of pseudonyms, the authorities say, Mr. Cassidy published thousands of Twitter posts about Ms. Zeoli. Some were weird horror-movie descriptions of what would befall her; others were more along these lines: “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.”

Those relentless tweets landed Mr. Cassidy in jail on charges of online stalking and placed him at the center of an unusual federal case that asks the question: Is posting a public message on Twitter akin to speaking from an old-fashioned soapbox, or can it also be regarded as a means of direct personal communication, like a letter or phone call?

via NYTimes.com – Man Accused of Stalking via Twitter Claims Free Speech. It’s an interesting case because while Twitter itself is a public medium, the person is directing their messages to a particular person. The better analogy may be while in the pulpit pointing to a particular person and speaking. At that point are you still creating a public message or is it a message directed at one person?

18 Aug

Ars Technica – Wikipedia editors voting on plan to “shutter” violent and sexual images

Active Wikimedia editors in good standing are voting on a referendum measure that might put at least some of the media collective’s famous disagreements over images to rest. The referendum asks Wikimedians to decide whether to implement a system for readers to conceal pictures that they would prefer not to view, via preference settings.

The object of this measure is to further what Wikimedia participants call the "principle of least astonishment, or least surprise" for users. But under the referendum proposal, these potentially upsetting pictures would not be deleted. They would simply require further clicking to view, an option that a Wikimedia report calls "shuttering."

Some images, such as those depicting genitals, sexual practices, or mass death and disfigurement, "will inevitably still have the power to disturb some viewers, especially if they are children, or if they are happened upon unintentionally," the referendum page notes. "The point of the opt-in personal image hiding feature is to help alleviate that surprise and dismay, by making the images unavailable for viewing without a second command."

via Ars Technica – Wikipedia editors voting on plan to “shutter” violent and sexual images. Not a bad plan, it’s a reasonable balance between still providing a visual representation of whatever and making it easier for people who don’t want to be “shocked” at the sight of the image.

06 Mar

ZDNet – Students suspended, expelled over Facebook posts

Two students have been suspended, and one student has been expelled, over negative Facebook postings they made about a teacher. The individuals are in seventh grade at Chapel Hill Middle School, meaning they are either 12 or 13 years old, according to My Fox Atlanta. The children are accused of violating a portion of the school code that is a “level one” offense, the worst possible: “Falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting, or erroneously reporting” allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee toward a student, according to AJC.

via ZDNet – Students suspended, expelled over Facebook posts. The worst part of the whole process is the fact that the students were forced to log onto their Facebook accounts at school. I’m not even sure how the principal could logically dictate that a student be forced to log onto their account. (Side Note: this once again pushes me to argue for using tools like 1Password for storing passwords, unless installed on that computer or your mobile phone no one can ever force you log in, when you don’t know or have access to the password.) The school shouldn’t have a right to dictate what students due in the privacy of their online accounts or in their free time.

20 Feb

ReadWriteWeb – Libya Shuts Down Internet

Rensys reports that Libya has completely shut down their Internet as of midnight Saturday local time.

Qaddafi’s Libya is engaging in the strategy that Mubarak’s Egypt used to little effect, clearly hoping for a radically different outcome.

via ReadWriteWeb – Libya Shuts Down Internet. Looks like Libyan domains such as bit.ly are still up however.

16 Feb

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Trial of Independent Media Pioneer Chiranuch Premchaiporn Begins in Thailand

We and many other Internet freedom advocates have been closely watching the prosecution of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the director of a popular alternative Thai news portal. Chiranuch, also known by her online handle Jiew, is being charged for defamation of the Thai royal family, or lèse majesté, under a particularly disquieting set of conditions.

The disturbing part about this case is that Jiew is being prosecuted not because of anything she said, but instead for being the director and webmaster of a news site where pseudonymous visitors submitted comments and posts that the Thai government considered to be inappropriate. Internet freedom advocates have documented how unclear and subjectively interpreted laws, such as those that punish lèse majesté, have been used in recent years to censor political commentary and chill freedom of expression, but what is particularly worrisome in this case is that a mere intermediary could be held liable for lèse majesté thanks to Thailand’s Computer-Related Crime Act.

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – Trial of Independent Media Pioneer Chiranuch Premchaiporn Begins in Thailand. Blame the owner/operator for anonymous comments, sounds like fun.

07 Feb

NYTimes.com – Missing Executive From Google Egypt Released

Wael Ghonim, the Google marketing executive and Egypt revolt hero who disappeared there more than a week ago, was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, according to Google.

via NYTimes.com – Missing Executive From Google Egypt Released. Good to see Egypt released him, what about all the other people who don’t have Google and the world’s attention behind them however?

06 Feb

The San Francisco Chronicle – Google Exec Who Went Missing In Egypt Now A Spokesman For Opposition Group

A Google executive who has gone missing in Egypt has been "symbolically" named the spokesman for an opposition group, in an attempt to free him from being held by Egyptian authorities, CBS News reports.

Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the middle east, flew into Egypt last week to participate in the demonstrations against the government. At some point he went missing, and one of his last tweets ominously read, "we are all ready to die."

The Egyptian government will not comment on whether it has Ghonim or not, but many suspect he is being held.

via The San Francisco Chronicle – Google Exec Who Went Missing In Egypt Now A Spokesman For Opposition Group. Scary times kids. Side note, the url for this article has to be one of the worse I’ve seen in a long time, they need some serious help in designing a decent a url structure.

03 Feb

NYTimes.com – Gangs Hunt Journalists and Rights Workers

Security forces and gangs chanting in favor of the Egyptian government hunted down journalists at their offices and in the hotels where many had taken refuge on Thursday in a widespread and overt campaign of intimidation aimed at suppressing reports from the capital.

By evening, it appeared that none of the major broadcasters were able to provide live footage of Tahrir Square, the epicenter of antigovernment protests. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya television networks said their journalists had been hounded from the street and from the vantage points above the square where cameras had been placed, and both CNN and BBC appeared to be relying only on taped footage of the square.

via NYTimes.com – Gangs Hunt Journalists and Rights Workers. Bad news for any country when journalists aren’t able to freely report.