Showing 29 posts tagged free speech
Ratings are important on eBay. Lots of buyers use them to assess the quality and reliability of particular sellers, and lots of sellers will go to great lengths to keep perfect or near-perfect ratings.
But an Ohio company named Med Express has shown it’s willing to go further than other sellers: it’s willing to litigate. When Med Express got its first piece of negative feedback, it filed a lawsuit, insisting that the feedback be removed from eBay.
» via ars technica
For the first time ever, Twitter censored a controversial account at the request of local government earlier this week. It was run by neo-Nazis. The ban, which is the first of its kind under a relatively new Twitter policy that gives the company “the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.” As such, the ban is only effective in Germany. The rest of the world is free to follow the bigots.
» via The Atlantic
A California actress who appeared in the infamous “Innocence of Muslims” flick on YouTube is again asking a federal court to remove the anti-Islam footage that has spawned deadly protests and sparked a U.S backlash in the Middle East.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia is now claiming a copyright interest in the film, and says that Google ignored five DMCA takedown notices served on YouTube seeking removal of the film.
The latest development comes days after a Los Angeles County judge refused to take down the film in a previous suit. Garcia argued she was fired from her job, received death threats and was tricked into starring in the “hateful anti-Islamic production.”
» via Wired
California legislators last week sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would prohibit colleges from requiring students to hand over access to their social media accounts, raising the re-emerging question of how much control athletes — who are very much public faces of many universities — should have over personal accounts that nonetheless are visible in the public domain.
The California Senate passed the bill the same week the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville became the latest institutions to take flak on the issue, for requiring athletes to install software that monitors posts on their accounts or forfeit their spot on the team. The Golden State is the second in two months to pass such a bill, after Delaware, which forbade colleges from requesting or requiring login information or software installation, or allowing officials to view content that an athlete has classified as private online. (Both Facebook and Twitter allow users to customize privacy settings.) Maryland’s Senate passed a similar bill that ultimately stalled.
The only content of concern is what the public can see because that is what affects “the brand” of the university and the athlete, the Kentucky athletics spokesman DeWayne Peevy said.
» via Inside Higher Ed
A federal judge issued a final order on Wednesday that directs the University of Cincinnati not to enforce an earlier campus policy on free speech that a student group had protested in a lawsuit. The lawsuit challenged restrictions that had, among other things, limited demonstrations to a small “free speech” area and set conditions on where and when groups could collect signatures on petitions.
» via The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription may be required for some content)
It took guts for the New York Times to publish an op-ed by Tim Wu, the Columbia law professor who coined the phrase “network neutrality,” arguing that the First Amendment doesn’t protect the contents of the New York Times website. A significant amount of the content on the Times website—stock tickers, the “most e-mailed” list, various interactive features—were generated not by human beings, but by computer programs. And, Wu argues, that has constitutional implications:
Protecting a computer’s “speech” is only indirectly related to the purposes of the First Amendment, which is intended to protect actual humans against the evil of state censorship. The First Amendment has wandered far from its purposes when it is recruited to protect commercial automatons from regulatory scrutiny.
OK, I fibbed. The target of Wu’s op-ed was Google and Facebook, not the New York Times. But accepting Wu’s audacious claim that computer-generated content doesn’t deserve First Amendment protection endangers the free speech rights not only of the tech titans, but of every modern media outlet.
No one believes that the output of computer programs, as such, are protected by the First Amendment. It would be ridiculous, for example, to argue that the First Amendment barred the government from regulating a computer that controlled a nuclear power plant. But when a firm is in the business of providing information to the public, that information enjoys First Amendment protection regardless of whether the firm creates the information “by hand,” or using a computer.
» via ars technica
Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend.
In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world’s largest Web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.
“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different,” Dorothy Chou, the search engine’s senior policy analyst, said in a blogpost. “We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.”
» via MSNBC
McChrystal, who formerly led special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and later became a senior American commander in Afghanistan, now teaches a class at Yale’s Grand Strategy Program, where he integrates his military experience with his studies on leadership. In the New York Times, McCyrstal is quoted as saying “the only reason I’m here to teach,” compared with “somebody who’s got a Ph.D., is because I’ve been through it.”
McChrystal must have been through something ominous because, according to Elisabeth Bumiller’s Times article, Yale University imposes restrictions on students who sit in McChrystal’s classes, demanding that they take notes on an “off the record” basis — i.e., not for attribution.
Yale’s extraordinary act seems drastically out of place with notions of academic and intellectual freedom. At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where I teach history, intellectual freedom is fiercely encouraged and protected. In addition, there is also accountability. No matter what I say in my history classes - either about history or my combat experience — cadets are free to tell it to the world, critique it, or reject it privately or publicly. Restrictions on cadets don’t exist even for an instructor with direct ties to the U.S. military.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]