Posts Tagged ‘online speech’

Germany mulls crackdown on social media speech

In the name of combating harms from false reports as well as injury to reputation, the government of Germany is considering imposing a tough legal regime on Facebook and other social media sites. Next year it “will take up a bill that’d let it fine social networks like Facebook $500,000 [per post] for each day they leave a ‘fake news’ post up without deleting it.” Both official and private complainants could finger offending material. The new law would also require social networks to create in-country offices charged with rapid response to takedown demands, and would make the networks responsible for compensation when posts by their individual users were found to have defamed someone. [David Meyer Lindenberg, Fault Lines; Parmy Olson, Forbes]

P.S. If not closely, then at least distantly related: “Ridiculous German Court Ruling Means Linking Online Is Now A Liability” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

Free speech roundup

  • Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention panel discussion on Justice Scalia, originalism, and the First Amendment with Profs. Nadine Strossen, David Forte, Michael McConnell, and David Rabban, moderated by Judge Carlos Bea;
  • Sad day for liberal Netherlands tradition of free political opinion [CNN on conviction of Geert Wilders, leader of prominent political party] More Euro speech-throttling: France mulls ban on anti-abortion websites (only) that “mislead” or “manipulate” [Guardian]
  • Judge grants motions to dismiss, and to strike as SLAPP, the suit in California demanding “R” ratings on films with tobacco use [Greg Herbers, Washington Legal Foundation, earlier here and here, related here and here]
  • “Congress’s rotten idea for fighting anti-Semitism” [Jacob Sullum, New York Post on S. 10, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016]
  • “Lawyer seeks to identify author of three-word ‘horrible’ Google review” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Eugene Volokh]
  • Section 230 vindicated: “Judge Tosses Charges Against Backpage Execs, Tells Kamala Harris To Take It Up With Congress” [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason]
  • Breaking Thursday morning: court allows defamation claims by climate scientist Michael Mann to go forward against several defendants including Rand Simberg of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and columnist Mark Steyn, but throws out claim against National Review editor Rich Lowry over editorial [BuzzFeed, Jonathan Adler, CEI statement quoting CEI’s Sam Kazman and attorney Andrew Grossman]

October 26 roundup

  • Fuller investigation of that “reputation management” ruse of filing dummy court cases with the aim of getting critical web posts taken down [Eugene Volokh and Paul Alan Levy, Levy first and second followups, earlier here and here]
  • “When Civic Participation Means Shaming A Non-Voter’s Kid” [my Cato post about an ill-considered public service announcement]
  • Why America’s regulation problem is so intractable: Fortune magazine cover story [Brian O’Keefe]
  • El Paso benefits from immeasurable advantage over neighboring Juarez, Mexico: rule of law and related American cultural attitudes [Alfredo Corchado, City Journal]
  • Tort litigation in Pennsylvania is at its most intensive in a few counties, and residents pay the price [Peter Cameron, Scranton Times-Tribune, I’m quoted]
  • California AG Kamala Harris orders BackPage execs arrested; Section 230 be damned? [TechDirt]

Free speech roundup

  • “EEOC to Gadsden Flag Lovers: Shut Up or Face Costly Lawsuits” [Hans Bader]
  • Ellen de Generes raises First Amendment defense in suit by real estate agent with joshed-over name [Ronald Collins]
  • Background: in England (generally unlike U.S.), tasteless jokes and online insults have been prosecuted as crime [Guardian on moves there to classify “misogyny” as hate crime]
  • Melania Trump’s defamation suit against U.K.-based Daily Mail is filed in Maryland, also names obscure blogger from that state [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • Tale of ginned-up out-of-state defamation lawsuit meant to aid in “reputation management” takedowns gets even weirder [Paul Alan Levy, earlier]
  • University of Tennessee, a public institution, cites First Amendment in dropping probe of Prof. Glenn Reynolds over controversial tweet [Robert Shibley, FIRE]

North Carolina high court strikes down cyberbullying law

The North Carolina Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional the state’s recently enacted so-called cyberbullying ban [Scott Greenfield] The court noted that the “statute criminalizes posting online ‘private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a minor'” even though “these terms are not defined by the statute.” And the definition urged by the state would restrict a potentially wide range of discussion of “personal… information pertaining to a minor,” at least when proceeding from prohibited “intent to intimidate or torment.”

Earlier, New York’s highest court said the similar law in that state could not pass First Amendment muster. And a Eugene Volokh amicus brief challenges Maryland’s cyberbullying law, which I criticized at the time of its passage three years ago.

Rhode Island attorney general pushes broad ban on hostile social media posts

Someone needs better advice about the First Amendment, and quickly: “Social media posts, sexually explicit or otherwise, that cause someone’s online embarrassment or insult, would become crimes under a set of bills being advanced by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.” One of the bills “would target a wide range of social media activity that makes people ‘feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.'” so long as it had been “made with the intent to cause emotional distress and be expected to cause distress in a ‘reasonable person.'” While previous “cyber-bullying” legislation required a pattern of conduct, “someone could be prosecuted under the new Kilmartin bill for a single post if at least two others pile on with ‘separate non-continuous acts of unconsented contact” with the victim.'” — meaning that the trigger for jail time over speech could be the actions of other persons. [Providence Journal] Two years ago the New York high court struck down an overbroad ban on so-called cyber-bullying.

Crime and punishment roundup

Online speech roundup

  • Allowing suits against Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, et al., for comments made by users of those platforms? A perfectly horrible idea [Ken at Popehat, Robby Soave/Reason, a more judicious view of Section 230]
  • Wipe that true thing: “France says Google must take ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ worldwide” [WSJ/MarketWatch, earlier]
  • MedExpress vs. attorney Paul Alan Levy: “eBay seller who sued over negative feedback dinged $19k in legal fees” [ArsTechnica]
  • Copyright takedown order over random ink blotches [2600]
  • Weight-loss firm Roca Labs, which took aggressive legal approach toward limiting negative commentary about its products, runs into FTC trouble [Adam Steinbaugh, Ken White at Popehat]
  • “California libel retraction statute extended to cover online publications” [Eugene Volokh]
  • “Florida Moving Company Attempting To Sue Its Way Back To Yelp Respectability” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

“The First Annual Tyler Clementi Internet Safety Conference”

Dear New York Law School: Should law schools really take the lead in promoting unconstitutional curbs on online speech? [Scott Greenfield]

Related, at least tangentially: a United Nations report on “cyberviolence” is cartoonishly bad on videogames and pretty much every other subject it touches [Ken White at Popehat]