Posts Tagged ‘online speech’

Free speech roundup

  • Getting together to do a national We’re-Not-The-Enemy-Of-The-People Day might not play to the strengths of an independent press [Jack Shafer; New York Post on why it did join, and L.A. Times on why it didn’t] Kevin Williamson wishes that many in the institutional press were more than just fair-weather friends of free speech values [NRO]
  • ““Racial Ridicule” Is a Crime in Connecticut — and People Are Being Prosecuted” [Eugene Volokh]
  • “Can Fake News Be Regulated?” Federalist Society policy brief video with Thomas Arnold;
  • Once you get past the headline, Adam Liptak’s NYT account of First Amendment differences at the Supreme Court is well done [Roger Pilon]
  • Is Internet freedom failing? [Knight Institute symposium with Jack Goldsmith et al.] How does moderation actually work at leading social media firms? [Kate Klonick, Harvard Law Review]
  • The ABA’s Model Rule 8.4(g), in the name of combating harassment and discrimination, encourages states to regulate many expressions of speech and association by lawyers that have incidental professional implications. The Supreme Court in its recent NIFLA v. Becerra decision cast a shadow on that [Josh Blackman, Scott Greenfield]

“Right to be forgotten” making its way into American courts?

New Jersey court orders Google to take down newsworthy photo Chicago Tribune had run of plaintiff [Eugene Volokh; note that plaintiff subsequently voluntarily dropped the case] And courts can’t order private media outlets to expunge truthful coverage of charges against someone, can they? [Volokh on Houston judge’s order against website of broadcaster KTRK]

New York’s very broad cyberbullying bill 2.0

An earlier cyberbullying bill in New York was struck down by the state’s highest court as in violation of the First Amendment, and now a new version… well, let’s just say that it has free speech problems too, which don’t get conjured away just because a person named in and distressed by speech is a minor [Eugene Volokh, Eric Turkewitz first post with explanatory followup, Scott Greenfield first and second posts, earlier]

Court strikes down overbroad Illinois ban on stalking/cyberstalking

Eugene Volokh:

Illinois “stalking” and “cyber-stalking” statutes criminalize (among other things),

  • “knowingly engag[ing] in [2 more or acts] directed at a specific person,”
  • including “communicat[ing] to or about” a person,
  • when the communicator “knows or should know that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to”
  • “suffer emotional distress,” defined as “significant mental suffering, anxiety or alarm.”

The statute expressly excludes, among other things, “an exercise of the right to free speech or assembly that is otherwise lawful.”

Despite that last exclusion, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the provisions as unconstitutionally broad under the First Amendment. (The Cato Institute and the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project had filed an amicus brief). Shouldn’t Illinois lawmakers have known better? [People v. Relerford]

Bogus-lawsuit “reputation management” scheme comes to grief

After a push from (among others) Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, one elaborate scheme using dummy litigants and deceptively staged court orders to get Google to de-index some articles appears to have been knocked offline. Eugene Volokh and Paul Alan Levy have been among those recently exposing as fraudulent some practitioners of the art known as “libel takedown” or “de-indexing injunctions.” [Dave Lieber/Dallas News, Volokh in September and related on similar schemes here (takedown request against one of Volokh’s own posts) and here (private default judgment cited in request to Google to deindex government documents), earlier here, etc.]

“Ohio political commentators sue over online harassment ban”

The Ohio legislature last summer unanimously enacted, and Gov. John Kasich signed, a law prohibiting “knowingly posting text or audio statements or images on a website ‘for the purpose of abusing… or harassing another person.'” Now plaintiffs of several political stripes have joined in a legal challenge alleging that they or their organizations “‘routinely engage’ in protected speech that ‘may be considered provocative'” and that the law is so vaguely and broadly worded as to subject them to “a credible risk of prosecution.” The suit was initiated by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh with assistance from his First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic. [AP/WHIO]

A last laugh on ADA vs. Berkeley online courses?

Those free online course materials may be gone from the University of California, Berkeley, courtesy of a U.S. Deparment of Justice interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related statutes, but they’re not gone from the Internet: “20,000 Worldclass University Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them” [LBRY] Won’t that infringe on a lot of copyrights? The site claims not: “The vast majority of the lectures are licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows attributed, non-commercial redistribution.” Earlier coverage here, here, here, and here.

As someone put it, it looks as if the internet recognizes ADA litigation as damage and routes around it.

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]