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2015: April-June

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Update: Perhaps banning guns would be more effective though...

US identifies the confederate flag as something to ban as a token action against the Charleston church shootings

Link Here27th June 2015
Full story: US Mass Shootings...Gun lobby vs violent media

Many major U.S. companies are barring sales of Confederate flags, along with goods bearing the insignia, in wake of the deadly rampage at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

eBay banned the flag calling it a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism.

Other big retailers to suspend sales of products with the Confederate battle flag include Amazon, Etsy a popular online seller of hand-made and other craft goods; Sears department stores, Spencer Gifts; Target and Walmart.

Apple joined the ban with Tim Cook saying in a post on Twitter that My thoughts are with the victim's families in SC. Let us honor their lives by eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it.

Apple have banned apps that use the flag but later made an exception for educational or historic uses.



Offsite Article: Hollywood Censors...

Link Here17th June 2015
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
For generations, the movie industry was on the front lines battling censorship. These days, studios prefer Chinese money to free expression.

See article from



Updated: Fast tracking secretive trade deals without Congress review...

US Senate originally votes to block bill enabling the fast track uptake of anti-democratic international treaties, but changes tack after concessions

Link Here 27th May 2015

Opponents of sprawling and secretive international agreements won a significant victory today when U.S. Senators voted to block the advancement of its Fast Track trade bill . The legislation would have allowed massive undemocratic trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to be rushed through to ratification, and legitimized the nontransparent and corporate-dominated negotiations proposing restrictive digital regulations that threaten the Internet and users' rights.

EFF is just one of several hundred organizations organizing to stop Fast Track for TPP and TTIP, and our members alone sent tens of thousands of emails, phone calls, and tweets to lawmakers to come out against this legislation. TPP proponents needed 60 votes to proceed with a debate on Fast Track and came up short by only eight. That single-digit shortfall shows why it was so crucial that we all flooded our representatives with messages that Internet regulations do not belong in these backroom deals.

Today is not the end of the Fast Track fight. Despite the huge blow to their efforts, TPP and TTIP proponents will not back down easily. President Obama has already blasted his mailing lists to try and win more support for the next big push to pass the bill. It's likely a new version would still fall far short of addressing the secrecy of negotiations. But we can come away from this news empowered and energized because it's a clear sign that we're succeeding at convincing Congress to come out against these international corporate deals.

Update: U-turn

15th May 2015. See  article from

The U.S. Senate advanced the Fast Track bill today in a rushed vote following a slew of concessions made to swing Democrats who had voted to block it earlier this week . The setback on Tuesday could have forced proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and other secretive, anti-user trade agreements to go back to the drawing board to come up with a new bill. Unfortunately, Senate leaders were able to get around this impasse within 48 hours by agreeing to let Democrats vote on some other trade-enforcement measures first before holding the vote on Fast Track.

Now the Senate will go on to debate and vote on the bill, likely within the coming week--essentially putting this legislation on its own fast track to congressional approval. We have little confidence that the Senate would improve the bill enough to ever remedy the nontransparent, corporate-dominated process of trade negotiations. This is why we need to turn our attention to representatives.

There is a better chance that Fast Track can be stopped in the House , where proportionally more lawmakers have expressed their opposition to the bill than in the Senate. But much of the representatives' resistance is based on labor, environment, and currency manipulation concerns, and not on the provisions that would impact users' rights. The White House and other proponents of TPP may be willing to make some weak compromises on those non-tech issues, but they will likely do nothing to address the restrictive digital regulations that will come with these trade deals, nor even fix the secrecy that have led to these bad terms.

Update: U-turn

27th May 2015. See  article from

The Senate passed a bill Friday night to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the Fast Track to approval . Its passage followed a series of stops and starts --an indication that this legislation was nearly too rife with controversy to pass. But after a series of deals and calls from corporate executives , senators ultimately swallowed their criticism and accepted the measure. If this bill ends up passing both chambers of Congress, that means the White House can rush the TPP through to congressional ratification, with lawmakers unable to fully debate or even amend agreements that have been negotiated entirely in secret. On the plus side, all of these delays in the Senate has led other TPP partners to delay any further negotiations on the trade agreement until Fast Track is approved by Congress.

So the fight now starts in the House, where proponents of secret trade deals still lack the votes to pass the bill. But the White House and other TPP proponents are fiercely determined to garner enough support among representatives to pass the bill, in order to give themselves almost unilateral power to enact extreme digital regulations in secret. We cannot let that happen.

In the House, we still have a chance to block the passage of Fast Track. That's why we are asking people in the U.S. to meet with their representatives and staff to nudge them to make the right decision.

See US campaign against TPP from



Update: Snoop On...

US unsurprisingly cannot give up on mass surveillance

Link Here23rd May 2015
Full story: The Edward Snowden Revelations...Internet Snooping in the US revealed
The US Senate has unsurprisingly blocked a bill that would have ended the bulk collection of Americans' phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The White House has pressed the Senate to back the a bill passed by the House of Representatives - the Freedom Act - which would end bulk collection of domestic phone records. These records would remain with telephone companies subject to a case-by-case review. The 57-42 Senate vote fell short of the 60-vote threshold.

Another vote held over a two-month extension to the existing programmes - Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act - also failed to reach the threshold. Senators are to meet again on 31 May - a day before the bill is due to expire.



Update: No bit part censorship...

US Appeals court unbans YouTube video, Innocence of Muslims

Link Here22nd May 2015
Full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie

A US appeals court has overturned a controversial ruling that required YouTube to take down a video that disparaged Muslims.

One of the actresses in the film sued to take it down and won, but an appeals court has now ruled she didn't have the right to control the film's distribution.

A segment of the film titled Innocence of Muslims was released in 2012. Muslims in the Middle East responded with violent protests and death threats were made to the actors.

The latest court ruling said the order to take the movie down was unwarranted and incorrect and continued:

The appeal teaches a simple lesson -- a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship.

Google, which owns YouTube, argued that allowing someone with a bit part in a movie to suppress the final product could set a dangerous precedent that could give anyone involved in a production the right to stop its release.



Propaganda and censorship...

US government TV censors sensitive to Islamic State still being able to operate openly

Link Here18th May 2015
The footage of Islamic State vehicles rolling through cities in broad daylight is old, say senior Obama administration officials from the State Department and the Pentagon, and networks should stop playing it.

Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the State Department said:

We are urging broadcasters to avoid using the familiar B-roll that we've all seen before, file footage of [Islamic State] convoys operating in broad daylight, moving in large formations with guns out, looking to wreak havoc.

it's inaccurate -- that's no longer how [the Islamic State] moves. A lot of that footage is from last summer before we began tactical strikes.



Modern Art?...

Fox News arrogantly reworks Picasso to modernise his art for the offenceophobic 21st Century

Link Here14th May 2015
  A leading US art critic has blasted Fox News for being sexually sick after the network blurred out the breasts on Pablo Picasso's The Women of Algiers in a report about the masterpiece being sold for a record amount.

The New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz took to Twitter to voice his disapproval, tweeting:

How sexually sick are conservatives & Fox News? They blurred parts of the Picasso painting #SickMinds.

Other Twitter users also labelled the move as bizarre and pathetic .

In the screen grab of the report on Fox News, the nipples of three female figures are blurred out, despite its significance as a major artwork.



Offsite Article: When Does Your Google Search Become a Crime?...

Link Here14th May 2015
US case where a man is prosecuted for conspiracy to kidnap in a fantasy world

See article from



Murderous attempt at censorship fails...

Terrorists shot dead by police after they opened fire on US free speech event

Link Here5th May 2015

Two muslim terrorists  were shot dead after they opened fire with assault rifles at a heavily guarded Texas free speech event featuring caricatures of the religious character Mohammad.

One terrorist was identified as Elton Simpson, under surveillance since 2006 and convicted in 2010 of lying to FBI agents over his desire to join violent jihad in Somalia. The second shooter was identified as Nadir Soofi, a roommate of Simpson.

Police and federal agents had planned security for months ahead of the event organized by American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a free-speech organization that is also described as a hate group, and that paid $10,000 for extra protection.

The AFDI event in Garland was called Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest and offered a $10,000 prize for the best artwork or cartoon depicting the Prophet. The event featured speakers including Geert Wilders, a polarizing Dutch politician and anti-Islamic campaigner.

Offsite Comment: A robust leader from the Guardian about a violent threat to free speech

5th May 2015.  See  Te Guardian view on free speech after the Dallas shootings. The award to Charlie Hebdo is justified from



Offsite Article: The wrong kind of free expression...

Link Here27th April 2015
Full story: Charlie Hebdo...Censored by terrorists
Six PEN Members Decline Gala After Award for Charlie Hebdo

See article from



Offsite Article: Why doesn't the US use YouTube age ratings like the UK?...

Link Here 23rd April 2015
US newspaper eyes the music video age rating scheme initiated in the US

See article from



Offsite Article: Hacking Free Speech...

Link Here23rd April 2015
Chris Dodd outrageously suggests the US government should go after WikiLeaks in some fashion for re-publishing the leaked Sony emails.

See article from



Censorship Order That Threatened Websites and Message Boards Overturned...

Judge overturns order that censored criticism of a copyright troll

Link Here 3rd April 2015

US rights to express opinions online, for instance, to criticize copyright trolls and their demands for money in hopes of scaring them away, are protected by the First Amendment. The Georgia Supreme Court correctly underscored these protections in a ruling late last week about the state's anti-stalking law. The panel overturned a trial judge's astonishing order directing a website owner to remove all statements about a poet and motivational speaker who had a sideline business of demanding thousands of dollars from anyone who posted her prose online, a practice that had sparked plenty of criticism on the web.

The case, Chan v. Ellis, was initiated by Linda Ellis, an author of the motivational poem The Dash, which is freely available on her website. When others repost the poem, Ellis routinely sent copyright infringement notices, offering to settle the legal dispute for $7,500. This earned Ellis notoriety on Matthew Chan's (ELI) a website dedicated to providing information for recipients of settlement demand letters like Ellis' and featuring a message board used to expose alleged copyright trolls and extortion letter schemes. The site included nearly 2,000 posts about Ellis and her settlement demands, from Chan and others.

In February 2013, Ellis filed a petition for a stalking ex parte temporary protective order, claiming that some of the posts amounted to stalking and cyber-bullying. (The message boards have been taken down, so we can't read what the messages actually said.) A Georgia state court held that the online posts constituted contact with the writer tantamount to stalking and ordered removal of all posts about Ellis, not just threatening ones, n an overreaching ruling impeding freedom of expression and ignoring the legal protections afforded to intermediary publishers of web content,

The case was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, where, because of the important free speech concerns, the UCLA First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic and Loyola Law School Prof. Aaron Caplan weighed in on the case on EFF's behalf. We emphasized the free speech issues raised if contact under the state's anti-stalking law was interpreted to include online statements about an individual. The Georgia Supreme Court, in an opinion that mirrored our arguments, ruled that posting criticisms of the poet wasn't the type of contact the anti-stalking law prohibits because the comments were for public consumption and not sent directly to her. T he court said:

That a communication is about a particular person does not mean necessarily that it was directed to a person The publication of commentary directed only to the public generally does not amount to 'contact' under Georgia's anti-stalking law.

While Ellis may not have liked what people said about her, that's not enough to stifle publication of opinions expressed to the general public. As the court ruled, Ellis failed to prove that Chan 'contacted' her without her consent and the trial court erred when it concluded that Chan had stalked Ellis.

EFF has called for a federal statute that would nip this type of claim against commentary on websites and blogs in the bud. A federal anti-SLAPP law would provide bloggers and website owners with a defense against expensive legal threats targeting legitimate online content, enabling them to file a request in court to get the cases dismissed quickly. At least 28 states already have such laws against strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs. A similar law at the federal level would protect bloggers, website owners, and other creators across the nation, and discourage plaintiffs like Ellis from dragging their targets into court.

The Internet has turned into an unrivaled forum for discussion and debate, and people around the world use the Web to share information about people and businesses they don't think are dealing fairly with others. We are pleased the Georgia court recognized this and protected free speech online instead of dangerously expanding the scope of the state's anti-stalking law.

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