Posts Tagged ‘online speech’

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]

Pan Am Games: link to us and we’ll sue

“The organizers of the Pan American Games in Toronto…[saw fit to] require that people seek formal permission to link to its website at toronto2015.org.” [The Register] We’ve been here before, and before that, and so on. After only a little press attention, as The Register notes in an update, the organizers quietly changed the website’s terms and conditions to remove the ban.

Free speech roundup

  • March of “cyberbullying” law continues: “New Zealand passes law making it punishable by fine or jail time for “causing emotional distress” on the Internet [The Register]
  • Wisconsin John Doe prosecutors tapped email and text communications of conservative activists, also got bank records [M.D. Kittle, Wisconsin Watchdog]
  • Rare instance where pro-speech, anti-harass groups agree: ICANN shouldn’t zap site-owner privacy [Online Abuse Prevention Initiative via @sarahjeong] More: Cathy Gellis, Popehat;
  • “Researcher Headed To Australian Supreme Court In Attempt To Hold Google Responsible For Posts At Ripoff Reports” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
  • When you vigorously deny an accusation, do you defame the accuser as a liar? [Popehat on Bill Cosby litigation]
  • “They do this because they can.” [Mark Steyn on Preet Bharara’s “prosecutocracy” and the Reason subpoena, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • Remember, badspeak can be evidence of wrongthink: “[London Mayor] Boris Johnson ‘could be breaching sex discrimination laws’ for defending Sir Tim Hunt over sexism row” [Independent]

Free speech roundup

  • Weirdly, Europe is more willing to legislate against pro-ISIS views than openly to argue against them [Nick Cohen]
  • City of Inglewood, Calif. sues for copyright infringement over videos by critic of Mayor Butts [CBS L.A., Volokh, Paul Alan Levy]
  • “Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com” [Ken White/Popehat, Wired, Scott Greenfield]
  • Bans on the singing of sectarian songs, as in the Scotland case mentioned here recently, are perhaps less surprisingly also a part of law in Northern Ireland [Belfast Telegraph, BBC] UK government “now arresting and even jailing people simply for speaking their minds” [Brendan O’Neill]
  • Broad “coalition of free speech, web publishing, and civil liberties advocates” oppose provisions in anti-“trafficking” bill creating criminal liability for classified ad sites; Senate passes bill anyway by 99-0 margin [Elizabeth Nolan Brown; more from Brown on bill (“What, you mean grown women AREN’T being abducted into sex slavery at Hobby Lobby stores in Oklahoma?” — @mattwelch), yet more on trafficking-panic numbers]
  • Group libel laws, though approved in the 1952 case Beauharnais v. Illinois, are now widely regarded as no longer good law, but a Montana prosecutor doesn’t seem aware of that [Volokh] No, let’s not redefine “incitement” so as to allow the banning of more speech [Volokh]
  • Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis, the “true threats on Facebook” case, was speech-protective but minimalist [Ilya Shapiro, Orin Kerr, Ken White, Eugene Volokh]

Indian High Court strikes down speech-throttling law

The law in India still poses a variety of civil and criminal hazards for speech, but Section 66A of the Information Technology Act — which originated as a measure to fight “cyber crimes against women” — was an unconstitutionally vague restraint on speech, according to the nation’s Supreme Court. [Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Times of India and more (police still have other legal provisions available against “offensive” speech on social media)]

Owner sues customer over negative reviews of dog obedience business

Jennifer Ujimori posted negative reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List after being dissatisfied with her experience with a Burke, Va. dog obedience class. Now the owner is suing her for damages. [Washington Post] Unlike D.C., Maryland and more than half the states, Virginia has not enacted a law (sometimes labeled “anti-SLAPP” statutes) that “allow for the quick dismissal of cases a judge deems to be targeting First Amendment rights.” I’m scheduled to be a guest on Washington, D.C.’s Fox 5 (WTTG) to discuss the case around 8:30 this morning (Friday).

Update: here’s the clip: