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)]
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:
The United Nations system’s contemplated “takeover of the Internet” may have been shelved, perhaps indefinitely [David Post]
- Coverage of Cato Constitution Day panel on First Amendment with Nadine Strossen, P.J. O’Rourke, Eric Rassbach, Ilya Shapiro [Concurring Opinions] And First-Amendment-oriented articles in the latest Cato Supreme Court Review: Judge David Sentelle on freedom of speech as liberty for all and not just for the organized press, Allen Dickerson on McCutcheon v. FEC, Ilya Shapiro on SBA List v. Driehaus, and Trevor Burrus on protest buffer zones;
- Eric Holder “the worst Attorney General on press freedom issues in a generation, possibly since Richard Nixon’s John Mitchell” [Trevor Timm]
- “7 Things Cracked Got Wrong About Free Speech” [Greg Lukianoff of FIRE, who has a new short book out entitled “Freedom From Speech“]
- As ACLU recognizes, Arizona law purportedly banning revenge porn would do more than that [Masnick, Popehat, Greenfield, Sullum/Reason]
- Critical overview of “media reform” movement led by wildly misnamed pressure group Free Press [Barbara Joanna Lucas, Capital Research Center]
- In lawsuits against Yelp arising from bad reviews, courts have not been impressed by theory that the service extorts reviewed businesses [Paul Alan Levy; a restaurateur upset at Yelp strikes back in a different way]
- Proposal to make scientific misconduct a crime “would seem to raise serious First Amendment problems” [Howard Wasserman]
“If you say anything remotely critical about the Ecuadorian government, you may face a copyright takedown,” wrote Maira Sutton at EFF in May. A Spanish firm that represents the government of Ecuador, Ares Rights, has sent out many such takedown demands, related to media accounts of surveillance, corruption, and the country’s Lago Agrio legal dispute with Chevron. More recently, following growing scrutiny of its own activities, Ares Rights has aimed takedown demands citing supposed copyright infringement against its own critics, including Adam Steinbaugh. Details: Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Ken at Popehat. It has also represented the government of Argentina.
Many organizations and individuals have now filed amicus briefs in the case filed by climate scientist Michael Mann against bloggers, journalists and a think tank (the Competitive Enterprise Institute) that had published or linked to hostile commentary about him. Among them is a brief filed on behalf of the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, Individual Rights Foundation, and Goldwater Institute whose point, as Ilya Shapiro explains, is to “urge the court to stay out of the business of refereeing scientific debates.” Among filers of other briefs just entered: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 26 other organizations, online publishers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and defendant/commentator Mark Steyn. Earlier here, etc. More: Alison Frankel, Reuters.
Unrelatedly, a Maryland judge has ruled in favor of a large group of defendant-bloggers and entered a directed verdict against Brett Kimberlin’s defamation suit; claims he has filed in federal court remain unresolved. Reporter Dave Weigel was there, and tweeted: “Kimberlin says the bloggers will face ‘endless lawsuits for the rest of their lives.'” [Legal Insurrection, Ken White, Popehat; recent background on federal-court side of case from Paul Alan Levy and more, earlier] (Updated to clarify which of the matters Levy was writing about). More: Weigel in the Daily Beast.
“A court has ruled that a Hong Kong tycoon can sue Google over its autocomplete results suggesting he has links to organized crime.” [AP/Mashable]
“…will inevitably be used to protect police and others in power, not…the weak.” [Ken White/Popehat on case of Thomas G. Smith, whose conviction, later overturned, for “disorderly conduct” and “unlawful use of a computerized communication system” was based on an obscenity-filled rant against cops on the Facebook page of the Village of Arena, Wisc. police department]
In the North of England, “South Tyneside Council has abandoned its hunt for notorious blogger Mr Monkey after spending more than £200,000 of taxpayers’ cash.” [Chronicle] The widely read blog had made scurrilous charges against council members and others. “The authority said it had a ‘duty’ to protect staff and councillors against” what it called “cyber-bullying and harassment.” “Councils cannot sue for libel. Any action against the ‘Mr Monkey’ blogger could only be taken by named individuals.” [BBC] More: Daily Mail, Taxpayers Alliance.