Do Androids Dream of Electric Free Speech?
Visions of the Future of Copyright, Privacy, and the First Amendment in Science Fiction
, a paper from Communicaton Law and Policy by Texas Christian University's Daxton "Chip" Stewart, we're treated to a wide-ranging overview of the free speech, copyright, privacy and surveillance legal issues raised in science fiction from Frankenstein to my own books. Stewart's paper insightfully weaves together everyone from Ernest Cline to Isaac Asimov and closely analyzes the way that science fictional thought-experiments can inform legal discussions, in a fashion reminiscent of the excellent Law of Superheros.
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A reader writes, "Robert Buckingham, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan since 2009, was fired last Wednesday for critical comments about the university's restructuring plans. When he showed up for work Wednesday morning, two campus security guards escorted him off campus. The university not only fired him as dean, but also stripped Buckingham of his tenured faculty position. The termination letter signed by Provost and VP Academic Brett Fairbairn said that by speaking out against the school's restructuring plans, Buckingham had 'demonstrated egregious conduct and insubordination' and was in breach of contract."
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When James Clapper banned intelligence agency employees from discussing or acknowledging the existence of leaked docs (including the Snowden docs), he made life very hard for university professors like Matt Blaze, a security expert whose classes often have students with security clearance.
My own books -- which deal with leaks like these -- are taught at West Point at a course whose instructors include a member of US Cyber Command. I imagine a rule like this would make future inclusion on the curriculum difficult, if not impossible.
Michael Abberton, a Green Party activist in Cambridgeshire, was visited by two police officers on Saturday who had been sent by a local councilor from Ukip (a party that lets you express your xenophobia, racism, sexism and homophobia by cloaking it in a respectable "concern about immigration") who objected to a tweet that enumerated some of Ukip's most extreme positions. The police told him that they he wasn't legally obliged to follow their command, and also told him he wasn't allowed to tweet about their visit, but that he wasn't legally obliged to obey that command either. After the police left, a Ukip supporter sent Abberton a threatening tweet that implied that he knew that he'd been visited by the police.
Ukip, standing up for traditional British values, like censorship.
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A murder of Congresscritters and Senators have told Internet ad-brokers that they expect them to behave as though SOPA passed into law (instead of suffering hideous, total defeat); they want the companies to establish a secret, unaccountable blacklist of "pirate" sites. The group comprises Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch. This isn't just a terrible idea, it's also an obviously illegal antitrust violation, as Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out:
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Molly Crabapple and some of her associates have donated a wide selection of art to be auctioned off to benefit the Pen American Center, the US arm of a charitable organization that campaigns for free speech and advocates on behalf of writers whose persons and works are threatened by censorship. (Thanks, Lauren!)
Jaimie sez, "My bookstore helped a high school student distribute almost 300 free copies
of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, a book that has been challenged and removed from the Meridian (Idaho) School District curriculum
Funds were raised by two Washington students.
" They're going to give away another 350 copies that the publisher donated next week. Go kids! (Thanks, Jamie!
Alan sez, "According to various media reports (e.g. BBC) the technology subreddit has scrubbed its moderator team after users discovered that the sub was holding a secret censorship list of banned words that included 'National Security Agency', 'GCHQ', 'Anonymous', 'anti-piracy', 'Bitcoin', 'Snowden', 'net neutrality', 'EU Court', 'startup' and 'Assange'.
On its face, this looks like a list of politicized terms, and blocking them looks like a highly political and partisan act -- for example, by blocking "net neutrality," then stories that are critical of network discrimination would be blocked, while straight news stories that overwhelmingly quoted corporate spokespeople using uncritical terms would make the front door.
More charitably, it may have been the act of overworked (and ultimately irresponsible) moderators to simply ban hot-button topics altogether.
Here's the Reddit post that outed /r/technology's moderators.
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Jim Killock from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "Recently the British Government, with the help of conservative religious lobby groups, has persuaded ISPs to introduce an internet filter across the UK. Open Rights Group needs your help to challenge this. We want to make people aware that filters don't work, are dangerous for internet freedom and could give parents a false sense of security when it comes to their children's use of the internet.
"To get this message across we want to produce a high-quality, funny film that will re-start the debate about why filters are a bad idea. It will cost us £12,000 to get this campaign off the ground. We need to show people that filters censor the internet. Most of all, we need to tell politicians like Claire Perry that they have to stop blaming the internet for society's problems.
"Filters don't work. Help us to fight them."
Internet filters are a weak spot in the UK government's expanding censorship programme, and ripe for disruption through pointed satire. I contributed.
Stop UK Internet Censorship
(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and volunteer on its advisory board)
Australia's far-right crybaby government is so terrified of civil servants criticizing its policies that it has ordered government employees to snitch on any colleagues who breathe an unhappy word about the politicians of the day online, even if the criticism is anonymous, because it is "unprofessional." Civil servants are also banned from editing Wikipedia in ways that make politicians and their policies look bad.
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Microsoft's internal network has begun censoring Torrentfreak
, an excellent investigative journalism site that reports on file-sharing, censorship, copyright and Internet regulation around the world. Torrentfreak, which does not host or link to infringing files, is identified as a "security policy violation" by Microsoft's corporate spyware/censorware, supplied by Edge. Microsoft employees who try to read the site are shown a message that says, "The requested resource has been blocked as an identified risk to your client and the Microsoft corporate network."
Censorship invites abuse. In China, the widespread practice of Internet censorship means that lots of people are authorized to hand down censorship orders and lots more people naturally turn to censorship when something on the Internet bugs them. This week, Chinese authorities prosecuted an "Internet policeman" who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media. He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials. It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.
Lest you think that this problem is uniquely Chinese, consider that when Wikileaks leaked the Great Firewall of Australia's blacklist, we learned that more the half the sites on the list didn't meet the censorship criteria. And when the Danish and Swedish blacklists were analyzed, it emerged that more than 98 percent of the sites blocked did not meet the official criteria for censorship. And in the UK, the national firewall once blocked all of Wikipedia.
China Prosecuted Internet Policeman In Paid Deletion Cases
Here's a great fashion idea for the next Banned Books Week: burned paper fingernails from Glitterfingersss. Basically, you soak newspaper in alcohol, transfer the ink to your nails atop a light nude polish, paint in the burned marks, and add a topcoat.
TUTORIAL | Burned Paper Nails
(via Crazy Abalone)
California Senator Leland Yee has been indicted
, along with 25 others, in an organized crime bust that includes charges of wire fraud and firearms trafficking, as well as accepting bribes for legislative action. Yee is best known for sponsoring legislation
to limit the sale of "violent" video-games to minors, which federal courts declared unconstitutional and struck down. (via /.
The Turkish government has doubled down on its Internet censorship program, blocking all of Youtube in addition to its ban on Twitter. Despite theories about the political theatre of blocking Twitter, it seems like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also genuinely concerned with suppressing a recording of a conversation with his son in which he conspires to hide the money he is thought to have received through corrupt dealing. As with the Twitter block, this one was undertaken as an administrative order from the PM's office, without judicial oversight. The Twitter ban has since been rescinded by the Turkish courts, but the block may not be lifted before the elections.
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