Code Pink activist laughed at Jeff Sessions, now faces a year in prison

Desiree Fairooz is a Code Pink activist who attended the confirmation hearing for former Senator Jefferson Sessions, in which he was approved as Attorney General for the USA; when Sessions' colleague Senator Richard Shelby claimed that Sessions' record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented," she burst out laughing and was arrested for disorderly conduct. Read the rest

In America, "proximity and shared values" is all it takes to turn protesters into felons

On inauguration day, 214 protesters were arrested in DC on felony riot charges, and now they face up to $25,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison, though no one -- not the cops, not the prosecutors -- believes that more than a handful were involved in property damage or disorderly conduct. Read the rest

How Netflix is driving permanent, terrible, standards-defined insecurity for billions of browser users

The New Scientist has published a good piece on Encrypted Media Extensions (previously), the World Wide Web Consortium's proposed standard for adding DRM to video streams; they're creating their first-ever standard that is encompassed by laws protecting DRM (such as the DMCA), and in so doing, they're creating new liability for security researchers, who'll face unprecedented criminal and civil liability just for reporting defects in browsers. Read the rest

Prison sentence for Spanish woman who tweeted jokes about the assassination of Franco's fascist successor

Julio writes, "A Spanish woman was sentenced yesterday for tweeting jokes about the 1973 assassination of Carrero Blanco (the appointed successor or General Franco). She was 16 at the time of her tweeting." Read the rest

How the EU's imaginary "value gap" would kill user-generated content online

One of the music industry's dumbest, most pernicious talking-points is the "value gap" (AKA the "value recognition right") which is code for, "Online platforms should employ an army of copyright lawyers to assess everything that users share for copyright compliance." Read the rest

Hong Kong bookseller: I was forced to confess on China TV

Lam Wing Kee, one of the dissident Hong Kong booksellers who was kidnapped to the mainland by Chinese spies, only to surface on TV confessing to "illegal trading," now says he was forced into the confession. (Image: BBC) Read the rest

Texas: prisoners whose families maintain their social media presence face 45 days in solitary

According to a new offender manual from Texas Department of Criminal Justice, prisoners whose families maintain a social media presence to call attention to their incarceration will be liable to harsh punishment, including up to 45 days in solitary, loss of privileges, and extra work duty. Read the rest

A cashless society as a tool for censorship and social control

The Atlantic had the excellent idea of commissioning Sarah Jeong, one of the most astute technology commentators on the Internet (previously), to write a series of articles about the social implications of technological change: first up is an excellent, thoughtful, thorough story on the ways that the "cashless society" is being designed to force all transactions through a small number of bottlenecks that states can use to control behavior and censor unpopular political views. Read the rest

Today is your last day to comment on Internet censorship through copyright abuse

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Hey Internet! Ever since SOPA we've all known that copyright laws have a huge impact on the Internet, free speech, innovation, creativity." Read the rest

Donald Trump hires plainclothes security to investigate and interdict protesters

Donald Trump rallies are notoriously violent, as his supporters, security staff and even Secret Service detail beat up protesters and members of the press who get too close to violent incidents (Drumpf himself explicitly encourages his supporters to beat up protesters). Read the rest

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Liberty Annual, 2015 edition

The indispensable Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced the 2015 edition of its always-brilliant Liberty Annual ("ridiculous adult humor for adults"), featuring an all-star comix cast from Art Spiegelman to Vanesa Del Rey. Read the rest

National anti-censorship orgs protest cancellation of Little Brother summer reading program

Last week's news that the principal of Pensacola, FL's Booker T Washington High School had cancelled its One School/One Book summer reading program rather than have his students read my novel Little Brother has alarmed several national anti-censorship organizations, led by the National Coalition Against Censorship. Their open letter to the principal of BTWHS, signed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the American Booksellers Federation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, discusses the legal and moral duty of educators to put challenging material in front of their students.

I'm immensely grateful to these organizations and especially the NCAC for their support, and I really hope that the principal reconsiders his decision and that I can have a chance to discuss the admittedly challenging themes and scenes in Little Brother with his students in the fall. Read the rest

What the hell is going on in Quebec?

(Photo by Philip Miresco)

Quebec is in the throes of mass protests. A prolonged student strike over tuition hikes triggered a law placing broad restrictions on the freedom to protest, and giving the police the power to arbitrarily declare even "approved" protests to be illegal. Over 500 were arrested in a single Montreal protest, after a prolonged and totally unjustifiable kettling incident. Kate McDonnell of the Montreal City Weblog was on that march, and she's graciously written us a piece on the experience:

Downtown Montreal midday Tuesday, thousands upon thousands of people poured into Place des Festivals and the surrounding areas to begin a march. Montrealers march more readily than most Canadians, but this was a special day – the 100th day of the student strike against the tuition increase ordained by the Quebec government under Jean Charest.

Charest has been premier of Quebec since 2003. A Conservative at the federal level, he jumped for the chance when the Quebec Liberal Party needed a new leader. He has nudged the party steadily rightward ever since. In recent years his government has been rocked by multiple charges of corruption and collusion, but it was the party's planned increase in university tuition fees that sparked the real furor in Quebec.

Early 2011, Charest announced his intention to end a tuition freeze with an increase of $325 per year until a university year (two terms) ends up costing $3,793 in 2017. Sporadic protests were held, but the demo of February 17, 2012 was the beginning of daily protests, mostly in the evenings, most peaceful but with occasional outbreaks by "casseurs" breaking windows, throwing rocks and bottles at police, painting things red.

Read the rest