Disgraced ex-cop's bullshit libel case has nearly destroyed the newspaper that outed him for sexual predation of teen girls

In 2017, Carroll, Iowa police officer Jacob Smith resigned from the force after a disciplinary investigation regarding sexual encounters between Smith and teenaged girls. Read the rest

New Hampshire court to patent troll: it's not libel when someone calls you a "patent troll"

New Hampshire's Supreme Court has ruled that calling someone a "patent troll" is not defamatory because "patent troll" is a statement of opinion and can neither be factually proved nor disproved. Read the rest

Three California Nazis sentenced to prison for their participation in the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally

Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis, and Thomas Gillen, members of the California Nazi group "Rise Above Movement (RAM)" have been given prison sentences by a Virginia court for their participation in the 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally; United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said, "They were not interested in peaceful protest or lawful First Amendment expression; instead, they intended to provoke and engage in street battles with those that they perceived as their enemies." All pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to riot. (Thanks, Kathy Padilla!) Read the rest

Mississippi makes it a jailable offense to call plant-based or cultured-meat patties "burgers"

FDA (totally not in thrall to Big Dairy): we're going to ban calling almond milk "milk"; Missouri State legislature (totally not in thrall to Big Ag): hold my beer. Read the rest

Speech Police: vital, critical look at the drive to force Big Tech to control who may speak and what they may say

David Kaye (previously) has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2014 -- a critical half-decade in the evolution of free speech both online and offline; in Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet a new, short book from Columbia Special Reports, Kaye provides a snapshot of the global state of play for expression, as governments, platforms, and activists act out of a mix of both noble and corrupt motives to control online discourse. Read the rest

The platforms suck at content moderation and demanding they do more won't make them better at it -- but there ARE concrete ways to improve moderation

Concentration in the tech sector has left us with just a few gigantic online platforms, and they have turned into playgrounds for some of the worst people on earth: Nazis, misogynists, grifters, ultranationalists, trolls, genocidal mobs and more. The platforms are so big and their moderation policies are so screwed up, and their use of "engagement" algorithms to increase pageviews, that it's making many of us choose between having a social life with the people we care about and being tormented by awful people. Even if you opt out of social media, you can't opt out of being terrorized by psychopathic trolls who have been poisoned by Alex Jones and the like. Read the rest

Owner of civil war reenactment business sues school district that canceled field trips after his far-right social media came to light

Riley's Farm is a staple of Los Angeles overnight school trips (my daughter visited last year with her elementary school); it's an apple farm with a pick-your-own apples sideline that branched out into civil war re-enactments, with some students staying overnight in tents. Read the rest

Court strikes down Iowa's unconstitutional ag-gag law

"Ag-gag" laws -- which ban the collection of evidence of wrongdoing on farms, from animal cruelty to food-safety violations -- are a sterling example of how monopolism perpetuates itself by taking over the political process. Read the rest

Arizona's kick-ass new bisexual Senator took her oath on the US Constitution, administered by cringing, homophobic Dominionist Mike Pence

Last week, incoming Senator Kyrsten Sinema [D-AZ] was sworn in by Mike Pence, in his aspect as President of the Senate, choosing to take her oath on a book containing both the Constitutions of the United States of America and Arizona, a tome repeating the framers' prohibition on the US government's establishment a state religion or discrimination on the basis of faith or lack thereof. Read the rest

Congressional Democrats' first bill aims to end gerrymandering, increase voter registration and rein in campaign finance

HR1, the first bill that the new Democratic House of Representatives will vote on, is omnibus legislation that takes on some of the most pervasive scourges of representative democracy: vote suppression, oligarchic campaign financing and gerrymandering. Read the rest

The Ghastlygun Tinies: MAD's Edward Gorey satire that takes aim at school shootings

Edward Gorey's "Gashlycrumb Tinies" is a much-beloved, macabre illustrated children's book that is a favorite of remixers of all kinds; but Mad Magazine's Ghastlygun Tinies dials up the "trenchant" knob to 11. Read the rest

Nation Park Service on the verge of blocking most White House protests: comments due by MONDAY!

Monday is the end of the comment period for a sweeping National Park Service proposal that will have a dramatic effect on the ability of Americans to protest in sight of their government. Read the rest

Not just Europe: EU Copyright Directive will censor the world's internet

The EU's catastrophic new Copyright Directive is steamrollering towards completion, and that should worry every internet user, not just those in the EU. Read the rest

Tomorrow: come to our University of Chicago seminar on Renaissance censorship and internet censorship

Ada Palmer is a University of Chicago Renaissance historian (and so much more: librettist, science fiction novelist, and all-round polymath); she has convened a series of seminars at the University in collaboration with science and piracy historian Adrian Johns, and me! Read the rest

Antivirus maker Sentinelone uses copyright claims to censor video of security research that revealed defects in its products

At this week's B-Sides Manchester security conference, James Williams gave a talk called "Next-gen AV vs my shitty code," in which he systematically revealed the dramatic shortcomings of anti-virus products that people pay good money for and trust to keep them safe -- making a strong case that these companies were selling defective goods. Read the rest

Disney (yes, Disney) declares war on "overzealous copyright holders"

Disney is being sued by the Michael Jackson estate for using fair-use clips in a biopic called "The Last Days of Michael Jackson" -- in its brief, the company decries "overzealous copyright holders" whose unwillingness to consider fair use harms "the right of free speech under the First Amendment." Read the rest

To rescue journalism, journalists must collaborate to defend free expression, not merely condemning Trump

Dan Gillmor (previously) writes that journalism is at a crisis point, as authoritarian politicians (including, but not limited to, Trump) step up their attacks on the free press, even assassinating their sharpest critics. Read the rest

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