A U.S. judge has ruled that the Chinese search engine Baidu has the right to block pro-democracy works from its query results, dismissing a lawsuit that sought to punish the company for Internet censorship.
The lawsuit against Baidu, originally filed in 2011 by eight activists in New York, claimed that the Chinese search engine had violated U.S. laws on free speech. This was because Baidu had been censoring pro-democracy works on its search engine
for not only its users in China, but also for those accessing the site from New York.
But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled against the activists, and said requiring Baidu to include pro-democracy works in its search results would run afoul of the U.S.'s free speech laws. In his ruling, Furman compared Baidu's
blocking of pro-democracy works to a newspaper's right to exercise editorial control to publish what it wants. In Baidu's case, the company has created a search engine that favors certain political speech.
A group of activists are hoping to appeal a U.S. judge's ruling that treated the censorship on Chinese search engine Baidu as free speech.
In making the ruling, District Judge Jesse Furman equated the censorship to a newspaper exercising its editorial right to publish what it wants. But Stephen Preziosi, lawyer for the eight pro-democracy activists, said in an email Saturday that
the comparison was wrong, and that the court had a fundamental misunderstanding of how search engines work.
The appeal is planned to be filed later this week, Preziosi wrote.
Massachusetts lawmakers have approved a bill targeting those who take photographs of the sexual or other intimate parts of people in public. The bill makes such offences punishable by up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
After the legislation's unanimous approval, state Senate President Therese Murray said:
Women and children should be able to go to public places without feeling that they are not protected by the law.
The bill states that anyone who photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils a person's sexual or intimate parts without consent should face a misdemeanor charge. The crime becomes a felony - punishable by up to five years in prison
and a $10,000 fine - if the accused secretly takes indecent photographs of anyone under the age of 18.
Governor Deval Patrick has already said he will sign the measure into law.
The bill was prompted by the case of Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 after police received complaints that he had used his mobile phone to take photos and videos up the skirts of female passengers on the Boston subway.
The US House Ways and Means Committee released details on in its long-awaited tax reform bill. It is a wide package of measures but includes a kick in the teeth for computer games producers.
The executive summary calls for an improved, permanent R&D tax credit, finally giving American manufacturers the certainty they need to compete against their foreign competition who have long had permanent R&D incentives.
But on page 24 of the same summary that the tax credit is specifically not available for violent video game makers, offering a provision for preventing makers of violent video games from qualifying for the R&D tax credit.
Speaker of the House John Boehner says it is unlikely that the bill will be taken up this legislative session.