A bill was recently introduced to the New York State Senate by Senator Kevin Parker and Brooklyn borough President, Eric Adams, that would require gun license applicants to hand over social media passwords, and 3 years of search history for review by the
State. Regardless of how you feel about gun rights, this is a clear violation of privacy, and a request like this in any context is completely inappropriate, and totally unconstitutional. Background checks are one thing, but the process outlined in this
bill goes way too far. This isn't about gun rights, this is about privacy rights.
The authorities intend to check that all licence applicants are totally politically correct. The relevant text of the bill reads:
In order to ascertain whether any social media account or search engine history of an applicant presents any good cause for the denial of a license, the investigating officer shall, after obtaining the applicant's consent pursuant to subdivision three of
this section, and obtaining any log-in name, password or other means for accessing a personal account, service, or electronic communications device necessary to review such applicant's social media accounts and search engine history, review an
applicant's social media accounts for the previous three years and search engine history for the previous year and investigate an applicant's posts or searches related to:
(i) commonly known profane slurs or biased language used to describe the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person;
(ii) threatening the health or safety of another person;
(iii) an act of terrorism; or
(iv) any other issue deemed necessary by the investigating officer.
For the purposes of this subdivision, "social media accounts" shall only include facebook, snapchat, twitter and instagram, and "search engine" shall only include google, yahoo and bing.
Security experts have long warned that it's extremely dangerous to give your password to anyone, including your local police department. It not only exposes you to unreasonably intrusive analysis, but also exposes private details of
everyone you have ever communicated with with online. If your friend wants to buy a gun does that mean the police should get to read every message you've ever sent them? The best thing we can do is reject these ideas right now to prevent bad privacy
practices from become normalized.
It makes perfect sense to require background checks and other vetting before allowing someone to purchase a weapon, but setting any precedent that allows the government to demand social media
passwords is extremely dangerous. If you care about privacy, and keeping a close eye on overreaching state power, please sign this petition and tell the NY State Senate that you oppose bill S9191.
California is still trying to gag websites from sharing true, publicly available, newsworthy information about actors. While this effort is aimed at the admirable goal of fighting age discrimination in Hollywood, the law unconstitutionally punishes
publishers of truthful, newsworthy information and denies the public important information it needs to fully understand the very problem the state is trying to address. So we have once again filed a friend of the court brief opposing that effort.
The case, IMDB v. Becerra , challenges the constitutionality of California Civil Code section 1798.83.5 , which requires "commercial online entertainment employment services providers" to remove an actor's date of birth or
other age information from their websites upon request. The purported purpose of the law is to prevent age discrimination by the entertainment industry. The law covers any "provider" that "owns, licenses, or otherwise possesses
computerized information, including, but not limited to, age and date of birth information, about individuals employed in the entertainment industry, including television, films, and video games, and that makes the information available to the public or
potential employers." Under the law, IMDb.com, which meets this definition because of its IMDb Pro service, would be required to delete age information from all of its websites, not just its subscription service.
We filed a
brief in the trial court in January 2017, and that court granted IMDb's motion for summary judgment, finding that the law was indeed unconstitutional. The state and the Screen Actors Guild, which intervened in the case to defend the law, appealed the
district court's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. We have now filed an amicus brief with that court. We were once again joined by First Amendment Coalition, Media Law Resource Center, Wikimedia Foundation, and Center for
Democracy and Technology.
As we wrote in our brief, and as we and others urged the California legislature when it was considering the law, the law is clearly unconstitutional. The First Amendment provides very strong protection to
publish truthful information about a matter of public interest. And the rule has extra force when the truthful information is contained in official governmental records, such as a local government's vital records, which contain dates of birth.
This rule, sometimes called the Daily Mail rule after the Supreme Court opinion from which it originates, is an extremely important free speech protection. It gives publishers the confidence to publish important information
even when they know that others want it suppressed. The rule also supports the First Amendment rights of the public to receive newsworthy information.
Our brief emphasizes that although IMDb may have a financial interest in
challenging the law, the public too has a strong interest in this information remaining available. Indeed, if age discrimination in Hollywood is really such a compelling issue, and EFF does not doubt that it is, hiding age information from the public
makes it difficult for people to participate in the debate about alleged age discrimination in Hollywood, form their own opinions, and scrutinize their government's response to it.
Prior to Google's bosses being called in to answer for its policy to silence conservative voices, it has filed a statement to court saying that even if it does discriminate on the basis of political viewpoints. It said:
Not only would it be wrong to compel a private company to guarantee free speech in the way that government censorship is forbidden by the Constitution, but it would also have disastrous practical consequences.
Google argued that the First Amendment appropriately limits the government's ability to censor speech, but applying those limitations to private online platforms would undermine important content regulation. If they are bound by the
same First Amendment rules that apply to the government, YouTube and other service providers would lose much of their ability to protect their users against offensive or objectionable content -- including pornography, hate speech, personal attacks, and
After the recent censorship purge of over 800 independent media outlets on Facebook, the Supreme Court is now hearing a case that could have ramifications for any future attempts at similar purges.
The United States Supreme Court has agreed to take a
case that could change free speech on the Internet. Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, the case that it has agreed to take, will decide if the private operator of a public access network is considered a state actor.
could affect how companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and YouTube are governed. If the Court were to issue a far-reaching ruling it could subject such companies to First Amendment lawsuits and force them to allow a much broader scope of
free speech from its users.
DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez claimed that they were fired from Manhattan Neighborhood Network for speaking critically of the network. And, though the case does not involve the Internet giants, it could create a
ruling that expands the First Amendment beyond the government.
The recent Fosta law in the US forces internet companies to censor anything to do with legal, adult and consensual sex work. It holds them liable for abetting sex traffickers even when they can't possibly distinguish the trafficking from the legal sex
work. The only solution is therefore to ban the use of their platforms for any personal hook ups. So indeed adult sex work websites have been duly cleansed from the US internet.
But now a woman is claiming that Facebook facilitated trafficking when of
course its nigh on impossible for Facebook to detect such use of their networking systems. But of course that's no excuse under the FOSTA.
According to a new lawsuit by an unnamed woman in Houston, Texas, Facebook's morally bankrupt corporate
culture for permitting a sex trafficker to force her into prostitution after beating and raping her. She claims Facebook should be held responsible when a user on the social media platform sexually exploits another Facebook user. The lawsuit says that
Facebook should have warned the woman, who was 15 years old at the time she was victimized, that its platform could be used by sex traffickers to recruit and groom victims, including children.
The lawsuit also names Backpage.com, which according
to a Reuters report , hosted pictures of the woman taken by the man who victimized her after he uploaded them to the site.
The classified advertising site Backpage has already been shut down by federal prosecutors in April of this year.