Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are quietly circulating a serious threat to your free speech and security online. Their proposal would give the Attorney General the power to unilaterally write new rules for how online platforms and
services must operate in order to rely on Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. The AG could use this power to force tech companies to undermine our secure and private communications.
We must stop this
dangerous proposal before it sees the light of day. Please tell your members of Congress to reject the so-called EARN IT Act.
The Graham-Blumenthal bill would establish a National Commission on Online Child
Exploitation Prevention tasked with recommending best practices for providers of interactive computer services regarding the prevention of online child exploitation conduct. But the Attorney General would have the power to override the Commission's
recommendations unilaterally. Internet platforms or services that failed to meet the AG's demands could be on the hook for millions of dollars in liability.
It's easy to predict how Attorney General William Barr would use that
power: to break encryption. He's said over and over that he thinks the best practice is to weaken secure messaging systems to give law enforcement access to our private conversations. The Graham-Blumenthal bill would finally give Barr the power to demand
that tech companies obey him or face overwhelming liability from lawsuits based on their users' activities. Such a demand would put encryption providers like WhatsApp and Signal in an awful conundrum: either face the possibility of losing everything in a
single lawsuit or knowingly undermine their own users' security, making all of us more vulnerable to criminals. The law should not pit core values--Internet users' security and expression--against one another.
Graham-Blumenthal bill is anti-speech, anti-security, and anti-innovation. Congress must reject it.
Woody Allen's memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was acquired last week by the publisher Hachette in the US.
The move was quickly condemned by the author's daughter Dylan Farrow, who has alleged that Allen sexually abused her as a child, allegations that
Allen has denied. These allegations have twice been investigated by the authorities but have not led to arrest, charge or prosecution.
Allen's son Ronan Farrow, whose book Catch and Kill --also published by Hachette -- details his investigations
into institutional sexual abuse in the media and Hollywood, also blasted the decision and announced he would no longer work with Hachette.
The Hachette censorship was initiated by Hachette staff in the US who staged a walkout at its New York
offices over the memoir. The publisher then pulled the book, claming that the decision was a difficult one.
Woody Allen's memoir will still be published in France despite its US publisher dropping it, with his French publisher saying that the film
director is not Roman Polanski and that the American situation is not ours.
Offsite Comment: This is the behaviour of censors, not publishers
I do not want to read books that are good for me or that are written by people whose views I always agree with or admire. I am always afraid when a mob, however small and well read, exercises power without any accountability, process
or redress. That frightens me much more than the prospect of Woody Allen's autobiography hitting the bookstores.
Prager University (PragerU) is a right wing group that creates videos explaining a right wing perspective to political issues.
YouTube didn't much care for the content and shunted the videos up a 'restricted mode' back alley.
the censorship in court but have just lost their case. First Amendment rights in the US bans the state from censoring free speech but this protection does not extended to private companies. PragerU had tried to argue that Google has become so integral to
American life that it should be treated like a state institution.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed that YouTube, a Google subsidiary, is a private platform and thus not subject to the First Amendment. In making that
determination, the Court also rejected a plea from a conservative content maker that sued YouTube in hopes that the courts would force it to behave like a public utility.
Headed by conservative radio host Dennis Prager, PragerU alleged in its suit
against YouTube that the video hosting platform violated PragerU's right to free speech when it placed a portion of the nonprofit's clips on Restricted Mode, an optional setting that approximately 1.5 percent of YouTube users select so as not to see
content with mature themes.
Writing for the appeals court, Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown said YouTube was a private forum despite its ubiquity and public accessibility, and hosting videos did not make it a state actor for purposes of the First
1300 complaints were sent to the US TV censors of the FCC about Shakira and J.Lo's Super Bowl halftime show
The Federal Communications Commission received 1,312 complaints from viewers whingeing about the sexy dancing of Shakira and Jennifer
The singers danced on poles, twerked, belly-danced and made more than a few sexually suggestive gestures.
Some of the complaints claimed that their children were exposed to a 'porno' show. Other adults claimed the show encouraged sex
trafficking. And some people were upset that no public warnings were given before the show, which one viewer said was less a musical act than an X-rated strip club performance.
A lot of the complaints included threats about boycotting Pepsi. Well,
not even just Pepsi. People said they planned to also boycott the Super Bowl, its halftime shows and even the entire NFL.
Ever since the Chinese government severely punished the National Basketball Association over a team official's tweet, Americans have awakened to the fact that Beijing is no longer just censoring its own people.
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has
introduced legislation meant to prevent companies from punishing employees who speak out against China or any other foreign government that seeks to use economic weapons to enforce political loyalty.
Called the Preventing Foreign Censorship in
America Act, the legislation is clearly aimed at Beijing, though it isn't limited to China. It would prohibit any companies operating in the United States from firing or retaliating against employees based on their China-related speech. That can include
topics such as Hong Kong, the Uighurs or any of the Chinese government's human rights violations.
The Hunt is a 2019 USA action horror thriller by Craig Zobel. Starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank and Emma Roberts.
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don't know
where they are, or how they got there. They don't know they've been chosen - for a very specific purpose - The Hunt.
The politically charged satire The Hunt, in which elites track and kill deplorables, will now be released after being
pulled last year in the wake of of a string of mass shootings.
According to the Hollywood Reporter , The Hunt's backers will release it in March, having shifted the film from its original release in September last year.
The Hunt is
described as a ultra-violent thriller about a gang of wealthy progressives who try to wipe out a group of assorted individuals who have posted right-wing views online.
The decision to scrap the original release was taken in August 2019 in the wake
of a series of massacres in Ohio, Texas and California
The Hunt is due for release on over 3,000 screens in the US on 13 March. No date has been set for a UK or Australian release.
Note that the pause has given the producers a little time to think
about how to present the the ethics of the film. Before the ban the marketing was neutral about who the good guys are leaving it as a mystery so that prospective cinema goers have to view the movie to find out.The most recent publicity makes it much
clearer that the liberal elites are the bad guys.
Librarians and free speech advocates are fighting back against a proposal in the Missouri House of Representatives that would ban certain books from the state's libraries with the threat of a misdemeanor charges meaning the possibility of jail for
Missouri House Representative Ben Baker introduced the bill, dubbed the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act , in January that calls for the creation of a panel made up of non-library workers who will determine the removal of
age-inappropriate sexual material, from their local branch.
Libraries that don't comply will lose their funding. Library employees providing material deemed inappropriate would be hit with a misdemeanor charge and liable for a $500 fine or a maximum
jail sentence of a year, according to the bill's current language.
The bill is targeted at protecting minors but the impracticality of age verification and making adults only spaces would probably mean that the censored books would end up being banned
Cynthia Dudenhoffer, the president of the Missouri Library Association, said she was shocked when she first heard about the bill and said it was unnecessary. Each of the state's library systems, which account for a total of 365
branches, already have their own protocols in place to determine which materials are allowed for their younger members.
Brief Statement from Josh Fox about The Public Theater cancellation of The Truth Has Changed
For the past week I have been performing my solo show THE TRUTH HAS CHANGED at The Public Theater's Under The Radar Festival.
The remainder of the show's run was cancelled today without notice nor any attempt to communicate clearly the reasons for the cancellation.
THE TRUTH HAS CHANGED is a highly political monologue that addresses
our current crisis of truth and misinformation in this year's highly charged electoral atmosphere. It calls directly for non-violent political revolution and it addresses the connections between big oil, big data and white supremacy. The project is a
clear, straightforward indictment of the politics of misinformation of Donald Trump, Facebook, and the oil industry, and it calls for direct audience reactions to its content. It is a vitally important work of art that nightly standing ovations, strong
reviews, and vibrant public reaction prove needs to be seen. The Public Theater continually put up roadblocks to the show's success and promotion in the run up to the premiere and the staff was openly hostile towards the show in its brief tenure at the
This includes verbal threats, coercion, angry tirades and physical intimidation by festival producers including Mark Russell, Jon Grenay and other Public staff members towards me personally and to members of our team.
These clear violations of the code of conduct of the theater were noted, and we emailed 4 written statements to The Public Theater.. Our complaints were ignored and belittled. In response to acts of aggression towards me, I continually and passionately
pleaded with Mark Russell, Ruth Sternberg and others, saying that we were feeling unsafe and that under present conditions we felt we could not do the show. I was accused of being too emotional, complaining too loudly, and then, without notice they
cancelled the remaining run of the show.
However, are undaunted in our desire to present THE TRUTH HAS CHANGED. We will be running performances of the show at our small rehearsal space in Brooklyn, WOW
HAUS, on Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8pm. We can only fit about 50 people into our space, but we wish to honor all ticket holders for our remaining shows AND ANYONE ELSE who wants to come. Free of charge. We will be looking for theaters to continue
the run of this show immediately.
We reserve the right to legal action against The Public Theater and the Under The Radar Staff for their actions.
The US Army has banned the use of popular Chinese social media video app TikTok, with Military.com first reporting it was due to security concerns. The US Navy have followed suit.
It is considered a cyber threat, a US Army spokesperson told
Military.com . We do not allow it on government phones.
The ban comes in the wake of Democrat Senator Charles Schumer and Republican Senator Tom Cotton writing a letter to US Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire insisting an
investigation into TikTok would be necessary to determine whether the Chinese-owned social media video app poses a risk to national security.
Given these concerns, we ask that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national
security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the US and brief Congress on these findings, the letter said.
A new California law has come into effect that seems to have been inspired by the EU's box ticking nighmare, the GDPR. It give's Californians rights in determining how their data is used by large internet companies.
The law gives consumers the right
to know about the personal data that companies have collected about them, to demand that it be deleted, and to prevent it from being sold to third parties.
Although privacy controls only are required for Californians it seems likely that large
companies will provide the same controls to all Americans.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will only apply to businesses that earn more than $25 million in gross revenue, that collect data on more than 50,000 people, or for which selling
consumer data accounts for more than 50% of revenue.
In early December, Twitter rolled out a privacy center where users can learn more about the company's approach to the CCPA and navigate to a dashboard for customizing the types of info that the
platform is allowed to use for ad targeting. Google has also created a protocol that blocks websites from transmitting data to the company. Facebook, meanwhile, is arguing that it does not need to change anything because it does not technically sell
personal information. Companies must at least set up a webpage and a toll-free phone number for fielding data requests.
The personal data covered by the CCPA includes IP addresses, contact info, internet browsing history, biometrics (like facial
recognition and fingerprint data), race, gender, purchasing behavior, and locations.
Many sections of the law are quite vague and awaiting further clarification in the final draft regulations, which the California attorney general's office is
expected to release later in 2020.