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Mark Zuckerberg is delivering a free speech manifesto tomorrow – The Verge

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will deliver an unfiltered take on freedom of speech tomorrow via live Facebook video. Ive been writing a speech about my views on voice and free expression that Im giving tomorrow, Zuckerberg wrote. Its the most comprehensive take Ive written about my views, why I believe voice is important, how giving people voice and bringing people together go hand in hand, how me might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world.

The speech will be delivered tomorrow at 1PM ET, and Zuckerberg calls it an unfiltered take on how I think about these questions, based on years of thinking about speech issues. Also, its apparently very long.

Zuckerberg has delivered plenty of lengthy philosophical musings about Facebook, but hes generally published them as blog posts, not delivered them as live speeches. This announcement comes a couple of weeks after he unexpectedly live-streamed an internal Q&A session, following the publication of an earlier sessions audio by The Verge. Its also taking place during an extended fight over Facebooks role in political misinformation.

Zuckerberg has recently sparred with senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren over Facebooks decision to exempt politicians from fact-checking. Earlier this week, he also defended his choice to hold off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists and commentators, widely seen as an attempt to protect Facebook from the Trump administration.

The reference to major threats to free expression around the world, meanwhile, may involve the mainland Chinese governments crackdown on protests in Hong Kong which has put pressure on major tech and media companies to participate in censorship.

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Mark Zuckerberg is delivering a free speech manifesto tomorrow - The Verge

The government is becoming too intrusive in regulating free speech on campuses (opinion) – Inside Higher Ed

The federal government has shown a growing interest in campus speech, taking steps to manage administrative and curricular aspects of the work campuses do. Those mounting efforts to regulate speech at colleges and universities are a threat to academic freedom, and it is time for higher education to push back.

The U.S. Department of Justice, for example, filed a statement of interest last year, backing a lawsuit against the use of bias response team by the University of Michigan. The department agreed with the plaintiffs, Speech First, that the universitys rules probably inhibited free speech.

A federal appeals court also ruled last month that by operating a bias response team, the university might be undermining open expression. In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit determined that the powers of the bias response team -- an increasingly common tool used by colleges and universities to address concerns about prejudiced and harassing speech -- objectively chill speech.

In my work on campus free speech, I have raised concerned about bias response teams. Such teams are basically administrative committees that can respond to concerns about bias through voluntary discussions with the parties involved -- and referrals to others if they determine that the conduct in question was against the law or university policy. Administrators can use them to chill speech in ways that are unjustified, and thus create an environment on their campus thats not conducive to open inquiry and effective teaching. That can happen if students and professors constantly have to worry that they might be penalized for their words or ideas.

But the court overreaches in its conclusions, given that no evidence suggests that these voluntary processes are, in fact, chilling speech. The price to speech seems to be low or nonexistent, whereas the gain to the conversation on campuses can be significant, in that more students and faculty members will feel confident in participating and have a way to raise concerns when bias and prejudice limit such participation.

Even more concerning is the Justice Departments interest in the case. Colleges and universities must have the flexibility to deal with matters of conduct without the government looking over their shoulders.

To learn well, students must be exposed to a diverse array of perspectives, and they must do so over time and within a context that supports the expression of dissenting views. The protection of open expression is key to the work that colleges and universities do. So is the protection of a real opportunity for each member of the learning community to try out their views out loud, to consider different perspectives and to share and receive criticism.

Bias response teams can help in the maintenance of a constructive learning environment, depending on how they function. If they are open to students in raising concerns and are built to encourage and mediate a dialogue about those concerns rather than serve as a punitive mechanism, they can contribute to an open atmosphere of research and teaching. The needs of different campuses will be different in this regard, and we will surely make mistakes in the process of establishing them where we choose to do so. But, ultimately, they can serve an important purpose.

Meanwhile, in a similar vein as the Justice Departments filing, the U.S. Department of Education recently accused the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies of an alleged lack of balance in its programming, suggesting that it is treating Islam favorably compared to religious minority groups in the Middle East. The Education Department asserted that the conferences and activities the consortium hosts have failed to promote U.S. national security and economic stability -- key goals of TitleIV, which helps fund the program.

TitleIV programs are good contexts for learning about diverse perspectives, languages and cultures. The governments attempt to regulate the content so that it fits with an ideological vision represents a breach of the needed barrier between regulators and experts. That barrier has been breached before, of course, notably by legislators in Wisconsin and in other states that have looked into syllabi and criticized professors for the contents of their classes. (The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents last week also continued its regrettable and possibly unconstitutional march toward limiting student protest in the name of protecting free speech.)

Such regulatory intrusions by different arms of the federal government, along with recent legislation in various states that curtail student protests and forbid the expression of specific political views, should raise alarms in the higher education sector. Under the guise of protecting speech and defending viewpoint diversity, the government is promoting a political ideology -- an effort that people of all political stripes who are committed to academic freedom should reject. Colleges and universities are institutions where research and teaching take place, both of which, in different ways, are based on shared norms and practices that should not be subject to extensive regulatory tinkering.

Along with the Department of Justice renewal of the investigation against Rutgers University for discrimination against Jewish students, a pattern emerges: one that undermines the autonomy and authority of institutions of higher learning and replaces them with a bureaucratic effort to promote specific views.

Free speech, a necessary condition for learning and expanding knowledge, is hampered when politicians police colleges and universities. Of course, higher education institutions sometimes get things wrong -- including in the structure or language of policies related to bias response teams, or with specific programming or syllabus decisions. But even then, legislative limitations and threats to cut funding unless ideological obedience is ensured are the wrong way to go.

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The government is becoming too intrusive in regulating free speech on campuses (opinion) - Inside Higher Ed

Colleges Are Spreading Trump’s Disingenuous Notion of ‘Free Speech’ – The Nation

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Last week, a Los Angeles jury found not guilty the student activists arrested for heckling Mnuchin during a 2018 talk he gave at UCLA. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

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In February 2018, Tala Deloria and several other young people at the University of CaliforniaLos Angeles protested against Steve Mnuchin, Trumps very wealthy, more-or-less-openly corrupt Treasury secretary, who was due to speak on campus about the US economy.Ad Policy

Deloria, 24, and her fellow activists hadnt planned on going inside the auditoriumthey wanted to protest Mnuchin outside the event space with other activists. But there were seats available, and at the last minute, Deloria and a few others from the local chapter of Refuse Fascism (part of the Revolutionary Communist Party) decided to go in.

She sat in her seat quietly at first, but she couldnt take hearing Mnuchin talk anymore without being challenged. So Deloria began yelling at Mnuchin about the Trump administrations cutting of social programs and detaining of immigrants. UCLAs police force quickly moved in, picked Deloria up under her arms and legs, and dragged her away. Several others began shouting in her stead. They were arrested too, and brought to a holding room for several hours. UCLA banned the protesters from campus for seven days.

Deloria was surprised by the arrest, but thought it was all over after she was releaseduntil six months later, when Los Angeles prosecutors filed a host of charges against her and her fellow protesters, including trespassing, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace. Im pretty furious, Deloria said recently in an interview. Not only because of what happened to me, but because this is part of bludgeoning the right to protest and the right to speak out.

Last week, a Los Angeles jury found all defendants not guilty. But the fact that UCLA arrested the demonstrators and cooperated with prosecutors who pressed charges against themfor peacefully disrupting an event may foretell a grim future for campus politics. Theres no official tally, but this appears to be one of the first instances in which protesters on a college campus were charged for nonviolent, nonthreatening behavior that involved no property destruction or violence but only a simple heated exchange of words. Im angry because the university is at the helm of this, Deloria said. Its gonna affect me, but its also gonna put a chill on speech across the US.

Jerry Kang, UCLAs vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion, said that by arresting the protesters, the university was following its lengthy speech and protest policy document, which guarantees a right to speak and protest, but draws the line at disrupting a speaker.

We want serious critique and conversation, but we want persuasion and not coercion, Kang said in a recent interview. We make very clear that we understand and celebrate protest, we understand the need for people to state their case, its just when the protest becomes so disruptive that its essentially an act of force that silences the speaker from reaching a willing audience, that we cant permit that to happen.Current Issue

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Kang said that the school was not involved in recommending that charges be filed, but that he trusts the system that has the court decide what the appropriate punishment should be. There has to be accountability for your actions, he went on. Civil disobedience has a very rich and important tradition in our country. It helps break down laws that are truly unjust, and I want to recognize that we should celebrate civil disobedience, but civil disobedience has always had consequences.

Refuse Fascism members and their supporters, however, point out that UCLA did not simply remove the protesters from the Mnuchin event. It arrested them, cooperated with prosecutors, and granted Mnuchins request to suppress video of the event. The university also delayed the release of documents related to the event, and only after a year of cajoling from free speech groups and a lawsuit from the free speech advocacy group FIRE did UCLA acquiesce to the public records request.

Theyre saying, Look, folks, this is actually a case of free speech, because the free speech rights of Steve Mnuchin were violated, Deloria said. Theyre weaponizing the First Amendment in order to suppress speech.

Dan Kapelovitz, a lawyer for several of the UCLA protesters, said that the charges filed were extraordinarily rare. Usually, in actual disturbing-the-peace cases, like an annoying neighbor playing loud music, they dont file charges, he said. I think the police have it out for this group. Kapelovitz added that the police used excessive force in their arrest, refused to stop interrogating the protesters when they asked for a lawyer, and did not read them their Miranda rights.

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Though the charges against the protesters were ultimately fruitless, UCLAs tough stance against the demonstrators is part of a worrying trend on college campuses: In the name of free speech, colleges and universities, and the governments that fund them, have instituted anti-protest laws that call for the arrest and even expulsion of protesters if they disrupt a speaker.

Over the past three years, the conservative Goldwater Institute has been working to pass variations of model legislation that would prevent schools from disinviting speakers, require the establishment of disciplinary policies for disruptions, and require universities to pay court and legal fees for anyone who is disrupted on campus. The Goldwater Institute has close ties to ALEC, the think tank notorious for pushing through dozens of business-friendly, far-right bills at the local, state, and federal level.

At least 17 states have now passed legislation modeled on the Goldwater Institute bill. And perhaps more troubling is the fact that many colleges and universities are either remaining silent on the new policies or actively instituting them without being asked to by their state governments.

In Wisconsin, for example, where the bill stalled in the state Senate, the University of Wisconsin board of regents nonetheless approved its own Goldwateresque policies that mandate that students who disrupt speakers twice be suspended and those who disrupt three times be expelled. The US House and Senate have also introduced similar bills, which would apply to all public universities and colleges.

The model legislationits a disingenuous use of the term free speech, Risa Lieberwitz, general counsel at the American Association of University Professors, said. Theres a very distinct, very conservative agenda. The problem with the laws, Lieberwitz explained, is that they skew the determination of whose right to express themselves matters: The mission of the university is a public mission, and part of that mission is to protect free speech and the right of students and faculty to engage in vigorous and heated debate. That might be very loud, and some might view it as disruptive, but just because of that, doesnt mean the student should be silenced.

In other words, the laws protect mostly conservative speakers invited to campus without considering the rights of those who protest the speakers.

The laws amount to a conservative-backed bait-and-switchusing the universalist language of the First Amendment to push a one-sided agenda, and limit backlash to that agenda. Its becoming a tried-and-true tactic for the far right. In March, President Trump signed an executive order called Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities that encouraged his administration to cut off funding for any institute of higher learning that doesnt create a safe space for campus speakers. Only a few months later, the administration ordered the University of North Carolina and Duke University to change the content of their courses on Middle East studies to include more positive teachings on Judaism and Christianity, or else risk losing funding from the federal government.

Over the past several years, the nonprofit UnKoch My Campus has collected thousands of pages of documents that show the true intent of these laws and policies prohibiting dissent: they are not meant to increase free speech, but are instead part of a larger strategy to turn higher education into a conservative thought and policy factory. The Koch family now funds programs, professorships, and student groups at over 300 colleges and universities, and many of the free speech organizations, that push for restrictive protest policies.

It remains to be seen how many colleges and universities go along with this conservative agenda. So far, there has been little resistance from administrations over the laws. Given that fact, and also that ostensibly liberal institutions like UCLA have begun to punish student protesters, its likely that restrictive speech codes that lead to disciplinary actions, expulsions, and arrests will become more common across the United States.

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The whole free speech movement is tied to billionaires efforts to teach theories that favor their conservative views and their economic model, Jasmine Banks, the executive director of UnKoch My Campus, said. They want to make sure that theres no dissent to their ideas.

Editors note: This article has been corrected to show that prosecutors, not UCLA, pressed charges against the students, and that the FIRE lawsuit was over various public records but not the video of the event itself.

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Colleges Are Spreading Trump's Disingenuous Notion of 'Free Speech' - The Nation

How free is free speech? – The Signal

The U.S. Constitution is easily one of the most important legal documents ever written, governing the most powerful nation in the history of the world. No laws or regulations can ever trump this document. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, are supposed to protect citizens rights from government tyranny.

Or does it?

The First Amendment does not protect a citizens free speech if what they say or write qualifies as blackmail, defamation, libel, slander or obscenity. That begs the question: Why are citizens, specifically students, being punished and censored for speaking their minds on various matters when they fall under none of these categories?

In 2011, the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange denied a group of student protesters an open records request. They asked for things such as donor records and information about their training programs.

Instead of giving them the information, former state Attorney General Sam Olens suggested to WSB-TV that these students request could aid terrorists, an absurd notion that all but silenced student voices regarding the organization until earlier this year.

It got to the point that this same state attorney general even pushed for an amendment to the Georgia Open Records Act, which made it harder for people to access the information they need and made it easier for government agencies and public institutions to reject requests. This has only added to the confusion over the freeness of free speech and the governments role in regulating it.

Indeed, an aura of confusion over free speech leads to much confusion between people. This could be based on ethics, morals or religion. There are people who take advantage of their right to free speech to incite violence and encourage hate, and these are the people who create concern.

For example: the extremist Christians who stand in the designated free speech zones at Georgia State and tell students who pass by that theyre going to hell for their religious background or sexual orientation encourage hate that could lead to violence.

Its understandable that theres some concern surrounding what people are saying and how others will react. But, it is completely baffling that there is an amendment to the Constitution, presumably the highest law in the land, that guarantees free speech for all. For many, their speech is anything but free.

All across the world, we see students, racial and ethnic minorities and political dissidents fighting for what they believe in getting unlawfully silenced by their own governments, many of which have provisions similar to the First Amendment in their own constitutions. It is one of the most basic human rights to be able to speak our minds. Of course, there are negotiated limits, but when what people say is within certain allowed parameters and people still get shut down, that is when things start to become a problem.

Silencing people who speak out against others is nothing new, but that has never mean its right, not then and certainly not now. Being able to express ourselves in every way possible should not be stifled by someones feelings.

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How free is free speech? - The Signal

There is a crisis on campuses but its about racism, not free speech – The Guardian

Have you heard about the crisis on Britains university campuses? Free speech is under assault it seems, with students no-platforming guest speakers because they hurt their feelings. Political correctness is absolutely roiling higher education. Students are vandalising curriculums, forcing their teachers to replace white authors with those of colour, demanding trigger warnings ahead of classes on classic works of literature, and calling for safe spaces to be set up to exclude others for no reason other than their racial background or sexuality. You cant even clap at events any more because student unions think its overwhelming for those with PTSD. The solution? Jazz hands, apparently.

It is likely that some of this is already familiar to you, if not in the detail then in the mood music. There is now a mini-industry within the media, often backed up by unquestioning politicians, based on the idea that Britains universities are going to the dogs. But let me tell you about another crisis that you probably havent heard of. In 2018, it was reported that the number of racist incidents in universities across the UK had surged by more than 60% in the two years preceding. A freedom of information request by the Independent showed a similar rise in the number of religiously motivated hate crimes at universities. Antisemitic or Islamophobic incidents were reported in 26 UK universities. The situation became so dire that the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a public body in England and Wales that promotes and enforces equality and non-discrimination laws in the UK, launched an official inquiry into what seemed to be an epidemic of racism. A Warwick University student discovered racial slurs written on bananas he had stored in a shared kitchen. In 2018, two 18-year-old men were arrested after a Nottingham Trent University student posted video footage of racist chants, including we hate the blacks, outside her bedroom door in her student halls.

In July this year, another freedom of information investigation by the Guardian revealed not only widespread evidence of discrimination in higher education but, according to interviewees, an absolute resistance to facing the scale of racism in British universities. Last week, senior staff at Goldsmiths, University of London, supposedly the wokest of Britains colleges, said that its record of addressing racism was unacceptable after a report found that black and minority ethnic students felt victimised and unsafe.

This disconnect between reality and the myths is not a matter of sloppiness or poor reporting, it is ideological

Incidents tend to receive public attention only when they are circulated on social media. Ayo Olatunji, the black and minority ethnic students officer for University College London, told the Guardian in 2018: We would hear about a case [every] day in the media if everything that happened went online. Instead, we hear about other things.

What has cut through is not the widespread racism and the institutional failure to deal with it, but the PC crisis, evidence of which is sometimes simply made up. In 2017, students wrote an open letter to the faculty of English at Cambridge University requesting that non-white authors be added to the curriculum. Four months later, following precisely zero complaints from fellow students or members of the faculty, the Daily Telegraph published a black female students picture on its front page with the headline Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors. This was not true. Not only had Cambridge not dropped any white authors, the open letter did not make any such request in the first place, nor was the featured student the sole signatory. A day after the story ran, the paper issued a correction on page two.

Between 2015 and 2018, the libertarian website Spiked published Free Speech Rankings of universities, which supposedly showed the extent to which censorship is rife on campuses. But writing in Times Higher Education, the University of Surreys Carl Thompson called the rankings misleading, ill-informed and worryingly influential. He found that about 85% to 90% of Spikeds evidence each year amounts merely to human resources policies and codes of conduct, of a sort now standard in most large organisations and often required by law. That did not stop the Spiked research being widely quoted.

This disconnect between reality and the myths circulating about Britains universities is not a matter of sloppiness or poor reporting, it is ideological. University campuses have always made the establishment nervous, with student bodies easily able to organise around progressive causes. The targeting of these spaces is an old weapon in the culture wars, one that aims to discredit and discourage challenges to the status quo from the left, and from marginalised groups whose entry into the mainstream happens via higher education.

But students have somehow been vandalising academic freedom since at least the 1960s without bringing about a political coup run by ethnic minorities and queer people. The reality is that universities in the UK remain deeply conservative organisations that not only do not coddle students minds, but also fail to protect them against the most basic violations. So I ask you again, have you heard about the real crisis on British campuses?

Nesrine Malik is a Guardian columnist

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There is a crisis on campuses but its about racism, not free speech - The Guardian

Satire or Propaganda? The Free Speech Implications of the Violent Trump Video – WDET

A fake and incredibly violent video emerged over theweekend.

In it, Donald Trump is seen attacking his enemies inside the Church of Fake News including a variety of outlets like NPR, CNN and the Washington Post. As Lynyrd Skynyrds Free Bird plays in the background, Trump in a church massacre scene from the 2014 movie Kingsman shoots, stabs and lights fire to members of the news media along with late Senator John McCain, former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Black Lives Matter movementand Congresswoman Maxine Waters, amongothers.

While this could technically be defined as satire something that is a cornerstone of democracy and freedom of speech it feels downright disturbing to watch this video in a time when the president is openly aggressive in his verbal attacks against these people and organizations, and mass shootings are happeningregularly.

Its also worth noting that this video was shown at a Republican event at one of Trumps resorts inFlorida.

This was one of those instances where you cant help but be angry, says Tim Alberta, POLITICO Magazines chief political correspondent, on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson. POLITICO is one of the news organizations depicted in the video beingkilled.

This is a really tense time in America, and when the President of the United States is regularly deploying violent rhetoric against the media, and he does not immediately come out on camera to denounce [the video], its just disturbing, Albertacontinues.

Experts who study satire and propaganda say that this video could fit into the definition of either of those kinds of speech. They say, although Trump might not be directly responsible for the video, he should still bear some of the moral burden itcreates.

Although the violence in the video was fiction, that kind of violence is not fictional, points out University of Texas Rio Grande Valley associate professor of philosophy Cory Wimberly, the author of an upcoming book called How Propaganda Became PublicRelations.

A lot of it is coded. There are a lot of things we might see when we see the video, but there are also elements of it that are only meant to be understood by its intended audience that are lost on the rest of us, he continues, referencing memes on alt-right and incelinternetforums.

Fred Vultee, a Wayne State University associate professor of journalism who studies satire, says the video might be repugnant, but its still likely constitutionally protectedspeech.

Its hard to me to look at this and think that it poses a direct threat to anyone, says Vultee. I dont think, partly because its been up for 15 months now,that an immediate effect of this is likely. But there might be a more indirect and a more tangentialeffect.

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Satire or Propaganda? The Free Speech Implications of the Violent Trump Video - WDET

We’re asking the wrong question about the campus free speech ‘crisis’ – Washington Examiner

The speech wars are resuming on campus with the new semester. But in the opinion columns, conference panels, and state houses debating the state of free expression on campus, they never abated.

The positions are well staked out. Activists point to the videos of invited speakers shouted down by students who object to what they will say. Skeptics retort that free speech is no more imperiled on college campuses than elsewhere. But this seemingly unending debate misses the point.

Free expression on campus matters not because there is a unique speech crisis on campus, but because universities are uniquely positioned to address broader societal crises. The question isnt whether universities have a problem but how theyre uniquely positioned to solve ours.

There are over 5,000 colleges in the United States, and they arent all the same. But together, they are a critical part of the solution for our growing tribalism and intolerance of other points of view.

More than two-thirds of Americans attend college, and more than 1 in 3 will receive a bachelors degree. As a result, college graduates will disproportionately hold positions of influence in our government and culture. These campuses are where the next generation of teachers, judges, cultural influencers, and community leaders are educated. And college is also the first significant opportunity for many students to experience truly diverse ideas and find ways to resolve differences.

Universities are unique in their mission, their impact and in the centrality of free expression to that end. As a sign prominently displayed over an academic building at my alma mater, the University of Virginia, proclaims: For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. Even assuming we know the truth from an error, allowing error to challenge truth helps to guarantee that the ideas we hold true are not accepted as mere dogma. Truth has nothing to fear. It can only be sharpened by conflict.

So civil liberty advocates are not wrong when they raise concerns about the roughly 90% of universities with speech zones, speech codes, and other formal written policies that, however well-meaning their intent, violate the First Amendment. Not only do these policies require taxpayer expense to defend when enforced, but they signal to students that the state can tell you when and where you can speak and what you can say. If 91% of municipalities suddenly enacted written policies unconstitutionally limiting free expression, it seems doubtful there would be much debate about whether this constitutes a crisis in need of resolving.

But skeptics are also correct to note that the focus on a crisis of campus free speech obscures the fact that university students may be no more supportive of censorship than the general population. Almost 30% of adults say that the First Amendment goes too far in its protections, 25% would give the president power to shutter news media engaged in bad behavior, and 50% of adults say that universities should disinvite speakers who will offend some part of a campus population.

So is the crisis really limited to the campus? Hardly.

The necessity of promoting free expression, and eliminating unconstitutional barriers to it on campus, need not be premised on a demonstrated campus crisis. This framing lowers expectations for what our universities should be, grading free speech on campus on a curve with the rest of our society. Yet, free expression is critical to the achievement of the universitys own mission and universities are not just part of our national culture, they graduate the leaders who shape it.

By eliminating speech zones, speech codes, and similar restrictive policies, universities demonstrate that other students and their ideas are not a threat to be managed but an opportunity for growth to be embraced. Supporting debate and other programs that allow students to engage with and even empathize with others with different views is a critical step in ending the tribalism infecting our society.

These ideas are not new, especially to free-speech advocates. But they should pursue these goals not with the aim of simply protecting the rights of combatants in a speech war, but because they enable universities and their graduates better leaders for our future.

Its time we stop focusing on universities as the problem and start treating them as the needed solution.

Casey Mattox is a senior fellow of free speech and toleration at the Charles Koch Institute.

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We're asking the wrong question about the campus free speech 'crisis' - Washington Examiner

NBA Struggles To Find The Balance Between Free Speech And Chinas Sensitivities – Deadline

CNNs Christina Macfarlane was cut off at a Japan press conference after an exhibition game between the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. The Rockets have been at the center of a dispute that started when one of its executives, general manager Daryl Morey, tweeted support for the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Macfarlane attempted to ask Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook whether they would feel comfortable speaking out on political and social issues in the future after the uproar from China in reaction to Morey and the events of this week. The unidentified Rockets media relations person stopped them from answering even though Harden appeared ready to respond saying that basketball questions only were the only permissible path.

The incident was yet another stain on the leagues effort to find a balance between placating China and avoiding further outraging those who feel the league has been somewhat mealy-mouthed in its defense of free speech. Tim Frank, an NBA senior VP, later called CNNs Macfarlane to apologize, according to several reports. You can bet the question will be asked again, if not by CNN, then by others.

Despite its attempts to squelch uncomfortable questions on China, the NBA and its Chinese partners face an uphill battle to mend fences on multiple fronts. So far, NBA merchandise has been stripped from Chinese stores, banners touting NBA exhibitions have been taken down, plans to televise and stream games have been halted, and advertising and sponsorships placed on hold. Chinas social media has also voiced its outrage at perceived interference in its domestic problems.

Reports indicate China currently contributes 10% of the NBAs revenue, and represents (or represented) a growing and coveted market. Now, thats in limbo.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets (owned by Hong Kong resident and Alibaba founder Joe Tsai) played a game Thursday in Shanghai. But the only people who saw it were ticket-holders, and outside the arena, protesters denounced the NBA. Things were so bad that former Houston Rockets star and Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who helped the NBA build a bridge to China and stoked his countrys enthusiasm for the game, skipped an appearance. Ming is the president of the Chinese Basketball Association and a key to ongoing partnerships.

In the US, NBA Commissioner Adam Silvers lukewarm defense of free speech has won him little support. No less than President Trump noted that the league, which has shunned the White House and been outspoken in its opposition to many aspects of his administration, had no problem previously speaking up. He particularly targeted Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who refused to answer a question on China.

He couldnt answer the question he was shaking, Oh, oh, oh, I dont know. I dont know,' Trump said. He didnt know how to answer the question, and yet hell talk about the United States very badly. Trump also had words for San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.I watched Popovich sort of the same thing, but he didnt look quite as scared actually, Trump said. But they talk badly about the United States, but when it talks about China, they dont want to say anything bad. I thought it was pretty sad, actually. Itll be very interesting.

Now, the question centers on how the league can move forward. Prominent game ambassadors like LeBron James, who makes annual trips to China, have yet to make a statement. Will they continue to remain silent? And how will they respond to charges of hypocrisy if they speak out on US domestic problems, but refuse to address China and its human rights issues?

Other businesses beyond the NBA will also be affected. Television and streaming deals, sneaker and apparel sales, transportation companies and marketing/advertising programs will all take an economic hit if the free speech issues continue to simmer.

Its only the first quarter of this particular game, and theres a long season to come. Hollywood already deals with Chinas sensitivities in marketing its products. The NBA will provide yet another test case of how to navigate a global community filled with differing opinions. So far, its shots arent falling.

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NBA Struggles To Find The Balance Between Free Speech And Chinas Sensitivities - Deadline

China isnt the only country trying to stifle our free speech – The Boston Globe

You might have thought I was going after China, which is using its economic might to punish the National Basketball Association, just because the general manager of the Houston Rockets tweeted support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. Remember that Twitter is banned in China, so hardly anyone there ever saw the message. This wasnt about stifling domestic protests, but silencing criticism everywhere else in the world.

While the NBA belatedly stood behind the free-speech rights of its personnel, some of its fans who attended an exhibition game of a Chinese team in Philadelphia this week said they were ejected for showing solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters. Meanwhile, even mighty Apple has been cowed; it pulled an app from its online store at Chinas behest that pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong used to track the movements of police. And Google has stopped distributing a game for Android phones that let users pretend to be a protester in Hong Kong.

The news from Europe isnt nearly as bad as the bullying from Beijing. But precisely because its a matter of law rather than a dictators whim, the Case of the Irritated Austrian may pose a worrisome threat to online freedom for years to come.

The ruling arose out of an incident in 2016, when someone on Facebook wrote that Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, head of the Austrian Green Party, was a lousy traitor and a corrupt bumpkin who belonged to a fascist party. That kind of babble happens in the United States every day and barely merits a shrug, or maybe just a holla-back Im no traitor! Youre a traitor! But in Austria, such words may be sanctioned as illegal defamation.

Glawischnig-Piesczek sued in an Austrian court and won an order that Facebook must take down the offending words. But the court wasnt content with riding herd on the reading habits of people in Austria. It held that Facebook had to take the message down around the world, so that absolutely nobody could read it.

Id thought the United States had dodged this particular bullet. In 2014, the European Unions highest court declared that citizens of the EU had the right to demand that search services like Google must take down embarrassing information about them if it was no longer relevant being fired from a job 20 years earlier, for instance. Google grudgingly complied. Since then, its received nearly 846,000 takedown requests from Europeans and removed 1.3 million web pages. But since the law applied to the EU, Google didnt delist the pages elsewhere in the world.

In 2016, France fined Google for refusing to delete the disputed information beyond the EU. After all, someone in France could still access that information, simply by going to the American version at Google.com instead of the French edition at Google.fr. But in September, the EUs supreme court disagreed, ruling that Europes right to be forgotten can be enforced only against Googles European sites.

Case closed? Not so fast.

On Oct. 3, the same court, ruling in the Glawischnig-Piesczek case, said that if the message in question is defamatory, the ban can be enforced worldwide. Facebook has to delete the disputed insults against her from its entire network, or it could face sanctions in the European Union, where the company generated about $14 billion in revenue last year. Worse yet, the court ruled that Facebook must also take down equivalent content in other words, posts that say essentially the same thing.

Now, how to enforce such a ruling? Automate the process, the EU court says. Surely Facebooks computers can ferret out every instance of the insults in question. That might work for exact copies of the original post. But Facebook must also ban messages that say roughly the same thing. But what if the words are used in a message that supports Glawischnig-Piesczek, or a news story that merely describes the affair?

Facebook must sort it all out on a global scale, every time an EU court demands a new takedown. That will never work. Either insults will seep through, or the filters will be so strict that even modest criticisms are barred, and free speech is smothered.

Its unlikely this ruling will lead to a torrent of censorship requests, as unhappy Europeans will have to first win a defamation case. And while the EU nations may impose more limits on free speech than the US, they at least recognize the principle.

But social networks might face similar demands from less liberal countries. China doesnt have to since it already bans Facebook, Google, and Twitter. But these companies are in other countries with other nasty regimes. Imagine Russia calling for worldwide takedowns of Facebook messages that defame Vladimir Putin, if such a thing is possible. Now he can use the EU court ruling to give any such demands a veneer of legality.

A few years back, I wrote about the need for an international treaty to set standards on Internet content regulation. We Americans already have the perfect template the First Amendment but most of the world isnt nearly as open-minded. So well have to compromise. And heres where to start: Lets tell the Europeans that well recognize their right to be forgotten law and its nitpicky definition of defamation, but only until we hit the Atlantic Coast. On this side of the water, lets play by our rules.

But the US cant hash out such a deal with China because Beijing wont bend on the issue of censorship. So theres only one question: Will we?

In effect, Americas corporations, desperate for Chinese cash, are negotiating with themselves. And so far, free speech is losing.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.

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China isnt the only country trying to stifle our free speech - The Boston Globe

Betting on free speech at the The League of Legends World Championship – Fox Business

Fox News Headlines 24/7 anchor Brett Larson reports on Fortnite disappearing into a black hole as the games season ends.

Political speech is now something that can be wagered on, at least when it comes to The League of Legends World Championship. One wagering firm is taking bets on if political statements will be made at the upcoming championships in Berlin.

This weekends The League of Legends World Championship could be the next battlefront for the democratic movement in Hong Kong. Last week, Ng Wai Chung, who is known by his gaming handle of Blitzchung,had been banned and stripped of his earnings after an interview on the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters broadcast of Hearthstone. In the interview, Blitzchung made a pro-democratic statement and was summarily stripped of his winnings, and was banned because ofhis statement by the game's owner, which is partially owned by Tencent, a Chinese media company..

Now, political speech inspired by Blitzchung is open to bets. SportsBetting.ag is offering three wagering lines on the topic for this weekends championship:

The case at the center of the betting odds continues to draw more attention to the protests in Hong Kong.

Blitzchung wore a gas mask while conducting the interview,a nod to the protesters in Hong Kong. At the end of the interview shouted "Liberate Hong Kong! The revolution of our times!"

This was deemed by Activision Blizzard to be against the games code of conduct, the games owner and operator. Blitzchung was stripped of his winnings and banned for the statement. Days later, Activision Blizzard caved to pressure and re-instated the winnings while cutting the suspension to six months.

Blitzchung responded to his commuted punishment by posting his appreciation on social media channels, but he has left the question of his future participation in the esports community open.

"Honestly, I have no idea on that yet," Blitzchung wrote about if he will compete again. "Since my next tournament is very likely to be the grandmaster tournament of next season, it's probably at least a few months from now on. I will take this time to relax myself to decide if I am staying in competitive hearthstone scene or not."

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Betting on free speech at the The League of Legends World Championship - Fox Business

Bitcoin Is a Weapon for Free Speech in the Face of Government and Corporate Censorship – Bitcoin News

The latest skirmishes in the bruising trade war between the U.S. and China have led to the unlikely politicization of the NBA. But how did the views of a basketball executive become such a political football? And what does Chinas ideological commitment to censorship say about the value of free speech and of free speech money, as bitcoin is sometimes known?

Also read: Berlusconi Admins Disappear Darknet Users Rush to Find Alternatives

The Communist Partys gangsterish demands on private companies is nothing new, but the recent decision by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to tweet support for pro-democracy protestors amid bedlam in Hong Kong quickly exposed just how fragile the notion of free speech really is. In the face of opprobrium from Beijing, Moreys climbdown, augmented by groveling input from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and NBA spokesman Mike Bass, was pitiful to behold. But it hinted at the wider problem of gutlessness among companies that have provoked the ire of the Chinese government.

A curated list of companies that have kowtowed to Chinese censorship requests, maintained on Github, is damning. As well as the NBA, the roll of shame includes Apple, Marriott, Nike, ESPN, several of the worlds largest airlines like British Airways, Qantas and American Airlines, and Versace. With trade talks between the US and China underway in Washington, the specter of censorship, while not on the agenda, will loom large over proceedings.

Both nations have a lot to answer for as far as free speech, privacy, money and other basic human rights are concerned. Chinas persistent assault on freedom seems more flagrant, but the U.S. and, for that matter, other western nations hardly cover themselves in glory. Attorney General William Barr recently squeezed major tech companies to provide government agencies with backdoor entry points for encrypted devices and software. It remains perfectly legal for citizens throughout the world to be fired by their employer or interrogated by customs for something theyve said on social media even when it occurred years ago.

Edward Snowdens expos of rampant state surveillance shows that when it comes to assembling a digital panopticon thats always watching, the Americans are even more ruthless than the Chinese. At least in China you can see the cameras observing you; theres no such courtesy when the U.S. agencies activate your webcam and start recording.

Speaking of surveillance and its insidious incursion into peoples lives, the Washington Post just reported that more than 400 police departments across the U.S. have entered into surveillance partnerships with Amazons camera-enabled doorbell company, Ring. Its yet another way in which the government is utilizing tech, while co-opting big business to bear down upon civil rights and liberties.

In the modern world, digital freedom is everything. The bulk of our lives now unfold online: our conversations, our financial transactions, our very identities. What we are witnessing, increasingly, is free speech being smothered via the deplatforming of certain voices and an attempt by governments to introduce regulatory oversight on financial transactions which goes beyond ensuring proper taxation, but under the guise of crime prevention impinges upon privacy at a fundamental level. When governments seek to blunt-force encrypted devices and software, it requires a stupefying level of naivety to assume that their motivation is cracking down on kiddie porn.

Value and dignity exist in an internet where speech, financial autonomy and other basic rights are not controlled by government agencies or international conglomerates. Where our private data is not commoditized and sold to the highest bidder, and where we have the right to lives that are not the object of constant and unforgiving scrutiny.

Avoiding inference from third parties in the form of censure (deplatforming) and restriction of speech are basic desires shared by all digital citizens. This is why, when the topic of censorship and governmental overreach rears its head, Bitcoin isnt far behind. Being able to process payments on the internet without permission or risk of confiscation is a privilege that provokes a desire to exercise the same level of freedom in other realms. To harness fully open source, secure and private systems of expression that are immune to the tentacles of power.

If the convergence of state and corporate interests continues unchecked, we are all imperilled; Chinese, American, or otherwise. Seized bank accounts, stolen information, frozen assets and ever greater attempts to stifle free speech and freedom of association will become the norm, and not just for those existing on the fringes, but for the masses. Is it any wonder that protestors harness technology to combat the might of the state? Tools such as PGP, Bitcoin, and decentralized networks allow individuals to conduct their affairs without permission from any bank, corporation or government.

While the summit in Washington is focused on matters such as trade imbalances and intellectual property violations, at an individual level we have bigger questions to ask of ourselves. Are we prepared to endure online censorship and a veritable onslaught on our civil liberties? Or are we willing to fight for an internet that does not function as an arm of the state but as an open platform for the free exchange of ideas and value? A censorship-resistant internet benefits everyone. It also benefits Bitcoin, for where theres free speech, theres demand for free speech money.

Do you think free speech and financial sovereignty as provided by Bitcoin are interlinked? Let us know in the comments section below.

Op-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the authors own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see whats happening in the industry.

Kai's been manipulating words for a living since 2009 and bought his first bitcoin at $12. It's long gone. He's previously written whitepapers for blockchain startups and is especially interested in P2P exchanges and DNMs.

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Bitcoin Is a Weapon for Free Speech in the Face of Government and Corporate Censorship - Bitcoin News

Is There Freedom of Speech in Germany? – The New York Times

HAMBURG, Germany Germany doesnt have a problem with free speech. It has two or rather, it is caught between two very different conceptions of free speech, each of which has significant shortcomings and each of which is rooted in our inability to close the chasm that remains between eastern and western Germany, 30 years after reunification.

Simply put, the division pits one part of the country that believes freedom of speech is on the decline against another that believes freedom of speech is going way too far. These arent just different concepts, rooted in two different formative national experiences the Nazi era and the East German Communist regime. They are also at fundamental odds with each other, meaning that the day in, day out debate over what counts as acceptable speech is driving Germans further apart.

Lets start with the Germans who believe that freedom of speech is endangered. Concentrated in eastern Germany, many of them experienced communism and its better say nothing atmosphere firsthand, only to be freed with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For many eastern Germans, the revolution of 1989 held the promise that in a free country you would be able to utter any opinion, without suffering consequences. Instead, they complain, when they express conservative views on hot topics like immigration or multiculturalism, they are quickly labeled Nazis.

We know what it feels like to live in a society where certain opinions are unacceptable, they say, and increasingly, were feeling that same pressure.

The second group, rooted in western Germany, has a different concern, and a different historical reference point. They believe they see social norms around tolerance and diversity eroding, and fear a replay of the 1930s.

From 1933 onward, the incremental acceptance of hatred, racism and dehumanization paved the way to the Holocaust. This group, which includes high-profile journalists and celebrities, believes that hatred should not be covered by the freedom of speech. That in itself is not a new view in Germany, but recently those who hold it have ceased to draw a distinction between the broad political right and right-wing extremism.

To them, rechts right-wing has become the new collective term for an immensely broad range of people, from conservative critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel to neo-Nazis. We have learned our lesson, this group says, and we will never again allow intolerance and inhumanity to enter legitimate discourse.

Both groups command support from broad sections of German society. And both fundamentally misunderstand what free speech means.

The promise of 1989, to start with, never included a guarantee that speech came without consequences. In fact, most opinions have and will always have a social price. Freedom of speech never meant freedom from ridicule. Part of the messy necessity of democratic civil society is sorting out good ideas from bad ones. Plus, in Communist East Germany, people who criticized the government were often tortured by the Stasi. We are far from this danger today.

What the other side gets wrong is that brute, malign and even hateful speech is, in fact, broadly covered by freedom of speech. Freedom of opinion includes the right to utter opinions against freedom.

The German constitutional court ruled in 2009 that even the dissemination of National Socialist ideas as a radical challenge to the existing order is principally covered by the right of the freedom speech. Why? Because theres no better way to fight nonsense than a good counter argument.

Increasingly lost on the German left is exactly this confidence: that the freewheeling fight of opinions is the best insurance against a victory of inhumane ideologues. In Nazi Germany, this clash of ideas did not exist. Dissidents were shut in concentration camps or killed. We are far from this danger today as well.

The real danger Germany faces today is neither a creeping leftist regime nor a nascent far-right dictatorship. Rather, it is the irrational insinuation that people who hold views different from your own are themselves illegitimate. This suspicion leads to tribalism, and tribalism is what drives societies apart.

What protects us against this drift? A good start might be the realization that complaining about the others who allegedly impair ones freedom of speech is often an excuse for ones own lack of courage to speak out. Right after World War II, the German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, had a good piece of advice for citizens who feared others anger: Its only after having made yourself unpopular that you will be taken seriously.

In the age of Twitter, it is extremely easy to make yourself extremely unpopular. It is also easy as never before to gain a voice. Thats the new deal.

Jochen Bittner is a co-head of the debate section for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. Wed like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And heres our email: letters@nytimes.com.

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Is There Freedom of Speech in Germany? - The New York Times

European Court’s Decision in Right To Be Forgotten Case is a Win for Free Speech – EFF

In a significant victory for free speech rights, the European Unions highest court ruled that the EUs Right to Be Forgotten does not require Google to delist search results globally, thus keeping the results available to be seen by users around the world.

The EU standard, established in 2014, lets individuals in member states demand that search engines not show search results containing old information about them when their privacy rights outweigh the publics interest in having continued access to the information. The question before the court was whether Google had to remove the results from all Google search platforms, including Google.com, or just the ones identified with either the individuals state of residence, in this case Google.fr, or ones identified with the EU as a whole.

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) decided that the Right to Be Forgotten does not require such global delisting. Thus, by delisting search results from Google.fr and from any search performed through an IP address identified as being located in France, Google was in compliance with the Right to be Forgotten. Frances data protection authority, the Commission Nationale de lInformatique et des Liberties (CNIL), had argued that the Right to be Forgotten required Google to delist search results from all of its sites, since they were all available to users in France.

EFF joined Article 19 and other global free speech groups in urging the Court of Justice to reach this decision and overturn a ruling by CNIL. As the brief explained, a global delisting order would conflict with the rights of users in other nations, including U.S. users protected by First Amendment. U.S. courts have consistently held that the First Amendments protections for expression, petition, and assembly necessarily also protect the rights of individuals to gather information to fuel those expressions, petitions, and assemblies.

As we explained in the brief:

"In the United States, a right to de-reference publicly available information on data protection grounds would be unconstitutional: the First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right of people to publish information on matters of public interest that they acquire legally, even in the face of significant interests relating to the private life of those involved (Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing Co. 443 US 97 (1979)). This reasoning extends to those situations where there is a significant governmental interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the information in question (Oklahoma Pub. Co. v. Distr. Court 430 US 308 (1977), where the information concerns judicial procedures (Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia 435 US 829 (1978) and even where the publisher of the information knows that her or his source obtained the information illegally (Bartnicki v. Vopper 532 US 514 (2001). The First Amendment also guarantees the right to receive information, including by means of a search engine (see e.g. Langdon v. Google 474 F. Supp. 2d 622 (D. Del. 2007)). . . . The incompatibility of broad de-referencing obligations with US law is especially relevant in the present case given that all major search providers are established in the US"

The CJEU agreed. It found that numerous third States do not recognise the right to de-referencing or have a different approach to that right. . . . Furthermore, the balance between the right to privacy and the pf personal data, on the one hand, and the freedom of information of internet users, on the other, is likely to vary significantly around the world. Thus, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator . . . to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine. . . . [and] a search engine operator cannot be required . . . to carry out a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine.

The CJEU also found that EU state data protection regulators could only order de-listing in domains associated with other EU member states after conferring with their counterparts from other states. The purpose is to ensure that such an order would be consistent with any other states implementation of the Right to be Forgotten.

In a passage that has left commentators scratching their heads, the court emphasized that even though the Right to be Forgotten does not currently require delisting from all versions of Googles search engine, EU law does not prohibit such a practice. The court said an authority in an EU member state may balance an individuals right to privacy and the freedom of information and, where appropriate, order the operator of a search engine to delist search results from all of its versions.

It is unclear how to square this with the courts statement that a search engine operator cannot be required . . . to carry out a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine. Some commentators have suggested that the EU could rewrite the Right to Be Forgotten directives to permit global delisting. Another interpretation is that the court was preserving the ability of individual state authorities to order global delisting as a remedy in extraordinary cases. And yet another interpretation is that the court was simply allowing for the possibility of global delisting orders for violations of other laws, but not the Right to Be Forgotten. So this is unlikely to be the last time the CJEU takes up the issue of global delisting; indeed, another case, presenting a similar issue in the context of a defamation claim, is expected to be decided soon.

The ability of one nation to require a search engine to delist results globally would prevent users around the world from accessing information they have a legal right to receive under their own countrys laws. That would allow the most speech-restrictive laws to be applied globally. The CJEU decision rightly rejected that scenario.

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European Court's Decision in Right To Be Forgotten Case is a Win for Free Speech - EFF

Free speech suppression online builds case to break up Big Tech | TheHill – The Hill

Free speech is under attack by the Big Tech monopolies that dominate the internet. The flogging that Beto ORourke received during his Reddit ask me anything session this month perfectly underscored the distinction between a mainstream media and a genuinely free press. ORourke gave Americans a chance to grill him about his pivot from a centrist Senate candidate to a radical presidential hopeful, and in contrast to the handling he has gotten from the media, they treated him like hamburger meat.

No surprise there. The expression of free speech can be edgy, brutal, irreverent, and sometimes downright offensive. I should know. My father and I have been subjected to some of the most withering attacks and false claims in politics. Participating in democracy, however, is as American as apple pie. There is no substitute for open, honest, unrestricted dialogue and criticism when it comes to holding our leaders accountable.

For all the platitudes offered by liberal journalists about the free press standing as a cornerstone of democracy, they do not actually have a very good grasp of the concept. The free press that the founders envisioned looked a lot more like the Reddit users who roasted ORourke than New York Times writers who misrepresent basic tenets of free speech and demand censorship to protect their friends from online harassment.

In the 18th century, English newspaper editor John Wilkes anonymously published a satirical pamphlet savagely blasting the British prime minister. Wilkes was thrown in jail for writing it, but our founders, whom Wilkes firmly supported, wound up basing their concept of a free press on his example. Common Sense by Thomas Paine, the most important pamphlet championing the patriot cause, was also published anonymously, as were the Federalist Papers that informed the writing of the Constitution.

As I have written many times, the greatest threat to free speech and our democracy today is not the government, but the technology giants that deplatform people at the behest of liberals and then justify the action as combating hate and making the internet somehow safer. I was reminded of this reality when Instagram once again stifled my voice, as well as that of my father, by preventing our accounts from appearing in search results. As with every time this happens, Instagram simply blamed an error.

If social media can do that to the president, then no one is safe. I do not believe that such an error could possibly account for the extent to which conservatives are silenced by Big Tech. The sustained pattern of leftward bias both within the companies themselves and in their conduct around elections has been clearly established. After all, when is the last time you heard a liberal complain about being unfairly stifled on social media?

Technology companies are now openly claiming that they can engage in biased censorship, with Facebook arguing in court that it has the right to censor content because it is a publisher. If it were not for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the admission that it is a publisher would make Facebook liable for every word of defamation and slander on its various platforms. Instead, Facebook escapes liability because it is a provider of interactive computer services protected specifically because it offers a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.

Which sounds more like free speech to you? Google, Facebook, and Twitter wielding their unchecked power to silence conservative voices while avoiding the obligations imposed on normal publishers? Or citizens and political candidates freely expressing their opinions online without fear of suppression? The disdain shown by technology companies for viewpoint neutrality and their refusal to be honest about it shows the threat of the Silicon Valley monopoly over the modern public square.

Thanks in large part to the White House, people are recognizing the gravity of the situation. A majority of Americans support breaking up the technology giants, including a majority of liberals, while 50 state and territory attorneys general have brought the first antitrust investigation of its kind against Google. This comes in addition to antitrust investigations into Google, Facebook, and Amazon that have already been announced by both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

For years, state and local governments allowed Silicon Valley to amass monopoly power over activities that affect significant areas of our lives. In return, the technology companies allowed liberal activists to dominate their corporate culture and abuse their power to restrict free speech. If Big Tech keeps kowtowing to this, it might very well soon regret it.

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKamala Harris calls for Twitter to suspend Trump account over whistleblower attacks Clinton jokes she 'never' had to tell Obama not to 'extort foreign countries' John Dean: 'There is enough evidence' to impeach Trump MORE Jr. is executive vice president at the Trump Organization.

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Free speech suppression online builds case to break up Big Tech | TheHill - The Hill

Students can protect free speech on campus – UT The Daily Texan

You probably have heard about Senate Bill 18 by now, a law passed by the 86th Texas Legislature allowing anyone to speak on designated public spaces on campus. Before SB 18, organizations unaffiliated with the university could come onto campus, but they had to be invited by a campus organization or affiliate beforehand. Now, any party, excluding those engaging in commercial solicitation, can come onto campus with no prior permission necessary.

This law isnt exactly revolutionary, as it will really only change how outside speakers are treated procedurally. It is up to the student body to react to this new policy in an effective and responsible manner. If students see this law as a threat to our public area, it will cultivate an exclusive mindset that reinforces existing negative stigma surrounding universities and free speech. This procedural change gives students the chance to prove that UT is an institution made of thoughtful students who can listen to opinions, even though they may contradict our own, and respond in a productive way.

As a whole, universities have gained the unfortunate reputation of not accepting free speech, particularly toward more controversial or inflammatory ideas. Students have pushed to shut down certain speakers nationwide, prompting others to accuse those students of not acknowledging opposing views.

Though we should not tolerate hate speech, by responsibly accepting the changes brought by SB 18, we can reject that reputation and build our own based on open-mindedness. Students can demonstrate this by listening to speakers on campus and engaging in thoughtful and constructive debate.

The urge to filter who has a platform on campus is understandable from a students perspective. No one wants to feel like their institution is actively hosting or promoting hateful and outdated ideas. Thats one of the benefits of this change since these speakers are not being invited by the university itself, students wont feel betrayed if someone whose agenda they dont agree with makes their way onto campus. Its a win-win for both the university and the students. Both are relieved of any liability from being associated with such speakers.

Largely, though, students shouldnt expect an increase in these types of speakers. Its not like the university was strictly filtering the types of speakers in the past, as there has always been a healthy diversity in the types of groups brought onto campus.

Youll probably see the same people that youve always seen, without a dramatic change, said JB Bird, director of media relations and newsroom. Except that instead of being invited, they can now come on their own.

There are sure to be exceptions, but for the most part, this policy is simply protecting the presence of those who want to influence students with the best of intentions.

We should appreciate our space in the community as a place of free expression, and allowing this interaction with the community not only fosters open debate, but reforms our image into one of acceptance.

Ruder is a political communications freshman from Frisco.

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Students can protect free speech on campus - UT The Daily Texan

Free Speech Alliance Continues to Gain Momentum: 60 Members and Growing – NewsBusters

RESTON, VA The Free Speech Alliance (FSA), a coalition of conservative organizations and conservative leaders committed to protecting free speech online, surpassed 60 members today.

Recent members to the FSA include: PragerU, Susan B. Anthony List, Americas PAC, and Independent Womens Forum. As big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter continue to de-platform conservatives, it is more important than ever for conservatives to band together in the fight to protect free speech online. That is why the FSA was formed.

The FSA fights for transparency and equal footing for conservatives on Twitter, Facebook, Google and other social media platforms. We defend the incredible and revolutionary ideal of free speech in which American democracy is rooted. We actively engage with tech companies to ensure they are protecting conservative speech online and that the radical left does not contaminate the national online dialogue with their bias.

Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell stated:

It is critical for the survival of the conservative movement that we unite in defense of our right to express ourselves online without threat of being censored by the social media giants. Protecting our freedom of speech is something that should not only be important to conservatives, but to all Americans. Facebook, Twitter and Google/Youtube own the most widely used online platforms for speech in the world. Facebook, Twitter, and Google/Youtube have full control over what we say, hear, write, and read. It is immensely important that these platforms remain neutral. How can any movement or ideology survive when the means to share its ideas is stripped away? As the FSA continues to grow, it sends a signal to Silicon Valley that change must happen and must happen quickly.

For more information about the Free Speech Alliance, visit: https://www.mrc.org/freespeechalliance#about

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Free Speech Alliance Continues to Gain Momentum: 60 Members and Growing - NewsBusters

Is the Supreme Court using the First Amendment to empower corporations, the right? – Berkeleyside

William Turner. Photo: Michael Erickson

Longtime Berkeley lawyer and educator William Bennett Turner has been increasingly disillusioned by First Amendment decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Turner practiced constitutional law for 45 years, argued cases before the court and has published widely on free-speech issues. He has taught courses on freedom of speech and the press at UC Berkeley for more than three decades. Now, hes written a book charging that the court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has been deploying the First Amendment in ways that serve the interests of corporations and the religious right instead of the individuals who traditionally need the amendments protection to get their voices heard. Turner says the court has taken free speech principles developed decades ago to shield and empower oppressed citizens and applied them to further conservative political interests.

The book, just published by Roaring Forties Press in Berkeley, is Free Speech for Some: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing the First Amendment to Empower Corporations and the Religious Right. I wondered what had convinced him that more people need to know what the Supreme Court is doing these days about free speech.

Free speech has been loudly proclaimed, especially in Berkeley, for decades. Most recently, the First Amendment was tested in the violent protests surrounding the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos and others on the UC Berkeley campus throughout 2017. Security for the events cost the campus and local law enforcement millions of dollars.

Turner and I talked about his book at the Baker & Commons Caf, a calm venue on College Avenue in the Elmwood, which itself has been in the past the site of more than one bitter community controversy. The conversation has been edited for clarity and concision.

Having taught generations of Berkeley students about these explosive issues, you say, What the First Amendment means is what at least five current justices say it means. So the meaning can change as the composition of the court changes?

It can and does. The text of the amendment doesnt give us any answers, not even clues, to the free speech issues that come before the court. Now that the Roberts Court has a solid majority of political conservatives, they are free to decide cases in ways that favor conservative political and economic interests, and thats what theyve been doingsystematically.

The originalists on the court, including the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hold that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was in 1787?

Yes, the Originalists, now also including Neil Gorsuch and to some extent, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, say the Constitution should be interpreted the way the framers would have understood it. But theres precious little information about what the framers had in mind in adopting the First Amendment. Its pretty clear they wanted to protect political speech, but thats about it. How they would think about Facebook, Twitter, violent video games and 21st-century communications is anybodys guess.

Is there historical precedent for the First Amendment being used in favor of business and corporations?

Traditionally, the amendment was used to shield individuals and groups like civil rights demonstrators, antiwar activists, and eccentrics who needed the amendment to get their voices heard. Theres some precedent for corporations having free speech rights, and Citizens United took that precedent and ran with it. Generally, corporations dont have more or better free speech rights than individuals. But the Roberts Court has decided that certain categories of individuals dont have full First Amendment rights: students, prisoners, government employees and military personnel. The court in Citizens United didnt satisfactorily explain why corporations should have greater speech protection than these real human beings.

Could you explain the Lochner ruling, which used the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to target social welfare legislation like Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal? How was that similar to what you see happening in the courts free speech decisions today?

Thats complicated but important. Lochner, in 1905, used the Due Process clause to strike down all kinds of laws opposed by business. It said the liberty protected by Due Process included a fictional liberty of contract between, for example, employers and employees, so laws that set minimum wages and hours interfered with that liberty and violated the Constitution. During the Lochner era, the court threw out maybe 200 state and federal laws on this reasoning. Lochner is now viewed as a disgraceful period in the courts history. Even Chief Justice Roberts has denounced it. What he doesnt acknowledge is that his court is accomplishing much the same resultsgetting government off the backs of businessby using a different amendment, the First. In other words, a new Lochner era is afoot, with the majority justices using a broad, unspecific constitutional provision and reading into it their political and economic preferences.

The Roberts Court is the most business-friendly since the Lochner era. It has consistently struck down environmental and consumer protections, limited the rights of injured individuals to receive fair compensation, restricted class actions, hobbled labor unions and made it more difficult for ordinary citizens to get access to the courts to redress their grievances. This pro-business bent has been widely recognized. Whats new is the courts now deploying the First Amendment to further business interests.

The courts Citizens United decision overturned the McCain-Feingold Act, which had limited corporate spending in campaigns. What else did it do?

Citizens United drew an important distinction between contributions to candidates campaigns, which are still limited and were not involved in Citizens United at all, and independent expenditures, which is spending on elections that is not coordinated with any candidate or campaign. The court said independent expenditures for example, spending your own money to take out television ads expressing your candidate or policy preferences are incapable of creating corruption, and therefore beyond governments authority to limit. Theyre speech protected by the First Amendment.

Theres a misconception that the Roberts Court invented the concept of corporate personhood for constitutional purposes. It didnt. Another misconception is that the court blessed Super PACs. It didnt; none existed at the time of the decision. The creation of Super PACs was probably an unintended consequence of the decision. And the court did not rule that corporations could now put dark money into political campaigns. The court, in fact, upheld the disclosure provisions of McCain-Feingold. A lot of dark money (undisclosed, unlimited) goes through 501(c)(4) social welfare advocacy groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Roves Crossroads GPS and others, but that wasnt involved in Citizens United at all.

Will you discuss the courts decision in the ruling on violent video games?

The court struck down Californias law prohibiting the sale of extremely violent video games to minors. Justice Scalias caustic, cynical, playful opinion is a classic. The court held that video games are speech, as deserving of First Amendment protection as books, movies, etc. The court rejected the states contention that violent games are of so little social value that they dont deserve any constitutional protection. The court found no evidence that playing the games caused actual violence and no credible evidence that gamers own psyches were harmed.

You could say this is just another pro-business effort by the court, this time benefitting the highly profitable video game industry. But it was more. The opinion was an impressive display of how potent an engine, for better or for worse, the modern First Amendment has become.

Where do libertarian principles fit into Free Speech rulings?

The Roberts Court has not abandoned the First Amendments libertarian tradition. It has continued to find protection for unpopular and even disturbing speech, including bigoted funeral protests, racial insults, and hate speech. It has protected the speech rights of congenital liars and registered sex offenders. Some political conservatives including judges are also libertarian, not trusting the government to make the decisions about what speech is valuable and what isnt.

You have practiced law for many years, have argued First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court, have seen many changes. Is it possible that the First Amendment can be retooled?

Not likely that the current justices will renounce their background, training, personal philosophy and track record. But not impossible that some justice, perhaps most likely the chief (the court will forever bear his name), will shift position and call a halt to subserviently carrying out the agenda of a particular party. No justice should want to be viewed by history as a political hack whose votes are entirely predictable and congenial to special interests.

Frances Starns recent writings are online at francessmithstarn.in

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Is the Supreme Court using the First Amendment to empower corporations, the right? - Berkeleyside

New York City Declares Using the Term ‘Illegal Alien’ Can Result in a $250000 Fine – Reason

Last week, New York City's Commission on Human Rights declared that using the term "illegal alien" pejoratively to describe an undocumented person violates laws designed to protect employees and tenants from discrimination, and could result in fines of up to $250,000. But the city's interpretation of the law is so broad that it may very well be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Perceived immigration status has long been a protected category under the New York City Human Rights Law, and the commission has now issued guidance that "use of the term 'illegal alien,' among others, when used with intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person, is illegal under the law."

It's important to note that this guidance does not affect all kinds of speech: The law covers workplace harassment, tenants' rights, and public accommodation. Merely calling someone an illegal alien on the street, or threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement on them, would not be illegal.

The courts have, of course, held that anti-discrimination ordinances can survive scrutiny, even if they appear to limit the free speech rights of employers and landlords. But NYC is going further here. The 30-page guidance notes, for instance, that "the severity or pervasiveness of the harassment is only relevant to damages. Even an employer's single comment made in circumstances where that comment would signal discriminatory views about one's immigration status or national origin may be enough to constitute harassment."

That's a problem, and one that might push the guidance into unconstitutional territory. Government decrees to prohibit free speech in the name of anti-harassment or anti-discrimination must come with certain limiting conditions to survive a First Amendment test.

"The Supreme Court requires that conduct be not just unwelcome, but also severe or pervasive enough to make the work environment both subjectivelyand objectively hostile, before it is legally considered harassment under federal law," wrote Hans Bader, an attorney and former official in the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. "Even the 'severe or pervasive' standard found in federal law is not sufficiently protective of speech, so it is alarming that New York City has eliminated that modest limit on liability."

Bader's entire post on the subject is worth reading in full. The government cannot simply prohibit people from making politically incorrect statements about undocumented peopleit must limit the scope of anti-discrimination mandates in order to satisfy the broad free speech guarantees enjoyed by all people.

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New York City Declares Using the Term 'Illegal Alien' Can Result in a $250000 Fine - Reason

Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms – Free Speech TV

Fake news and polarizing memes skewed voting patterns and hate flourished online. Today companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are under fire from those outraged at the proliferation of fake news and hate-groups, while right-wing extremists claim they are biased against conservatives.

Rising Up With Sonali speaks with Robert Elliott Smith, an expert in Artificial Intelligence who has worked on projects for Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories, the National Science Foundation, NASA My to discuss that it is the algorithms these tech platforms use that are the problem.

Artificial intelligence Free Speech TV freespeech.tv Rising Up with Sonali Robert Elliot Smith tech companies

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Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms - Free Speech TV


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