Media Law Roundup 08.10

The U.N. and the Internet

08.08 U.N. Agency to Wrestle Control of the Internet Away From U.S. – Should the control over the Internet pass to the United Nations? That’s the question that could arise when the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union hosts its World Conference on International Telecommunications this December. While it might be hard to imagine anyone jockeying for control over something as vast and amorphous as the Internet, word has it that the matter will be pushed to the fore at the event, when conference principals are expected to review the International Telecommunications Regulations. (Apart from a modification in 1988, the somewhat antiquated regulations go back nearly 25 years.)  In other words, it could mean a major shift is coming in how the Webs are stewarded.

08.09- Foreign Policy: The UN Takes On The Internet – On Aug. 2, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the White House to stop an obscure U.N. agency from asserting greater control over the Internet. It is the “consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States,” the lawmakers affirmed, “to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today.”

08.09 –Why is the UN Trying to Take over the Internet? – Yet another anachronistic regulator is trying to flex its muscles over the Internet.  But this time the U.S. government is actually the one trying to stop them. That’s right.  It’s the United Nations.  Specifically, the International Telecommunications Union, a 150 year-old bureaucracy that started life establishing telegraph standards.  The ITU has since mutated into coordinating international telephone interconnection and radio spectrum, and became part of the U.N. in 1947.  But it has never had a meaningful role in dealing with the Internet.

Facebook Likes and Free Speech

08.07- Illinois Facebook Password Law Bars Employers From Asking For Social Media Logins – Seeking to guard the privacy rights of the social networking generation, Illinois is making it illegal for employers to ask job applicants for passwords to their online profiles.

08.07 – Facebook’s Censors Strike Again – Is America To Blame? – Is America too puritan? Are American corporations guilty of imposing Puritanism abroad? That seems to be the view of French Tumbler culture writer “Véculture,” who protested Facebook’s censorship last week of Gerhard Richter’s “Ema,” a misted view of a nude woman, on the page of the Pompidou Center….

08.08 – Are Your Facebook Likes Free Speech? – Facebook has joined the ACLU in arguing that users’ likes on the social networking site should be a protected form of free speech. In separate filings with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., lawyers argued that a ruling that refused to provide protections to those who like something on Facebook was wrong.

08.08 – Facebook to court: Likes are protected by First Amendment – When you “like” something on Facebook, that expression is indeed covered by the First Amendment, Facebook is arguing in a new court document. The friend-of-the-court brief, filed last night, also urges an appeals court to vacate a recent ruling by a judge in Virginia that Facebook “likes” are not protected speech.

08.08 – ACLU Throws in with Facebook, Says ‘Like’ Is Protected Speech – Which of the following is protected by the First Amendment: Publishing the Pentagon Papers or choosing to “like” dogs on Facebook? According to the American Civil Liberties Union, they both are. The ACLU has filed an amicus brief in support of efforts to overturn a federal judge’s ruling earlier this year that “liking” something on Facebook isn’t speech protected by the First Amendment.

08.08 – Facebook say ‘Likes’ are free speech in sheriff case – Facebook is supporting the court appeal of a deputy sheriff who lost his job after he ‘Liked’ the Facebook campaign page of his boss’s rival. The case is helping to define the extent of free speech rights in the age of social media. The Virginia man at center of the case, Daniel Ray Carter, clicked to “Like” the “Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff” page in 2009. The incumbent sheriff learned of his subordinate’s “Like” for his opponent and fired Carter shortly after he won re-election.

08.09 – Facebook ‘like’ in court over free speech The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this week associated itself with the case in Newport News city, contending that the “like” button on Facebook is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. A US District Court judge ruled earlier this year that liking someone on Facebook was “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection,” and that Sheriff B.J. Hampton was thus not breaking the law when he fired six staffers in his office who had “liked” his opponent in a 2009 election.

08.09 – Virginia deputy fights his firing over a Facebook ‘like’ A Virginia sheriff’s deputy has been fired for liking his boss’s political opponent — on Facebook.Now Daniel Ray Carter Jr. is fighting back in court, arguing that a “like” should be protected by his First Amendment right to free speech. It’s a case that could settle a significant question at a time when hundreds of millions of people express themselves on Facebook, sometimes merging their personal, professional and political lives in the process.

Journalist Objectivity and Rights

08.07 – Zimbabwe: Be Objective, Mujuru Urges Media – ZIMBABWE places value to news agencies that report accurately about the political and economic situation in the country, Vice President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.She said news agencies from Western countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe have been negative in their reportage on the country. VP Mujuru said this during a meeting with visiting Xinhua News Agency editor-in-chief and member of the Communist Party of China, Mr He Ping, at her Munhumutapa offices in Harare

08.07 – Namibia: More Protection Needed for Women Journalists – In February 2011, American journalist Lara Logan was sexually assaulted in Cairo while reporting on the unfolding revolution in Egypt. A few months later, in the same city, a French journalist, Caroline Sinz, was raped by a group of men and teenagers as she was covering the clashes between the demonstrators and the police forces, while her male colleague was beaten black and blue. The two cases attracted global media attention…

08.07 – Myanmar censors lift ban on 2 magazines following rare protest by journalists – Myanmar’s media censors agreed to lift suspensions on two weekly magazines, editors said Tuesday, after journalists staged a rare protest to demand more press freedom. The Press Scrutiny Board summoned editors from The Voice Weekly and Envoy magazines on Monday and informed them they could resume publishing on Aug. 18.

08.09 – Freedom of speech still a distant dream in Tunisia – Tunisian journalists hoped that an era of freedom of speech was dawning after last year’s uprising, fuelled by outspoken bloggers and activists and covered by the global media, toppled their autocratic leader. Following the exit of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and the tumbling of decades-old restrictions on reporters, dozens of people founded radio stations, newspapers and television channels.

08.09 – Pakistan’s Eroding Space for Free Expression – A new report called “Challenges for Independent News Media in Pakistan” by the Washington-based Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) says physical safety is the number one concern of journalists working in Pakistan. Declared as the world’s deadliest place for reporters for the past two consecutive years, Pakistan has made little progress in improving the working conditions for journalists. Written by veteran journalist Sherry Ricchiardi, the report recommends imparting of literature, such as Dart Center‘s “Tragedies and Journalists,” in local languages educating journalists how to grapple with trauma caused by reporting from conflict zones.

08.09 – Southern Africa: Tanzania – Weekly Newspaper Banned Indefinitely – The government of the United Republic of Tanzania has banned, indefinitely, the critical local weekly MwanaHalisi, accusing the newspaper of publishing seditious articles according to a statement released by the Information ministry released Monday, 30 July 2012. The Tanzania government reached this decision after MwanaHalisi published content in its July 11-18, 2012; July 18-24, 2012 and July 25-01 August, 2012 editions that is deemed to have brought fear to society.

Google and Privacy

08.09 – Google to include people’s Gmail in search results Google is creating an information bridge between its influential Internet search engine and its widely used Gmail service in its latest attempt to deliver more personal responses more quickly. The experimental feature unveiled Wednesday will enable Google’s search engine to mine the correspondence stored within a user’s Gmail account for any data tied to a search request. For example, a query containing the word “Amazon” would pull emails with shipping information sent by the online retailer.

08.09 – Update: Google to pay $22.5M fine over privacy practices Google will pay a historic fine to settle U.S. government charges that it violated privacy laws when it tracked via cookies users of Apple’s Safari browser. The US$22.5 million civil penalty is the largest ever secured by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for a violation of one of its orders, the FTC said on Thursday.

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