Freedom of Expression

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Send the ACLU to SXSW 2014!

Send the ACLU to SXSW 2014!

By Anna Salem, ACLU of Northern California at 4:04pm
It's that time of year again. The annual SXSW PanelPicker is open for your votes! SXSW Interactive festival draws thousands of developers and entrepreneurs -- an audience that needs to hear how much you care about issues like online privacy and free speech. Voting ends on September 6th, so don't wait! Please vote for our panels and help us spread the word today!
Far More than a Half-Measure on News Media Investigations

Far More than a Half-Measure on News Media Investigations

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:06am

Late last week, the attorney general released a report on new guidelines governing when and how the Justice Department can investigate members of the news media.

Prompted by the controversies over the excessively broad subpoena issued to the…

FCC Should Resist Calls to Enhance Broadcast Censorship

FCC Should Resist Calls to Enhance Broadcast Censorship

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:51pm

In response to a call for comments regarding the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) enforcement of its broadcast indecency policies, the ACLU submitted comments last month arguing that the FCC's regulations have devolved into vague, overbroad,…

Responding to The Washington Post's Walter Pincus on Leaks and Shield Laws

Responding to The Washington Post's Walter Pincus on Leaks and Shield Laws

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:11pm

Washington Post national security reporter Walter Pincus has recently written several columns criticizing the press and First Amendment advocates...

AP Phone Records Scandal Highlights a Broader Problem: Lack of Checks and Balances on Government Access to Records

AP Phone Records Scandal Highlights a Broader Problem: Lack of Checks and Balances on Government Access to Records

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 11:36am

Last week we learned that the Department of Justice, in an unprecedented intrusion on the work of journalists, had obtained records for twenty telephone numbers belonging to the Associated Press or its reporters, spanning April and May 2012. The telephone records obtained do not include the content of phone calls, but they likely reveal the phone number of each and every caller on those lines for a period of weeks and, therefore, the identity of scores of confidential media sources.

The seizure of these records came to light only because the government has a special set of guidelines that require it to notify any media organization of a subpoena for its records within (at most) 90 days. The AP appears to have learned of the seizure of its phone records, albeit after the fact, only because of this special policy.

The notice given to the AP has generated a healthy debate over the limits on the government’s authority to acquire our telephone and internet records. But what if you aren’t a media organization and, therefore, do not benefit from the special government policy entitling you to notice when the government obtains your telephone or internet records? What information can the government get about you, and is it even required to tell you when it does so?

DOJ's AP Phone Logs Grab Highlights Renewed Need for Shield Law

DOJ's AP Phone Logs Grab Highlights Renewed Need for Shield Law

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:31pm

Update: The administration has asked Sen. Schumer to reintroduce the Free Flow of Information Act, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) just announced that he will do so in the House, and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced a similar bill today. The administration…

IRS Abuses Power in Targeting Tea Party

IRS Abuses Power in Targeting Tea Party

By Michael Macleod-Ball, Chief of Staff, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:58am

The extraordinary revelation this week that the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party groups for more aggressive enforcement highlights exactly why caution is needed in any response to the much-vilified Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

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