Freedom of Expression

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"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:54am
A story out of Utah this week neatly showcased the rising concerns among civil liberties and press freedom groups around so-called "ag-gag" laws, which, in various ways, make it illegal to document animal abuse on factory farms and other agricultural businesses. In Utah, authorities charged a local woman with taking photographs of animal cruelty from a public vantage point, and then quickly dropped the charges after significant public outcry.
The $338,000 Internet Comment

The $338,000 Internet Comment

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:00am

We’ve written before about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1998 — a federal law that protects the robust diversity of free speech we’ve come to know and love (and hate) on the Internet. Last night, the ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky…

Nothing to See Here! Censoring 'The Innocence of Muslims'

Nothing to See Here! Censoring 'The Innocence of Muslims'

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:32pm

It's likely you haven't escaped the roiling controversy generated by the film The Innocence of Muslims. This "film" has alternately been described as: a deliberate provocation of Muslims, a launching point for a conversation about free speech, a trigger…

Relax, It’s Not the Thought Police

Relax, It’s Not the Thought Police

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:19pm

I get paid to defend unpopular speech. And, I’m the first to jump at the slightest hint of government censorship or coercion in the free market of ideas, as our recent comments critical of the IRS’s plans to regulate non-partisan political speech…

Unfrackingbelievable

Unfrackingbelievable

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:40pm

Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette managed to unseal an extraordinary court transcript. In it, a local court approved an unusual settlement agreement between the Hallowich family and several natural gas companies, including Texas-based…

Banned Books Week 2013: Books about LGBT Families Remain Targets of Censorship

Banned Books Week 2013: Books about LGBT Families Remain Targets of Censorship

By Joshua Block, LGBT Project at 1:54pm

2013 has been a landmark year for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families. In June the Supreme Court struck down...

Court Rules That Facebook ‘Likes’ Are Free Speech

Court Rules That Facebook ‘Likes’ Are Free Speech

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:53pm

A federal appeals court today issued an important decision that reaffirms everyone’s right to speak freely on the Internet. The three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found unanimously that, as we argued in our friend-of-the-court-brief…

The Business of Financing Hate Groups: Legal to Censor, but Unwise

The Business of Financing Hate Groups: Legal to Censor, but Unwise

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:23am

It's so tempting to go for the easy answer. Credit card companies are private businesses. They generally have the right...

VIDEO: 'We Steal Secrets' Director Discusses WikiLeaks, Manning, and More With the ACLU

VIDEO: 'We Steal Secrets' Director Discusses WikiLeaks, Manning, and More With the ACLU

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 10:13am

Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning director of the new documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” joined the ACLU’s Ben Wizner to talk whistleblowers, accountability, and government efforts to plug leaks.

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The start of the Bradley Manning trial this week comes against the backdrop of a broader crackdown on journalists and their sources, who play a critical role in exposing the government’s growing arsenal of secrets. Gibney and Wizner discuss the charges against Manning, and whether recent investigations—including both those against Fox News reporter James Rosen and WikiLeaks—indicate a creeping criminalization of the journalistic activity that is critical for a healthy democracy.

The result, as “We Steal Secrets” demonstrates—as does “Taxi to the Dark Side,” Gibney’s Oscar-winning documentary exploring the Bush administration’s torture regime—is an erosion of the mechanisms designed to make government both transparent and accountable for its mistakes and even crimes. Gibney asks, “Within the context of a government that’s making everything secret, there comes a point where, if there aren’t leaks, then how are we to hold the government ever to account?”

(WikiLeaks, for its part, took issue with its portrayal in “We Steal Secrets”—read some of the organization’s objections here.)

Standing Up for the Rights of Students to Free Expression

Standing Up for the Rights of Students to Free Expression

By Mary Beth Tinker at 11:39am

I have zero tolerance for schools that punish students for exercising their First Amendment rights. Students like Wesley Teague, who joked about his school's athletic department and Kyron Birdine, who was suspended for mocking standardized tests, did…

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