Tag Archives: First Amendment

Groups Weigh In On Drone Privacy

By Rani Gupta More than 50 commenters have offered their thoughts on privacy and transparency issues regarding non-government use of unmanned aircraft systems, better known as drones or UAS. The comments responded to a request by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.  As we previously reported, the NTIA is planning a multi-stakeholder process to formulate … Continue Reading

Court Denies Company’s Request for Identity of Online Commenter

A New York state trial court last week rejected a publicly traded company’s request to obtain the identity of an individual who anonymously wrote negative comments about the company on an online financial bulletin board. In February 2014, an individual with the pseudonym “Pump Terminator” posted an article about Nanoviricides, Inc. on www.seekingalpha.com, a financial … Continue Reading

Do We Have a Right to Online Anonymity? Depends On Which Judge You Ask

The Edward Snowden leaks have forced Americans to question whether the government monitors their online activities.  But intelligence-gathering is not the only government threat to Internet privacy: plaintiffs in defamation cases are using court subpoenas to attempt to unmask Internet users’ identities. In some seedy corners of the Internet, commenters use the veil of anonymity … Continue Reading

First Amendment Protects ‘Liking’ on Social Media

A federal appellate court on Wednesday ruled that the First Amendment protects the act of “liking” on Facebook or other social media. In Bland v. Roberts, a sheriff’s deputy “liked” the Facebook page of the candidate who was challenging the incumbent sheriff in the upcoming elections. After the incumbent won re-election, the deputy was fired. … Continue Reading

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Media Shield Law

By Kurt Wimmer and Jeff Kosseff The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would prevent federal prosecutors, agencies and civil litigants from forcing journalists to reveal their confidential sources without court approval. In a 13-5 vote, the committee approved S. 987, the Free Flow of Information Act (FFIA), which is sponsored by … Continue Reading

Courts Recognize First Amendment Right to Social Media Use

A North Carolina appellate court recently held that a statewide ban on sex offenders’ access to social media violates the First Amendment.  The opinion is the latest in a string of recent federal and state court decisions to recognize a First Amendment right to access social media.  In 2008, North Carolina’s General Assembly enacted the … Continue Reading

New Statutes Proposed in the Wake of AP Spying Scandal

Recent news that the U.S. Justice Department obtained telephone records for two months covering more than 100 journalists working for the Associated Press has prompted lawmakers to propose new statutes meant to strengthen protections against the kinds of requests that our Jeff Kosseff described as “undermin[ing]” the “entire Fourth Estate.”… Continue Reading

First Amendment Does Not Protect Hackers’ Identities, NJ Court Holds

The First Amendment does not protect the identities of computer hackers, a New Jersey appellate court held this month. Warren Hospital alleges that two anonymous individuals hacked into its web and email servers and sent inappropriate and defamatory messages to all hospital employees.  The hospital and some employees filed a civil action against the John … Continue Reading

Michigan Court Rejects First Amendment Balancing Test for Online Anonymous Speech

A Michigan appellate court ruled last week that state discovery rules provide adequate safeguards for anonymous online speech.  The opinion is a significant deviation from the rulings of other state courts, which have applied a First Amendment balancing test to determine whether to grant discovery requests for the identities of anonymous online speakers. Thomas M. … Continue Reading

Facebook, ACLU Argue that “Like” Button is Protected Speech

This week, Facebook and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed amicus curiae briefs in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that using Facebook’s “Like” button is speech protected by the First Amendment.  The court of appeals is considering whether to overturn a decision by Eastern District of Virginia Judge Raymond A. … Continue Reading

NY Legislature Introduces Bills to Curtail Anonymous Online Commenting

Two bills have been proposed in the New York State Legislature that aim to de-anonymize online commenting. The proposed Internet Protection Act — introduced in the identical bills S.6779 and A.8688 —would amend New York civil rights law to require a website administrator upon request to “remove any comments posted on his or her web … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Reaffirms Application of First Amendment to Children

Last week, the Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in the Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association case.  Justice Scalia, writing for Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, held that a California law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, and mandating “18” labels for such games, violates the First Amendment. The decision is not … Continue Reading