civil liberties

Flag Day

The US flag with all its stripes and a few of its stars was adopted by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. But today, overpriced textbooks and underpaid schoolteachers have sanitized most of our history and hidden the early controversies while fluffing half-truths, leaving us unclear about what that flag really stands […] » about 300 words

Remixability vs. Business Self Interest vs. Libraries and the Public Good

I’ve been talking a lot about remixability lately, but Nat Torkington just pointed out that the web services and APIs from commercial organizations aren’t as infrastructural as we might think. Offering the example of Amazon suing Alexaholic (for remixing Alexa’s data), he tells us that APIs are not “a commons of goodies to be built […] » about 400 words

Network-Enabled Snooping In The Physical World

We’ve got OCR. We’ve got cameraphones. We’ve got web-based license plate lookup services. Amazon Japan has a fancy cameraphone-based product search feature. What’s more naive, imagining that somewhere somebody has a SMS/MMS-based license plate snooping and facial recognition services and fingerprint scanners, or imagining that they don’t? cameraphone, civil liberties, facial recognition, license plate recognition, […] » about 100 words

The Perils Of Flickr’s “May Offend” Button

Quite a while ago now, stepinrazor asked people to do some self-censorhip in a post in the Flickr Ideas forum. FlyButtafly quickly joined the discussion, noting that she’d encountered some material she found offensive in pictures from other Flickr members: “as I’m going through the pictures, one shows up of a protestor holding a sign […] » about 1300 words

Burning Patriotism

My feelings on the Flag Burning Desecration Amendment should have been clear from my Flag Day story. Still, let me offer the t-shirts above as confirmation. america, burn, citizenship, civil liberties, civil liberty, first amendment, flag burning, flag desecration, flag desecration amendment, free speech, liberty, patriot, patriotism, rights » about 100 words

Homeland Security: Now Policing Porn?

The Washington Post reports two men in uniforms bearing “Homeland Security” insignia walked into a Bethesda library in early February, announced that viewing of internet pornography was forbidden, and began questioning patrons. The men asked one library user to step outside just before a librarian intervened. Then…

the two men [and the librarian] went into the library’s work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

As it turns out, the men were legitimate homeland security officers, members of the county’s force, though it seems nobody was quite clear about why they were there.

Montgomery County’s chief administrative officer, Bruce Romer, issued a statement calling the incident “unfortunate” and “regrettable” — two words that bureaucrats often deploy when things have gone awry. He said the officers had been reassigned to other duties.

Thing is, regardless of your feelings about porn, please tell me how it relates to homeland security? Perhaps they’ve given up policing copyright?

Radical, Militant Librarian

The ALA’s Intellectual Freedom folks came up with this Radical, Militant Librarian button (which I found in Library Mistress’ photostream): In recognition of the efforts of librarians to help raise awareness of the overreaching aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is offering librarians an opportunity […] » about 200 words

Dance Dance Revolution, NYC

I caught the following story on NPR’s All Things Considered (RealAudio stream) last night: New York is known for its vibrant nightlife, yet in many bars and restaurants it’s illegal to dance. Now, a law professor is challenging the “Cabaret Laws,” claiming they violate a dancer’s right of free expression. The city says dancing by […] » about 300 words

What Bloggers Need To Know About Cahill v. Doe

Wendy Seltzer alerts us to the Delaware Supreme Court’s ruling last week in Cahill v. Doe, a case that tested our rights to anonymity online, as well as the standard for judging defamation.

As it turns out, the court decided against the plaintiff, a city councilman, and protected the identity of “Proud Citizen,” who the councilman accused of posting defamatory remarks in an online forum. Further, it also decided that the context of the remarks “a chatroom filled with invective and personal opinion” are “not a source of facts or data upon which a reasonable person would rely.”

In short, as Seltzer points out, the ruling hold readers responsible for seeing materials in the context they’re presented in:

The standard empowers a wide range of bloggers’ speech. Because readers can use context to help them differentiate opinions from statements of fact, bloggers are freer to publish their choice of opinionated gossip or citizen journalism. And thanks to courts like Cahill and Dendrite, they can do so using pseudonyms or their real names.