Tag Archives | free speech

How Secretive Global Trade Talk Will Destroy the Internet

Pic: Gavin Schaefer (CC)

Pic: Gavin Schaefer (CC)

Patrick Smith of the Fiscal Times lays out how exactly the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership will effectively neuter the Internet as a bastion of free expression.

Via Fiscal Times

Wikileaks got a hold of this document after the 19th round of talks held in Brunei last August. What we have is what will be on the table in Salt Lake this week.

The U.S. and Japan will propose that a product can be patented even if it is just a clever twist on other products and “does not result in improved efficacy.” Everyone else at the table opposes that proposal (Article QQ.E.1). Australia wants marketing approval of agricultural chemicals in one country to count in other countries; the Chileans and Mexicans are tough talkers on this point (Article QQ.E.XXX).

The big stuff on the IP side concerns the internet and digital technology. And it does not come out well by the look of the draft.

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Kleargear.com Bills Woman $3500 For Writing a Negative Review

imagesAfter ordering several items from kleargear.com that never showed up, the Palmers did what most of us would do: They tried to contact the company for more information. When that failed to produce any results, they took to the internet and write a review of their experience at ripoffreport.com. What happened next may inspire us all to read the fine print buried in terms of sale agreements a little more closely.

Via KUTV:

That was the end of it, Jen thought, until three years later when Jen’s husband got an email from Kleargear.com demanding the post be removed or they would be fined. Kleargear.com says Jen violated a non-disparagement clause. It turns out that, hidden within the terms of sale on Kleargear.com there is a clause that reads:

“In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts kleargear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.”

The clause goes on to say if a consumer violates the contract they will have 72 hours to remove your post or face a $3500 fine.

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Messiah or Martin? Baby Naming Conundrum a Question of Constitutional Rights

I’m generally against the idea of a government authority telling parents what they can and cannot name their children, although only a fool would fail to realize the damage that saddling a child with an offensive or unconventional name can cause in his or her life. What do you do when you have a parent who wants to name their child “Adolph Hitler“, “Mafia No Fear“, or in this case, “Messiah”? When questions about free speech and religion become involved, things can get complicated.

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An unusual name isn’t always an impediment.

Via NY Times:

Last week, when a Tennessee judge forcibly changed an infant’s name from Messiah to Martin, it was hard to decide which was more noteworthy, the parents’ grandiosity in naming their child for the one they consider their Savior or the judge’s religious zealotry in prohibiting the name.

“The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” said Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.

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What’s So Great About Free Speech Anyway?

Odysseus and the SirensImagine the world’s various nations are like big boats floating along the ocean. The ship’s captains demand total silence on deck, they concentrate on where they’re going and its everyone else’s job to support them by agreeing the current course is the only realistic choice.

Then one of the boat’s captains invents a mad idea called “free speech” where people are allowed to criticise his choices. All the other captains are horrified, from their point of view this was a dangerous choice, it could result in mutiny.

Oddly, over time, a number of other ships try this “free speech” idea out. Why would any of them even entertain such an idea?

In short, it’s because it took only a small period for boats with “free speech” to gain massive advantages over the others. They began to spot their mistakes and correct them. This led to a massive upsurge in scientific development enabling them to build things like factories where they produced guns, tanks, bombs and so forth.… Read the rest

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Tell Me Lies: European Satellites Ordered To Drop Iranian Channels In Disregard of Free Speech

Back in the 1960’s, A British poet, Adrian Mitchell, one of the great bards of that era, wrote a poem that went on to become a stage show in the West End of London. It was called Tell Me Lies about Vietnam and represented one voice among millions in the world then opposing that War

It was addressed, “To Whom It May Concern” and began with words that became its refrain:

“I was run over by the truth one day

Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way

So stick my legs in plaster

Tell me lies about Vietnam”

Years later, before his death, (and I was at the memorial service in London) he kept rewriting the last paragraph into what he called a remix. The poem took on a more global statement

That verse was a play on a children’s song:

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out

You take the human being, and you twist it all about”

And then this line:

“Tell me lies about –

Iraq

Burma

Afghanistan

BAE Systems

Israel

Iran

He understood well that Iran was one of the countries his country and others in the West (and their sycophantic media) are telling lies about.… Read the rest

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Koch Brothers Pressuring Thousands Of Employees To Vote For Mitt Romney

In the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling granting First Amendment rights to corporations, companies such as Koch Industries are telling their employees whom they should vote for, while simultaneously forbidding workers from expressing political opinions, In These Times reports:

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.

Ironically, while the Kochs have been taking advantage of Citizens United to expand political communications to employees, they have also capitalized on weak labor laws to limit the political speech of those employees.

A new Georgia Pacific social media policy [PDF] implemented earlier this year that warns, “Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.

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Are Free Speech Zones Really Free?

Raul654 (CC)

The recent DNC and GOP conventions had so-called free speech zones, but there wasn’t much freedom on offer. Ann O’Neill reports for CNN:

Shane Brown squeezed through a gap between sections of a steel security fence 9 feet high, picked his way across a vacant lot infested with fire ants and climbed atop a rickety wooden platform. He stepped up and spoke into the microphone:

“God is a good, good God.”

His words were amplified over a hardscrabble patch of earth wedged against a highway the locals call the inner loop. White plastic trash bins stood sentry against litter, but there was no one there to fill them.

Brown, the first speaker to take the platform Wednesday at the official “free speech zone” of the Democratic National Convention, had an audience of just three — two city workers and a reporter. It was shortly before 3 p.m., and the place had been deserted since it opened five hours earlier.

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Pussy Riot Found Guilty By Russian Court

Игорь Мухин (CC)

[UPDATE: Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison.]

If there was ever any doubt that the judge would do what Vladimir Putin wanted, it has now been erased. Protests reacting to the verdict are in progress. Report from USA Today:

A Russian judge found three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism on Friday, in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history.

The judge said the three band members committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers.

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia’s president a few days later.

They face a maximum seven years in prison. The sentence is to be handed down later Friday.

The case has attracted international attention as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent.

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The Increased Criminalization of Dissent

Jason Wilson (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

American law enforcement agencies continue to increase their surveillance on an otherwise fairly complacent citizenry, logging an incredible amount of requests for information regarding cell phone and social media use.

Last week, a judge in New York ruled that Twitter must give a court close to three months of information from a user in a pending case involving an Occupy Wall Street protester arrested at a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge in October. In February, a subpoena from the New York City District Attorney’s office demanded the microblogging site, often used by protesters to update their followers on events happening on the street in real time, give up “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011” from user Malcolm Harris.” Harris (@destructuremal), managing editor for the New Inquiry online magazine was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge with 700 other demonstrators.… Read the rest

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