Tag Archive for ‘Freedom of Speech’

Montana Has Already Been Sued Over Its TikTok Ban ➝

Dan Frieth, writing for Reclaim the Net:

This week, Montana’s Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a law banning TikTok on all devices in the state. Five TikTok content creators in the state filed a lawsuit to challenge the law, which takes effect on January 1, 2024.

This seemed inevitable. And the law will almost certainly be turned over in the courts.

➝ Source: reclaimthenet.org

Abridging the Freedom of Speech ➝

From the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If a government entity requests that legal content be removed from a social network, that’s a violation of the first amendment, right? And given the key word “abridging” in the amendment, wouldn’t it also be a violation if a government entity requested that legal content be hidden or otherwise down-ranked within the service’s algorithm?

➝ Source: constitution.congress.gov

Leaked Documents Outline Government Plan to Police Speech ➝

This is a pretty blatant violation of the first amendment and, sadly, not surprising to those of us that have been paying attention. There needs to be a class action lawsuit for anyone that was suspended or banned from these platforms for discussing the topics that were targeted.

➝ Source: theintercept.com

Cloudflare Blocks Kiwi Farms ➝

Matthew Prince, writing on Cloudflare’s weblog:

We have blocked Kiwifarms. Visitors to any of the Kiwifarms sites that use any of Cloudflare’s services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post. Kiwifarms may move their sites to other providers and, in doing so, come back online, but we have taken steps to block their content from being accessed through our infrastructure.

This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with. However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and specific, targeted threats have escalated over the last 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before.

If there was illegal content published on Kiwi Farms that was not removed by moderators, I can certainly understand this decision. Interestingly, though, it’s not mentioned whether or not Cloudflare attempted to notify Kiwi Farms’ owner about the content — only mentioning that it was reported to law enforcement.

Kiwi Farms has addressed this in their Telegram channel:

Cloudflare’s decision to block the site was done without any discussion. The message I’ve received is a vague suspension notice. The message from Matthew Prince is unclear. If there is any threat to life on the site, I have received no communication from any law enforcement.

Given that Cloudflare made this decision because they believed there to be an imminent threat and the seeming reluctance they had in doing so, I’m curious if this is even a permanent suspension. It isn’t mentioned as such in Cloudflare’s statement, they only refer to this move as “blocking”. If the illegal content is removed from the forum and Kiwi Farms cooperates with law enforcement — at least to the extent required by law — will the suspension be lifted?

➝ Source: blog.cloudflare.com

Cloudflare’s Abuse Policies and Approach ➝

Matthew Prince and Alissa Starzak, writing on Cloudflare’s weblog:

Thousands of times per day we receive calls that we terminate security services based on content that someone reports as offensive. Most of these don’t make news. Most of the time these decisions don’t conflict with our moral views. Yet two times in the past we decided to terminate content from our security services because we found it reprehensible. […]

In a deeply troubling response, after both terminations we saw a dramatic increase in authoritarian regimes attempting to have us terminate security services for human rights organizations — often citing the language from our own justification back to us.

Since those decisions, we have had significant discussions with policy makers worldwide. From those discussions we concluded that the power to terminate security services for the sites was not a power Cloudflare should hold. Not because the content of those sites wasn’t abhorrent — it was — but because security services most closely resemble Internet utilities.

Just as the telephone company doesn’t terminate your line if you say awful, racist, bigoted things, we have concluded in consultation with politicians, policy makers, and experts that turning off security services because we think what you publish is despicable is the wrong policy. To be clear, just because we did it in a limited set of cases before doesn’t mean we were right when we did. Or that we will ever do it again.

If you aren’t aware, there’s been an activist campaign attempting to convince Cloudflare to drop Kiwi Farms — an internet forum that allows nearly all legal speech and whose users often go far beyond what is typically allowed on mainstream platforms.

It’s an unenviable situation to be in for Cloudflare, to say the least, but I think they ultimately made the right decision. As abhorrent as some of the content on Kiwi Farms is, if we don’t have web service companies that are willing to work with sites that host any and all legal content — even in its most despicable forms — then we simply don’t have freedom of speech online.

Of course, there are limits on legal speech and you may believe that the current line that differentiates lawful from unlawful speech should be shifted. But the best way forward to that end is legislatively, not by pressuring companies to terminate services. Because that is a slippery slope.

➝ Source: blog.cloudflare.com

DHS Pauses Disinformation Governance Board ➝

Tom Parker, writing for Reclaim the Net:

After being threatened with legal action, accused of being a violation of the First Amendment, and facing mass condemnation, the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) “Disinformation Governance Board” has been paused and its head, Nina Jankowicz, has resigned.

The board was an absolutely abhorrent idea and I expect it would have been dismantled in the courts if it ever got off the ground. Hopefully this “pause” is permanent.

➝ Source: reclaimthenet.org

Department of Homeland Security Introduces ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ ➝

Dan Frieth, writing for Reclaim the Net:

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the formation of the board to the House Appropriations DHS Subcommittee on Wednesday, saying: “Our Undersecretary for Policy, Rob Silvers is co-chair with our Principal Deputy General Counsel, Jennifer Gaskell, in leading a just recently constituted misinformation disinformation governance board. So we’re bringing – the goal is to bring the resources of the department together to address this threat.”

Mayorkas said that the new board would fall under the Biden’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships and it would have no authority to crack down on disinformation directly and will instead funnel funds to various causes it thinks are impacted by disinformation.

Nina Jankovicz, the woman named as head of the board, made public statements in 2020 that indicate that she “would never want to see the executive branch have these sorts of powers.” And yet, here we are.

We should never give our government powers that we wouldn’t want our opposition party to have access to. I always try to think of government initiatives through that lens because your preferred representative isn’t always going to win elections.

The bottom line is, this is an absolutely awful idea. And feels like a not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to subvert the first amendment.

➝ Source: reclaimthenet.org

Firefox Removes Yandex and Mail.ru Search ➝

Rick Findlay, writing for Reclaim the Net:

Mozilla has pushed a new release of its Firefox browser with one notable change; it will no longer have Yandex, the Russian search engine, and Mail.ru as options.

That’s fine. If Mozilla decides to remove these as options for search within Firefox, they have every right to do so. But it gets worse.

From the release notes:

If you previously installed a customized version of Firefox with Yandex or Mail.ru, offered through partner distribution channels, this release removes those customizations, including add-ons and default bookmarks. Where applicable, your browser will revert back to default settings, as offered by Mozilla.

Again, removing the built-in option from the browser is fine. Users could always add it as a custom search engine, if they so choose. But for people who are already using Yandex or Mail.ru as their search engine, have these add-ons installed, or have the bookmarks they’re referring to — it’s more than a little over the line for them to just remove them with an update.

A much more gracefully way to handle this would have been to display a modal to the affected users the first time they launch the browser after upgrading, asking if they’d like to change their search engine, remove the add-ons, and/or bookmarks. But the user should have the option to decline this change.

I don’t use Yandex or Mail.ru and don’t have any of the unnamed add-ons or bookmarks in my browser — I don’t even use Firefox anymore — but I find it incredibly distasteful that a browser maker would just change defaults on users like this without their consent.

➝ Source: reclaimthenet.org