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NVMojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 03:51 PM
Original message
Is Online Free Speech In Danger?
Two proposed laws are threatening freedom of speech, advocacy group says.
Grant Gross, IDG News Service
Friday, August 04, 2006 08:00 AM PDT

WASHINGTON -- Freedom of speech online is under its fiercest threats in a decade because of two proposals in the U.S. Congress, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said.

"Free speech online is facing some of its most serious assaults" since the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was passed in late 1998, said Leslie Harris, executive director of CDT, a civil liberties advocacy group. One of those proposals would require schools and libraries to block Internet chat and social networking tools.

The U.S. government continues to spend millions of dollars to fight successful court challenges to COPA, which required adult-themed Web sites to get proof of age before allowing Web surfers to access adult content, the CDT said this week.

On July 26, the House of Representatives passed the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), which would ban social networking Web sites and instant messaging programs from schools and libraries. And a provision requiring Web sites with sexually related content to include warning labels is included in a wide-ranging broadband bill awaiting action in the Senate.

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nosillies Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-06-06 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'm preparing to get flamed here
I've been reading all of the previous posts on this topic, and while I think that none of the provisions in this law while stop pedophilia or do much of anything, I don't see it as the great threat to free speech that some do.

My employer blocks certain websites at work. They pay for the equipment, they pay for my time when I'm there, so I have no problem with this. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it censorship? No, I can still say and do whatever I want. Thank goodness there's more to me than the websites I visit. It's just that if I want to check my Hotmail account, I have to wait until I get home.

I used to run a computer lab at a school. The school district blocked lots of websites. This is probably already happening at most schools in most school districts in the nation, and somehow we're all coping. Just as there are sites that are not appropriate for work, there are sites that are not appropriate for school. Are the kids there to learn, or are they there to post pics and IM their friends? Will any student really become oppressed or become a failure because they couldn't access MySpace for 8 or so hours a day?

Anyway, most kids already know how to do a Google proxy or something else to get around site blocks!

Go ahead, chew me out!
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brianmckenna Donating Member (8 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-02-06 01:11 AM
Response to Original message
2. Judicial Censorship is illegal but no one cares
There is not much in the press about amendment e. The State has its hands full defending against the censorship by a State Judge of a website that supports amendment E.

Newspapers such as the Yankton Press and Dakotan will not print paid election ads supporting amendment E. The Judge runs the town of Yankton.

The Judges Order is illegal on 2 fronts. A Judge can not censor a political website and the one of the parties committed perjury. Not just a small lie but out right perjury. Claimed she never used her ex's social security number but his number appears on her credit report. The Judge ignored the proof of her credit report. The only way is could appear on her credit report is if she used it in a financial transaction. The Yankton Sheriff knows and even wrote a letter he knows of social security number fraud but it is not his problem.

The South Dakota Supreme Court wants a Grand to hear the case. Justice has a price.

Maybe he could right a bunk of no account checks using fake social security numbers as that is what judges favor in South Dakota

None of the U.S Senators or House of Rep wants to do anything as it is a hot potato best to stay away from.

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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-08-06 10:00 AM
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wordsmith2007 Donating Member (2 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-07-07 01:22 AM
Response to Original message
4. Nosy Employers--An Even Greater Danger to Our Online (and Other) Freedom of Speech
As frightening as the threats facing our freedom of speech and
expression online and elsewhere coming from Congress might be,
there is now yet a greater and more terrifying threat to our
most basic freedoms today, especially when it comes to the
Internet as a tool for free expression and organizing for
change--*out-of-control private employers who see it as a
great way to snoop into our off-hours political activities*
and, in many cases, punish anyone not willing to swallow
Corporate America's right-wing line by firing, refusing to
hire or promote, or otherwise adversely treat employees and
job applicants.

As a longtime progressive political activist, I have found
that many people, especially in today's deliberately
job-scarce economy, are now hesitant to take part in any form
of political activism--writing a letter to a newspaper,
calling a radio talk show, posting something on the Internet,
taking part in a march or a rally--for fear that their
employer might somehow frown on such actions.

Have any of you ever actually encountered employment
discrimination for your own off-hours political activities,
known of anyone else who has, or merely experienced the fear
of it or encountered it from someone else? If so, tell us your
story on this board. Your experiences--and this vital
issue--matter to us all.

Today, the Internet, credit bureaus, and like means make it
frighteningly easy for employers to snoop into job applicants'
or employees' personal beliefs and activities.

Indeed, five years ago, during a long job hunt after a layoff,
I was once denied a plum job as an editor with a nonprofit
educational association in part because of what the employer,
when I challenged its vague (and contradiction-ridden) claim
of things being simply a matter of "subtle factors"
involving "fit"--meanwhile, I suspected and alleged
sex discrimination (the editorial department involved was
all-female and stayed so)--called, in McCarthyesque terms, my
"record" of involvement in "controversial
issues," namely, feminism and children's
rights--certainly never brought up in any interview or
correspondence, but found after the "responsible"
employer decided to do an Internet search.

Employment discrimination based on one's off-the-job political
activities, indeed, seems to have risen in our
"Bushed" economy to a level not known since the era
of McCarthyism, with its blacklisting and "political

For example, as has been widely reported, including in a story
on CBS's _60 Minutes_, Lynne Gobbell of Alabama was in 2004
fired from her job at a manufacturing plant for having a John
Kerry bumper sticker on her personal car. (After the case made
world headlines, she was offered a job--indeed, one with
health insurance--by the Kerry campaign, but few employees
thus treated are that fortunate.)

This sleazy practice, too, while disturbing and reprehensible,
is in many states (mine included) still legal. 

This, coupled with modern technology, leads down even darker
inroads against your and my most basic rights. In the name of
making sure that only the "right" types of people
are hired, perhaps in the name of making sure employees have
the "right" attitudes and, to use that now-favorite
corporate buzz word, are a good "fit" (read: are
sufficiently cowed and properly docile to accept existing
abuses and any possible future ones the employer might decide
to inflict), why not require employees and job applicants to
submit to employer monitoring--don't laugh; the technology for
this is already widely available!--of whatever they, even
(indeed, especially) on their own time and off employer
premises, read, watch, or listen to; who they associate with
and what kinds of organizations they participate in; what Web
sites they visit and what they send or receive online; and the

We can't have employees who read, much less write, postings
like this one, read books like David Sirota's _Hostile
Takeover_ or Thom Hartmann's _Screwed_, or otherwise explore,
much less spread, ideas about "controversial
matters" that the employer might not like, such as
notions about fairer tax policies and a stronger "social
safety net," or--horror of horrors--about (gasp!)
employees and job applicants actually having rights and about
even daring to regulate business to stop privacy abuses, pay
inequities, the destruction of health-care, pension, and other
benefits, or the like, now, can we?

Heaven knows that any such person might actually think--and
question corporatocracy, get others to do the same, or,
perhaps worst of all, even think that decent pay and benefits,
due process on the job, and--gasp!--labor unions--are good
things!  Such people might actually start spreading such ideas
to fellow employees and other working people!  Gotta protect
that almighty bottom line and the freedom to select our
employees and run our businesses as we see fit!

The power employers thus wield over every aspect of our
lives--including our ability to seek and win improvements in
our lives at work, in our pocketbooks, and elsewhere--must be

We need state and federal legislation like California's, which
specifically forbids employers from dictating or attempting to
dictate employees' political activity. Better yet, every state
and Congress should adopt legislation, as a few states have,
protecting the right of employees and job applicants to engage
in any lawful off-hours, off-premises activities they choose
without fear of employment discrimination.

Generally, such activities are none of an employer's business
unless they pose an actual and substantial conflict of
interest or otherwise materially and substantially impair
one's ability to do one's job. Mere dislike of or disagreement
with a worker's political views or skittishness about
"company image" or possible "controversy"
is not enough.

Ironically, the fear that many workers now have of employment
discrimination based on their political activities is the very
thing that keeps them from taking the steps, both as
individuals and with others, to bring about an end to this and
related abuses. It is also a significant brake on long-needed,
long-overdue social and economic progress in America--indeed,
to efforts to stop this country's headlong rush, especially
under George W. Bush and his ilk, back to the days of Herbert
Hoover--indeed, of William McKinley.

It is time to reclaim your and our rights--before they are
lost forever, before we are all forced to live at the mercy of
out-of-control employers in a nationwide, high-tech version of
the company town that controls not only our work tasks but our
other actions, our minds, and our souls "24/7." It
is not about the bottom line; it's about power and control.
We, the people, must reclaim our rights.

In the famous words of Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice
Edward G. Ryan, words that indelibly impressed University of
Wisconsin student Robert M. La Follette--later to be widely
considered Wisconsin's greatest governor: "The question
will arise, and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in
mine: 'Which shall rule--wealth or man? Which shall
lead--money or intellect? Who shall fill public
stations--educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs
of corporate wealth?'" (Of course, I'd prefer Ryan have
used nonsexist language!)

So write your state and national lawmakers, your governor,
and, yes, even President Bush, and urge them all to support
legislation protecting the rights of employees and job
applicants to engage in lawful off-hours,
off-employer-premises activities without fear of employment

Urge them also to replace the dangerous prevailing concept of
"employment at will"--under which an employer,
absent law or contract provision to the contrary, may fire any
employee for any reason, no reason, or even a bad or morally
wrong reason--with a "just cause" standard, similar
to the law now in Montana.

Every worker deserves and has the right to this most basic of
protections. "Employment at will" (read: employment
at whim) literally does mean that "they can fire you if
they don't like the way you part your hair." This, too,
is outrageous. This must end. 

As Alexander Hamilton said over 200 years ago, the power over
a person's subsistence is a power over that person's will. The
history of liberty and justice in America has often
involved--indeed, required--regulating and limiting not only
the power of our public governments but the power of such
"private governments" as corporations and other
employers over individuals, their choices, and their rights.
So take action today!

Let's say to employers: Our skills, attention, and loyalty are
yours eight hours a day, 40 hours a week; the rest of our
lives belong to us, and to us alone. For not only ourselves
but our fellow citizens and future generations, we are taking
back our lives, our privacy, and our rights.

For more information about these and related issues, check out
these links:

Let us all know what you think of this.

Thanks for your time and thought--and even more for your

"In a certain sense the suspicious Tories and militant
are right:  intellect *is* dangerous.  Left free, there is
nothing it will 
not reconsider, analyze, throw into question."

--Richard Hofstadter, _Anti-intellectualism in American Life_
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