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Goodlatte’s Online Trafficking Bill Makes Key Improvements, But Risks to Free Speech Persist

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a markup on HR 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). The Committee will consider an amendment to the original FOSTA in the form of a substitute bill offered by Chairman Goodlatte. This bill includes a number of improvements over both the original House bill and the SESTA bill in the Senate, and we appreciate the Committee’s diligent efforts to craft a more tailored legislative approach. But CDT remains concerned that increasing the risk of criminal charges and civil claims against website operators and other online intermediaries will result in overbroad censorship of constitutionally protected speech.  

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Tech Talk: Call Congress About Net Neutrality and Section 702

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where we dish on tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. In this episode, we talk about two core CDT policy issues – preserving net neutrality and limiting government surveillance. Both are facing major challenges in the United States and we hear from CDT’s leads on each about the path ahead.

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Automated “Extreme Vetting” Won’t Work and Will Be Discriminatory

Today, CDT joined 55 civil society groups, as well as leading computer and data science experts, to oppose the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) automated extreme vetting initiative. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to use automated technology and social media data to decide who gets deported or denied entry to the United States. This initiative is not only discriminatory but also technically infeasible.

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Security Research and the DMCA: The Copyright Office streamlines the exemption process

In late October, the Copyright Office announced that it plans to make it easier for people to fully use their lawfully purchased items, choose which mechanics work on their cars, and improve the security of software-enabled devices. Under current law, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s illegal to circumvent the technological protection measures (TPMs) that limit the use, modification, and repair of software. TPMs are ubiquitous; they’re in everything from smartphones to cars and coffee makers, acting as digital locks on the computer code within. And bypassing these locks can trigger criminal penalties, even with a good, non-infringing reason. However, the law also includes a process by which the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office can issue exemptions to this flat ban on circumvention. The triennial exemptions allow the bypassing of TPMs for certain non-infringing purposes, but these exemptions are only valid for three years.

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Anonymous Speech Online Dealt a Blow in US v. Glassdoor Opinion

First Amendment protections for anonymous speech online were dealt a serious blow earlier today when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in United States v. Glassdoor. In its opinion, the Court ruled in favor of the US government’s efforts to compel Glassdoor to unmask anonymous reviews of employers by employees posted on the site.

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Tech Talk: The Powers and Perils of Speech Online

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where we dish on tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. In this episode, we hear about the the powers and perils of free speech online from a journalist, a playwright, and a digital strategist turned political candidate.

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DHS’s Misguided Social Media Retention Policy Jeopardizes Fundamental Freedoms

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alarming notice that DHS would now retain social media information in Alien-Files (A-Files). A-Files are government records, generated in the immigration context, that include the records of an individual as they pass through the United States immigration process, and are retained by DHS for 100 years after the individual’s birthdate. This retention of social media information should not be brushed off as ‘business as usual’ for DHS. This policy, and its negative consequences for the free expression and privacy rights of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.

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Ethics, Consequence, and Free Speech Online

As the pace of technology increases, the definition of “the internet” is ever changing (e.g., the IoT space, virtual reality, etc.), so trying to nail down what should and shouldn’t be protected speech quickly becomes a bit of a harrowing task for any individual citizen. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Playwright Jennifer Haley’s remarks at our Future of Speech Online event highlighted the fact that these aren’t just decisions to be made in a vacuum.

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An Optimistic Realist About Speech Online

Like many of us working in tech and tech policy, Mindy Finn started out as an extreme optimist about how the internet could make the world a better place. For better or worse, she is no longer a “sunny idealist,” but instead, a realist. In her remarks at the Future of Speech Online, Finn, touched on some of the most pressing challenges that technology poses to a functioning democracy.

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Tech Talk: Pai and Mckesson on the Future of Speech Online

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where we dish on tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. In this episode, we hear from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Civil Rights Activist DeRay Mckesson. Both were speakers at The Future of Speech Online and offered their thoughts on what the future holds for internet empowered speech.

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