Archive for Freedom of Speech

Judicial Overreach? Judge issues lifetime gag order on children

Posted in Judicial Overreach with tags , , , on August 7, 2013 by saynsumthn

Two young children in Pennsylvania were banned from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives under a gag order imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company.

The sweeping gag order was imposed under a $750,000 settlement between the Hallowich family and Range Resources Corp, a leading oil and gas driller. It provoked outrage on Monday among environmental campaigners and free speech advocates.

The settlement, reached in 2011 but unsealed only last week, barred the Hallowichs’ son and daughter, who were then aged 10 and seven, from ever discussing fracking or the Marcellus Shale, a leading producer in America’s shale gas boom.

The Hallowich family had earlier accused oil and gas companies of destroying their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania and putting their children’s health in danger. Their property was adjacent to major industrial operations: four gas wells, gas compressor stations, and a waste water pond, which the Hallowich family said contaminated their water supply and caused burning eyes, sore throats and headaches.

Gag orders – on adults – are typical in settlements reached between oil and gas operators and residents in the heart of shale gas boom in Pennsylvania. But the company lawyer’s insistence on extending the lifetime gag order to the Hallowichs’ children gave even the judge pause, according to the court documents.

The family gag order was a condition of the settlement. The couple told the court they agreed because they wanted to move to a new home away from the gas fields, and to raise their children in a safer environment. “We need to get the children out of there for their health and safety,” the children’s mother, Stephanie Hallowich, told the court.

She was still troubled by the gag order, however. “My concern is that they’re minors. I’m not quite sure I fully understand. We know we’re signing for silence for ever but how is this taking away our children’s rights being minors now? I mean my daughter is turning seven today, my son is 10.”

Read The Guardian for the rest here

Democrats to continue Internet coup with new cyber bill

Posted in cyber security, Homeland Security, Internet with tags , , , on February 8, 2012 by saynsumthn

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, following a recent anti-piracy legislative debacle with SOPA and PIPA, will lead his second effort of 2012 to push Internet-regulating legislation, this time in the form of a new cybersecurity bill. The expected bill is the latest attempt by the Democrats to broadly expand the authority of executive branch agencies over the Internet.

Details about the bill remain shrouded in secrecy. Clues available to the public suggest that the bill might be stronger than President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity proposal, which was released in May 2011. Reid said that he would bring the bill — expected to come out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman — to the floor during the first Senate work period of 2012.

A classified meeting behind closed doors in October 2011 between key Senate committee leaders with jurisdiction over cybersecurity and White House officials, took place at the request of the Obama administration. Lieberman, in an interview with The Hill in October, said that past Senate cybersecurity bills were considerably stronger than the White House proposal.

The White House proposal recommended that the Department of Homeland Security be given broad regulatory authority for cybersecurity matters over civilian networks. The White House proposal also recommends that the DHS program be “developed in consultation with privacy and civil liberties experts and with the approval of the Attorney General.”
Read Rest here: http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/06/democrats-to-continue-internet-coup-with-new-cyber-bill/

REVERSAL ON: TSA to Block “Controversial Opinion” on the Web

Posted in free speech, Internet, Net Neutrality with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by saynsumthn

CBS: TSA Reverses “Controversial Opinion” Web Policy

Responding to a story first reported by CBS News on Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today said it, “uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization…”

According to an internal email obtained by CBS News, the TSA implemented a new policy blocking its employees from accessing any websites that contain a “controversial opinion” on work computers.

“This policy is terrible,” said Louis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute, a non-profit group that advocates for workplace rights. Maltby points out that anything on the internet could be deemed controversial and if blocked, in some cases, could cross the line of violating a worker’s right to information.

Employees of the TSA, responsible for nation’s airport security, were informed of the new policy Friday in an internal memo. The memo states that websites with a “controversial opinion” are “inappropriate for government access” in addition to any websites that have “Chat/Messaging”, “Criminal activity”, “Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content” and “Gaming” – all of which are now being blocked.

In response, the TSA sent the following statement to CBS News Tuesday:

TSA routinely makes improvements to our information technology systems to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats to keep our systems secure. As part of this continued effort, TSA uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization and in fact expressly created the TSA IdeaFactory and the TSA Blog to promote diverse opinions. TSA employees will be able to access web sites required for work purposes.”

In additon, a TSA spokesperson says the “TSA Blog was founded in 2008 to engage the public in an open dialogue and is open to both the public and employees.”

Original Report:

**Updated Blog 8:20 pm, 7/6/10: TSA Reverses “Controversial Opinion” Web Policy (ABOVE)
**Updated 7/6/10 with TSA response. Read the blog here.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency’s computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a “controversial opinion,” according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.
The email was sent to all TSA employees from the Office of Information Technology on Friday afternoon.
It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed “inappropriate for government access.”
The categories include:
??? Chat/Messaging
??? Controversial opinion
??? Criminal activity
??? Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
??? Gaming
The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a “controversial opinion.”
There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.
The TSA did not return calls seeking comment by publication time.

Kill Switch: Obama Can Shut Down Internet For 4 Months Under New Emergency Powers

Posted in free speech, Internet, Net Neutrality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by saynsumthn

Published on 06-25-2010

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday unanimously approved a major cybersecurity legislation that would structure how the federal government protects public and private sector cyber networks.

Crafted by Ranking Member Susan Collins and Sens. Joe Lieberman and Tom Carper, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 calls for the creation of a White House Office of Cyberspace Policy to spearhead federal and private sector efforts to secure critical cyber networks and assets. The office would be headed by a Senate-confirmed director who would be accountable to the public. The bill also creates a new center within the Department of Homeland Security to adopt cybersecurity policies related to federal and private sector networks.

“Catastrophic cyber attack is no longer a fantasy or a fiction,” Lieberman said. “It is a clear and present danger. This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America’s cyberspace. It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses. We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people.”

Collins said it is important to realize the threat of a catastrophic cyber attack is not theoretical, but very real. The sergeant at arms has reported the computer systems in executive branch agencies and in congressional agencies are now under cyber attack an average of 1.8 billion times a month, a number she called “extraordinary.”

“Cyber crime costs our national economy billions of dollars annually,” Collins said. “And intelligence officials have warned over and over again that these attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. The fact is: We cannot fail to act. We can’t wait until there is a cyber 9/11 and say, ‘Why didn’t we act? We knew this was coming.’ The attacks are ongoing even as we meet. So we must act, and I believe we have drafted a responsible bill to do so.”

Although society has reaped enormous benefits from the use of the Internet, adversaries have identified cyberspace as an ideal 21st-century battlefield, Carper said.
“We have to take steps now to modernize our approach to protecting this valuable, but vulnerable, resource,” he said. “This legislation is a vital tool that America needs to better protect cyber space. It encourages the government and the private sector to work together to address this growing threat and provides the tools and resources for America to be successful in this critical effort.”

DRUDGE:

Senator Joe Lieberman, co-author of a bill that would give President Obama a ‘kill switch’ to shut down parts of the Internet, attempted to reassure CNN viewers that concerns about the government regulating free speech on the web were overblown, but he only stoked more alarm by citing China, a country that censors all online dissent against the state, as the model to which American should compare itself.

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Lieberman characterized concerns that his 197-page Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PDF) legislation represents an attempt to hand Obama “absolute power” over the Internet as “total misinformation,” adding that people were “intentionally peddling misinformation”.

Lieberman again invoked “cybersecurity” as the motivation behind the bill and tried to assuage the worries of critics. “So I say to my friends on the Internet, relax. Take a look at the bill. And this is something that we need to protect our country,” said the Senator.

However, Lieberman’s choice of comparison in justifying the necessity of the bill will only serve to heighten concerns that the government is going after free speech.