November 22, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, November 16 — November 22, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from November 16 – November 22.

Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Misinformation, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

Yes, you have a right to record the police

After Satanists Plan to Give Away Coloring Books, School Board Considers Banning Religious Distributions Altogether [Orange County, FL]

Could rapper go to prison for cutting rap album? [San Diego]

[VA] Woman posts “love” of ISIS on Facebook, charged with “promoting” terrorism

Manassas City [VA] detective in teen ‘sexting’ case sues teen’s lawyer for defamation

 

Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles

Obama and Scalia, United on Broadband as a Utility

F.C.C. Chief Aims to Bolster Internet for Schools

The FCC wants to give educators an extra $1.5 billion a year for Internet

Pay Phones in New York City Will Become Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on FCC’s E-rate proposal

 

Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

USA Freedom Act stalls in the Senate

Mail Monitoring Rarely Denied, Postal Service Says

U.S., Israeli companies supply spy gear to repressive regimes, report says

Virginia Police Have Been Secretively Stockpiling Private Phone Records

Judge unseals info on secret cellphone spying

 

November 17, 2014

It’s now or (almost) never for real NSA reform; contacting Congress today critical!

Crossposted courtesy of the ALA Washington Office’s District Dispatch blog:

It was mid-summer when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, answered the House of Representative’s passage of an unacceptably weak version of the USA FREEDOM Act by introducing S. 2685, a strong, bipartisan bill of his own. Well, it’s taken until beyond Veterans Day, strong lobbying by civil liberties groups and tech companies, and a tough stand by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but Leahy’s bill and real National Security Agency (NSA) reform may finally get an up or down vote in the just-opened “lame duck” session of the U.S. Senate. That result is very much up in the air, however, as this article goes to press.

Now is the time for librarians and others on the front lines of fighting for privacy and civil liberties to heed ALA President Courtney Young’s September call to “Advocate. Today.” And we do mean today. Here’s the situation:

Thanks to Majority Leader Reid, Senators will cast a key procedural vote late on Tuesday afternoon that is, in effect, “do or die” for proponents of meaningful NSA reform in the current Congress. If Senators Reid and Leahy, and all of us, can’t muster 60 votes on Tuesday night just to bring S. 2685 to the floor, then the overwhelming odds are–in light of the last election’s results–that another bill as good at reforming the USA PATRIOT Act as Senator Leahy’s won’t have a prayer of passage for many, many years.

Even if reform proponents prevail on Tuesday, however, our best intelligence is that some Senators will offer amendments intended to neuter or at least seriously weaken the civil liberties protections provided by Senator Leahy’s bill. Other Senators will try to strengthen the bill but face a steep uphill battle to succeed.

Soooooo….. now is the time for all good librarians (and everyone else) to come to the aid of Sens. Leahy and Reid, and their country. Acting now is critical . . . and it’s easy. Just click here to go to ALA’s Legislative Action Center. Once there, follow the user-friendly prompts to quickly find and send an e-mail to both of your U.S. Senators (well, okay, their staffs but they’ll get the message loud and clear) and to your Representative in the House. Literally a line or two is all you, and the USA FREEDOM Act, need. Tell ‘em:

  • The NSA’s telephone records “dragnet,” and “gag orders” imposed by the FBI without a judge’s approval, under the USA PATRIOT Act must end;
  • Bring Sen. Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Act to the floor of the Senate now; and
  • Pass it without any amendments that make it’s civil liberties protections weaker (but expanding them would be just fine) before this Congress ends!

Just as in the last election, in which so many races were decided by razor thin margins, your e-mail “vote” could be the difference between finally reforming the USA PATRIOT Act. . . or not. With the key vote on Tuesday night, there’s no time to lose. As President Young wrote: “Advocate. Today.”

November 15, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, November 9 — November 15, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from November 9 – November 15.

Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Misinformation, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

Book ban vote in Kennett: Censorship dies an ugly death [Kennett Square, PA]

High School Students Face Charges After Suburban Sexting Scandal [Lake County, IL]

Twitter Testing Secret Filter To Stop Abuse: Is That A Good Thing Or An Attack On Free Speech?

Limbaugh threatens to sue DCCC for ‘out of context’ quotes about sexual consent

The FBI Is Offended That It Isn’t Allowed To Control How The Press Portrays Its Deceptive Activities

 

Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles

Net Neutrality: President Obama’s Plan for a Free and Open Internet

Is net neutrality really ‘Obamacare for the internet’?

Accessible Americas: Information and Communications for All

Conservatives Overwhelmingly Back Net Neutrality, Poll Finds

Bad government Web sites are bad for democracy

 

Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

China suspected of breaching U.S. Postal Service computer networks

Firefox plots a fully anonymous Internet

Senate poised to vote on USA Freedom Act as early as next week

Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era

Facebook Rolls Out Clearer Privacy Policy, But You Still Can’t Control Your Data

November 12, 2014

Nominations open for Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity

Librarians face adversity every day, whether they are defending a book that has been challenged or fighting to provide services on a limited budget.

If you know a beleaguered librarian, now is your chance to give that person some much needed recognition by nominating them for the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity.

ALA is currently accepting nominations through Monday Dec. 1, 2014 for this award. The prize consists of $3,000 along with a $1,000 travel stipend to ALA’s Annual Conference in San Francisco, an odd, symbolic object from Snicket’s private stash and a certificate. The nominee must be a librarian.

The inaugural award was given in 2014 to Laurence Copel, youth services librarian and founder of the Lower Ninth Ward Street Library in New Orleans. If you know a librarian who “has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact” nominate them for this unique award. According to Snicket, it is his hope that, “The Snicket Prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them.”

Mr. Snicket’s latest book is “Shouldn’t You Be in School?”, the third volume of “All The Wrong Questions,” which tells the story of Snicket’s own childhood exploits. Lemony Snicket’s official representative Daniel Handler’s next novel for adults is the highly anticipated “We Are Pirates,” which Bloomsbury will publish in February, and Neil Gaiman says is, “Honest and funny, dark and painful. ‘We Are Pirates’ reads like the result of a nightmarish mating experiment between Joseph Heller and Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s the strangest, most brilliant offering yet from the mind behind Lemony Snicket.” Later this month, Mr. Handler kicks off a national tour with appearances in more than two dozen cities (on behalf of Mr. Snicket), and will host the National Book Awards this November in New York.

To find out more information about the award, including how to nominate candidates, visit www.ala.org/awardsgrants/lemony-snicket.

November 10, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, November 2 — November 8, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from November 2 – November 8.

Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Misinformation, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

Journalism, Independent and Not

The Conservative Alienation from Journalism

ACLU slams no-fly zone over Ferguson [MO]

District Superintendent Claims 14-Year-Old Student Bullied Her By Using Her Photo In A Criminal Justice Class Project

Activists challenge Los Angeles TV station for using ‘Redskins’ name

 

Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles

The Doomsday Librarian Preparing Our Reading for the Apocalypse

Can Open Source Help Solve Unemployment?

Picking The Locks: Redefining Copyright Law In The Digital Age [Audio]

IRS provides update to libraries on tax form program

The one Obama nominee that Republicans can get behind

 

Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

An Unprecedented Look at Stuxnet, the World’s First Digital Weapon

Does your phone company track you?

Senate’s flip could ease path to NSA reform

Apple malware affects mostly Chinese users

Secret Cameras Rekindle Privacy Debate at Harvard

 

November 3, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, October 26 — November 1, 2014

 

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from October 26 – November 1.

Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

Verizon news site banned from covering spying, ‘fast lanes’

#BBCtrending: Murdered for tweeting in Mexico?

Flight cancelled when “Al-Quida” Wi-Fi network became available [LAX]

Officials identify second suspected leaker

Beau Willimon [House of Cards]: TV Enjoying ‘Unprecedented’ Amount of Creative Freedom

 

Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles

How Facebook Is Changing the Way Its Users Consume Journalism

The Internet Association launches voter information site

The United States of Reddit: How social media is redrawing our borders.

Crooner in Rights Spat: Are copyright laws too strict?

Digital divide exacerbates US inequality

 

Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

White House computer network ‘hacked’

ACLU Calls Schools’ Policy to Search Devices and ‘Approve’ Kids’ Web Posts Unconstitutional

Snowden decries ‘culture of immunity’ for law-breakers

Vermont’s Automatic License Plate Readers: 7.9 Million Plates Captured, Five Crimes Solved

Verizon Wireless crosses the privacy line on Web browsing

 

October 27, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, October 19 — October 25, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from September 19  — September 25, 2014.

Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

ACLU, Liberals Express Concern Over Houston’s Subpoenas of Sermons

Houston Hustle – Claim: The city of Houston, Texas, subpoenaed several pastors’ sermons as part of a crackdown on preaching against homosexuality.

For Art’s Sake! Prisoner Sues over Book Ban [CT]

Copyright Law Stifling Free Speech And Artistic Criticism

FCC Warns Political Campaigns and Promoters Against Robocall Abuse

 

Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles

Three House Dems, three proposals for net neutrality. Here’s what they look like.

The right wasn’t always opposed to regulations protecting online innovation

With no internet at home, kids crowd libraries for online homework

Four ways to advocate for school libraries

Letter: Make Park Ridge library users pay for the use of the library [IL]

 

Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

FEMA administrator warns of cellphone vulnerabilities during disasters

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Defining Privacy

[Omaha] Mayor’s Office proposes letting police check out library patron information

The internet of things is here, but the rules to run it are not

Youth Internet Safety: Risks, Responses, and Research Recommendations

October 16, 2014

Highland Park, Texas censoring books based on ALA’s Most Frequently Challenged List

highlandparksevenlongwhiteThe Highland Park, TX Independent School District has been in the news recently regarding seven books that were unilaterally suspended last month from the English curriculum by Superintendent Dawson Orr.

Opponents to several titles questioned how books are chosen for school assignments and they have demanded that books be removed until they have been re-approved by new committees.  On September 24, parents in the school district received an email from Superintendent Dawson Orr and Principal Walter Kelly responding to the requests. You can read in the email that books (Nineteen Minutes and Perks of Being a Wallflower) that were on the approved list before have been removed. Seven books were suspended from the current curriculum.  And books that may have “unsuitable” content now require a parent permission form.

Dr. Dawson Orr received a lot of criticism for banning the books. Many parents joined efforts to reverse his action.  There were many concerns about how removing the books would effect the standing of AP classes with the College Board. And parents demanded that their children have the freedom to read books that were chosen by professionally educated teachers. In Dr. Orr’s September 29 email to parents, he openly takes responsibility, explains his reasoning, and apologizes for his misstep. While the superintendent has since reinstated those books to the reading list, there is still much discussion about district policy, book selection, and permission slips.

According to the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, parent permission slips should be sent home for all books that meet the following criteria:

  • Books that currently are being challenged by HPISD parents
  • Books that are on the American Library Association’s Top 10 Challenged Book List by Year — going back 10 years (http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10)
  • Books that have been indicated by our local HPHS literary selection committee as needing a permission slip

This is where the Office for Intellectual Freedom has stepped in. OIF Director Barbara Jones submitted a letter to the school board, superintendent, and principal expressing concern at the use of permission forms and particularly at the use of ALA’s annual Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged and Banned Books List as a means of identifying so-called “objectionable texts.”  In the letter, Jones writes:

[ALA's] Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged or Banned Books List is not and has never been a judgment on the quality or educational suitability of a work or a valid designation that the book is “objectionable.” This is especially so since many challenges to books are determined to be without merit. Indeed, many challenges are motivated not by a challenger’s concern about educational suitability but instead by the challenger’s discriminatory and often unconstitutional beliefs regarding literature that incorporates themes and elements addressing race, religion, homosexuality, or unorthodox views. These biased and uninformed challenges, often disguised as an “unsuited for age group” objection, should never be used as grounds for determining restrictions on public school books and curricula. Employing the ALA’s Top Ten Most Challenged or Banned Books List as a curriculum standard substitutes the unthinking opinion of a crowd for the considered judgment of the professional educators on your
faculty.

Moreover, delegating the Board’s legal authority to determine what books may be freely taught in the classroom to a private association like the ALA raises certain due process issues, especially when the criteria used to determine the ALA Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged and Banned Books list are not narrowly and reasonably drawn definitive standards but the mere circumstance that someone, somewhere, complained about the book for any one of a number of reasons.

Read the rest of the letter from OIF here.

The Highland Park School Board met on Tuesday night and the issue continued to dominate discussion.  Read a report of the meeting here.

October 13, 2014

E-books and Privacy …. Again.

A few years ago, after the disclosure that Amazon was collecting and storing user data associated with the loan of library e-books to Kindle users, I wrote an article briefly exploring the “digital dilemma” associated with providing users access to e-books and other resources via third party vendors. At the time I noted that

[t]he current model of digital content delivery for libraries places library users’ privacy at risk. Authorizing the loan of an ebook or the use of a database can communicate unique identifiers or personally identifiable information that reveals a user’s identity. Databases and e-readers create records of users’ intellectual activities that can include search terms, highlighted phrases, and what pages the individuals actually read. Easily aggregated–and then associated–with a particular user, such records can be used against the reader as evidence of intent or belief, especially if the records are stored on vendors’ servers, where they are subject to discovery by law enforcement.

Now the same issue has arisen in regards to Adobe Digital Editions’ collection of reader data and its transmission back to Adobe as unencrypted data sent through unsecured networks.  The Library Information Technology Association’s LITA Blog outlines the technical issues.  ALA President Courtney Young has commented on the issue and outlines ALA’s  planned response.

The ethical issues are clear: it is the responsibility of librarians to establish policies to prevent any threat to privacy posed by new technologies. Libraries need to ensure that contracts and licenses reflect their policies and legal obligations concerning user privacy and confidentiality. Whenever a third party has access to personally identifiable information (PII), the agreements need to address appropriate restrictions on the use, aggregation, dissemination, and sale of that information, particularly information about minors. In circumstances in which there is a risk that PII may be disclosed, the library should warn its users. (See Questions 13 and 22 in the IFC’s  Q & A on Privacy and Confidentiality, and Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.) In addition, careful thought should be given to the kinds of data that are collected and stored about library users’ reading habits; no personally identifiable data should be collected unless it is essential for the provision of resources and services to the library user, and any data collected should be discarded as soon as it is no longer needed (See the 2006 Resolution on the Retention of Library Usage Records.)

The legal issues are murkier. The majority of state library confidentiality records require libraries to prevent disclosure of library users’ records to third parties in the absence of user consent or a court order or other legal process compelling disclosure. But these laws often do not govern the behavior of third party vendors entrusted with library users’ information. Both Missouri and California have tried to address this by amending their library confidentiality laws to extend the duty to protect library user records to vendors.  (See Missouri §185.815 - §185.817, amended and Cal. Gov. Code §6267.)   Ultimately, however,  the library must be responsible for assuring the privacy and confidentiality of their users’ records.

As libraries move to adopt digital content and new technologies, librarians need to assure that the use of library users’ data for these services does not weaken privacy protections for library users’ data or blur the line between public and confidential records. This will require a firm commitment to the profession’s obligation to protect the confidentiality of library users’ information and the will to advocate for greater legal protections for library users’ data that ensure reader privacy and protect against censorship, whether it is a private, contractual arrangement with the vendor or a public policy solution that includes amending or adopting library confidentiality laws that apply equally to any entity, public or private, that manages, stores, or uses library user data.

October 3, 2014

Persepolis removed, then reinstated in Chatham, IL

It was a quiet but happy day when OIF was informed by librarian Susan Klontz that Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis will continue to be read by Glenwood High School seniors in the small Central Illinois town of Chatham.

Klontz contacted OIF after the book, which was assigned for a human rights unit, was recalled from the students following a parent’s complaint to the Ball-Chatham School District superintendent.

Per school policy, a committee was formed to evaluate the text and review the parent’s complaint. NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) provided a stellar rationale for the book. ALA provided additional support in the form of reviews, articles about the value of graphic novels, and suggestions for engaging community support.  Several organizations provided letters of support to those opposed to the ban – see OIF’s letter, below.

On Monday evening Principal Jim Lee presented the committee findings and letters of support to the board of education, which then voted unanimously to retain the selection.  Read the local State Journal-Register newspaper article here.

A huge thank you to NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship), ABFFE (American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression), AAP (Association of American Publishers), CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), and PEN for supporting Glenwood High School, their teachers, librarians, and especially their students.

For more information about reporting challenges to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, visit our Challenge Reporting website.

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