I've been tracking the progress of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 for months. Having spent time in a federal prison for protecting my source material, it's natural that I would be interested in a law that would prevent others from enduring this same fate.
The last time I wrote about the bill's status was in August, after it cleared the House Judiciary Committee. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee followed suit, and both houses of Congress are now ready to vote on the law.
While this is very exciting news for many journalists, I'm less than ecstatic, given that neither the version of the bill is ideal, and there is no telling how the two bills will be combined, should it pass both houses.
While the amended version of the House bill seeks to tie journalism to an economic exchange, the Senate's definition is broader in scope and would not only protect professionals but would likely apply to students and many bloggers as well.… Read more
Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Every ATM snaps your mug, and each time you get into a taxi your photo is recorded as well. According to the BBC, our images are captured an average of 300 times each day. While we've grown used to these security cameras in our malls and at stoplights, the influx of surveillance cameras in our public spaces should be of great concern to everyone.
As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago has 560 crime cameras that are actively monitored for criminal activity. In London there are more than 10,000 cameras. These so-called "crime cameras" have multiple roles: they are intended to provide evidence of crimes when they occur, they are meant to deter criminals, and they are a reminder that Big Brother is watching.
When creating a broad forum or social-networking site like Facebook, deciding what, if any, content should be prohibited is always a difficult decision. Pornography and unauthorized copyrighted material are usually forbidden, but any other restrictions will often spark calls of censorship and accusations that the forum infringes on the freedom of speech guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. In reality, the constitution doesn't dictate what must be allowed in these circumstances, just as you are permitted to make certain subjects off-limits in your own home. Despite the fact that there is no constitutional issue, there is a perception of one, and the concerns about censorship are very real and do have merit.
Lately, Facebook has been dealing with a growing controversy surrounding one of its groups. F**k Islam has more than 800 members, has generated almost 20,000 wall posts, and sparked a number of similar groups in addition to a host of groups built around their opposition to the group's existence. The debate has recently spilled into The New York Times.… Read more
Open government is a central tenet for democracy. After all, if it's your government then you have the right to know what your money is going toward. But what about the rights of public employees' personal privacy? As reported in today's SFGate , the California Supreme Court has ruled that "the public has the right to know the names of police officers and the salaries of local and state government employees."