News

Format: 2015-05-23
Format: 2015-05-23
May 22, 2015
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) joined nearly 150 civil society groups, businesses, and trade groups in a letter to the White House urging it to not succumb to pressure to build in exceptions to encryption for law enforcement.
May 18, 2015
In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, the Reporters Committee argued that the controversial issue of access to body cam videos need not be that controversial. Debate in Washington D.C. over police body cameras, and who should be able to see the resulting videos, has heated up in recent weeks. Despite promises of transparency, the Metropolitan Police Department has denied FOIA requests for body camera video, and Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a new exemption to the DC FOIA that would completely prevent public access to bodycam videos.
May 15, 2015
A federal anti-SLAPP bill with bipartisan co-sponsors was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. The SPEAK FREE Act, introduced Wednesday by Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., is seen as an important step toward nationwide protection against meritless suits that chill speech.
April 29, 2015
A Florida bill that would revise the state’s narrow anti-SLAPP law to provide a greater level of protection for speakers against meritless lawsuits has passed both houses of the legislature and now awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. Florida’s anti-SLAPP law, Fla. Stat. § 768.295, currently only provides for the speedy dismissal of SLAPP suits when such frivolous suits are filed by government entities. In practice, "strategic lawsuits against public participation," or SLAPPs, are filed by a wide range of plaintiffs, with far more deleterious effects on speakers than just those suits brought by the government.
April 29, 2015
Following arguments from prisoners, prisoner rights groups, and members of the media, a judge yesterday struck down the Pennsylvania Revictimization Relief Act as unconstitutionally restricting the speech of prisoners as well as media that carry their messages. The act allowed victims of personal injury crimes to bring civil actions against the perpetrators for “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim,” defined as including “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.”
April 28, 2015
Washington D.C.’s Mayor Bowser has largely upheld the refusal of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to produce body camera videos in response to a D.C. Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Reporters Committee. In its D.C. FOIA request, the Reporters Committee asked the police department for specific categories of body camera videos, including videos that have been used for training purposes, flagged for supervisory review, submitted to the D.C. Office of Police Complaints, or used in connection with criminal and civil proceedings.
April 27, 2015
The decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to throw out the defamation suit in Abbas v. Foreign Policy on Friday was a bittersweet victory for First Amendment advocates, as the court also decided that the D.C. anti-SLAPP law did not apply in federal court. This negative result shows clearly why Congress should pass federal anti-SLAPP legislation that would protect speakers who cannot benefit from their state’s anti-SLAPP law, as well as those in states that have no such law.
April 22, 2015
A bill modifying Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law, pushed by hotel and casino company Wynn Resorts, has made its way through the Nevada Senate Judiciary Committee and has been passed unanimously by the Senate. Though its proponents frame it as striking a balance between free speech and the right to petition, Senate Bill 444 essentially eviscerates the protections given to speakers under the anti-SLAPP law by modifying wording and key clauses that allow speakers to efficiently fight back against lawsuits intended to chill speech. If the state assembly also passes the bill and it is signed by the governor, speakers in that state will have real problems defending against these attacks without the help of what is currently one of the strongest anti-SLAPP laws in the nation.
April 22, 2015
Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a new, fast-tracked bill to reauthorize Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Section 215, which allows the government to collect "tangible things" relevant to an authorized terrorism investigation, is set to expire on June 1, 2015. Senator McConnell's bill would extend the provision through 2020.
April 20, 2015
A California appellate court reversed course on Friday and vacated what media lawyers described as an unconstitutional prior restraint order. Last month, the court sealed a legal brief filed by the Pasadena Police Officers Association that quoted from a confidential report on the 2012 police shooting of teenager Kendrec McDade. The court’s order also directed the parties to the lawsuit, including the Los Angeles Times, which had long sought to obtain the report, to return all copies of the brief to the court. The police union didn’t move to seal the brief until nine days after it had been filed.
April 16, 2015
In a victory for Yelp and its anonymous commenters, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled today that the circuit court could not force the California-based online review site to reveal the identities of users who had posted negative reviews of a Virginia carpet-cleaning company.
April 13, 2015
An Okahoma trial judge has denied a motion to dismiss an open records lawsuit against Oklahoma Gov. Marry Fallin and Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Tompson. The case involves several requests made by Tulsa World Enterprise Editor Ziva Branstetter under Oklahoma's Open Records Act seeking, among other things, the transcripts of witness interviews conducted as part of the investigation into what happened during Clayton Lockett's botched execution in April 2014, and for email between state officials discussing the issue. Branstetter's requests were pending for seven months before she and Tulsa World filed suit. Katie Townsend, litigation director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with Robert Nelon of Hall Estill, argued before the court last Friday on behalf of Tulsa World and Branstetter.
April 10, 2015
Wednesday’s attacks on the public service television network TV5Monde by attackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State were unprecedented in terms of scale and visibility, with more than 11 channels as well as TV5Monde’s website and social media accounts compromised. The attacks underscore the need for more news organizations to implement and update their digital security defenses against attackers seeking to embarrass and spread propaganda. Although it is currently unclear how the perpetrators penetrated the network, it shows just how vulnerable media networks can be to this scale of attack.
April 9, 2015
The Reporters Committee has forwarded a letter of Inter American Press Association president Gustavo Mohme to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the 7th Summit of the Americas to be held this week, calling for a declaration that reaffirms a commitment to freedom of expression and access to information. The IAPA letter calls on President Obama and the other leaders participating in the summit to bear in mind that freedom of expression and of the press is a fundamental human right essential to the functioning of democracy. Public transparency and an environment that empowers diverse ideas are cornerstones of democratic societies, the letter explains.
April 7, 2015
A coalition of media organizations and journalists led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed petitions to unseal secretive criminal prosecutions of four Colombian paramilitary leaders who were extradited to the United States in 2008. CBS Broadcasting Inc., Sergio Gomez, a U.S.-based reporter for El Tiempo, Daniel Pacheco, a U.S. based reporter for Caracol and El Espectador, and Univision have joined the Reporters Committee in this effort.