April 16, 2012 2:00:21 PM by
My new research assistant Zachary Bloom and I recently co-authored a piece in Forbes.com in which we discuss the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in favor of a narrow interpretation of a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA is a vague, dangerous statute that is open to a wide number of readings. The Department of Justice's broad understanding of the law would criminalize much of the everday online activity of nearly every American. Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit did not see the merits of such a reading, and has limited its interpretation of the law to criminalize only the act of hacking into a computer system. This ruling is a positive step forward. But as we point out, the circuit courts are now in disagreement over the meaning of the CFAA, and the final outcome of the controversy will affect all of our lives.
April 10, 2012 12:43:58 PM by
On March 28, I attended a forum at the Manhattan Institute with KC Johnson where we discussed the dismal state of free speech and due process rights on America's campuses. The Institute has just posted the audio of the Q&A session that followed our talks. You can find a link to the podcasts after the jump.
April 06, 2012 9:45:24 AM by
My research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I just wrote a piece for Forbes.com about the absurd new Arizona anti-bullying law passed by the state legislature and awaiting Governor Jan Brewer's signature. The bill is just the latest in a series of federal and state laws that seek to ban protected speech by renaming it as something else, then outlawing it. The Arizona bill is a particularly clumsy example of this phenomenon, with the legislature crudely attempting to expand its anti-harassment law to prohibit any form of electronic communication that might be considered "annoying" or "offensive" to the recipient.
As we point out in our article, this bill would essentially criminalize the conduct of anyone who wishes to participate in any public forum. Pundits, too, should beware: from Rush Limbaugh to Bill Maher,those from both sides of the political spectrum who seek to provoke and offend via electronic communications would be liable to face criminal charges under this bill.
April 04, 2012 11:48:52 AM by
The Supreme Court's opinion in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington has created quite a stir this week. The opinion, authored personally by Justice Anthony Kennedy with concurrences from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, authorizes jails to conduct strip searches of all inmates, even those who are being booked for minor offenses such as traffic violations, regardless of whether or not prison authorities deem them suspicious.
Albert Florence, the plaintiff, filed his suit against the government after being arrested, subjected to a strip search, and put in prison for several days following a routine traffic stop. He was booked on charges of failure to pay a fine, a fine which he had actually paid years earlier. Yesterday I appeared for an interview on WGBH radio's
Emily Rooney Show, in which I discussed the dangerous implications of both faulty police databases and the Court's granting such expansive authority to law enforcement and prison officials.
March 26, 2012 2:31:48 PM by
Last week I co-wrote, with my research assistant Daniel Schwartz, a blog post for the Huffington Post about the legal battles surrounding Boston College's Belfast Project. The Belfast Project, a groundbreaking oral history undertaking conducted by former IRA member Anthony McIntyre and journalist Ed Maloney, was meant to chronicle "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. They conducted ground-level interviews with key players from both sides, seeking candid and open records of the fighting in exchange for the promise that the testimonies would be confidential until death.
But now that the Police Service of Northern Ireland has decided to reopen a 40-year-old cold murder case, the British government has subpoenaed the Belfast Project's records for use in the investigation. In our blog post, we discuss BC's lackluster legal defense of academic freedom and the unconscionable dereliction of its duty to defend its scholars' First Amendment rights.