Justin Silverman's blog

The Journal News Fallout: Limiting the First Amendment to Protect the Second

The 'Mugshot Racket' II: A Commercial Purpose Exemption?

When Tim Donnelly, a 26-year-old job seeker, Googled his name recently he found that the first link provided was that to a mugshot of him taken seven years ago. He got into a fight as a teenager and was arrested for criminal trespass and assault. According to Donnelly, the trespass charge was dismissed and the assault charge was downgraded to disorderly conduct.

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Policing Political Speech or Just Sex Under the Magnolia Tree?

In response to local Occupy protests, Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said in October that “we don’t have the resources to go out and, in effect, babysit protesters.” But as the Nashville Scene recently reported, that’s exactly what pol

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Live Tweeting from the ‘Restaurant of Broken Dreams’

When web developer Andy Boyle overheard a couple discussing their marital woes in a Burger King in Boston on Nov. 7, he immediately recognized the entertainment value and began tweeting a play-by-play.

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France Continues to Confuse Censorship with Civility

A French court last month stomped on what we in the United States consider a “basic, vital, and well-established liberty” – the right to record and publish the public activity of police.

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Health Reporters Unite! How One Doctor's Complaint Turned a Public Database Private

Kansas City Star reporter Alan Bavley had a hunch. After years of investigating the health care industry, Bavley began to suspect that state medical boards did not adequately discipline doctors who committed malpractice. Physicians battling substance abuse, for example, were punished far more harshly.

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The 'Mugshot Racket': Paying to Keep Public Records Less Public

It used to be that mugshots were kept well out of the view.  Despite being public records in many states, walls of bureaucracy and simple physical inaccessibility (due to the photos being locked in a police station somewhere) kept them largely out of the public eye.

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The War on Terror, 'Material Support,' and the First Amendment

The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of organizations it believes engage in terrorist activity, and under federal law it is illegal to provide material support to them.

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BART Phone Blackout: Did the S.F. Transit Agency Violate Free Speech Protections? Part 2

This is the second half of an analysis of the free speech issues implicated by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)'s shutdown of mobile phone service on Aug. 11 in order to prevent scheduled protests.  The first part of the blog is available here.

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Baby Brady Photos Removed, But Did AG's Office Overstep Its Bounds?

If you've been living in Boston, you've undoubtedly heard the recent uproar over a local website publishing a photo of Ben Brady, the 20-month-old son of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Budchen, playing with his parents on a Costa Rican beach.

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Keeping 911 Recordings Public and Online

When a grizzly bear mauled bicyclist Petra Davis two years ago in an Anchorage park, she called 911 from her cell phone, barely able to speak: "Please help ... bear," she struggled to say. "I can't talk." A fellow biker quickly came to her rescue, grabbing her cell phone and calling again for help: "I have a young girl here who was mauled by a bear and who is in pretty bad shape," Peter Bassinger told the operator.

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