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United States: Federal Appeals Court Panels Address Whether Students’ Punishment for Myspace Pages Violates First Amendment Free Speech Protections

(Mar. 30, 2010) Two panels of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued rulings on the same day, reaching different results on whether the United States Constitution permits a student to be punished by school officials for statements published on a Myspace page created outside of school. Both Layshock v. Hermitage School […]

Nigeria: Court Imposes Gag Order on Facebook and Twitter Users

(Mar. 24, 2010) It was reported on March 23, 2010, that a Sharia (Islamic law) court judge in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria issued a restraining order on users of Facebook and Twitter, stopping them from participating in an online forum created by the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria (CRC), a nonprofit organization. The forum […]

Germany: Constitutional Court Upholds Free Speech Restriction in Banning Public Support of Former Nazi Regime

(Nov. 20, 2009) In a ruling issued on November 4, 2009, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court (CC) upheld legislation against incitement to hatred that bans public support and justification of the country's former Nazi regime. The recent decision was based on a challenge brought before the CC against a ruling of the Federal Administrative Court, to […]

United States: Appeals Court Holds First Amendment Protects “Repugnant” Picketing of Military Funeral

(Oct. 2, 2009) The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that the picketing of a military funeral by members of a church holding signs with “distasteful” and “repugnant” messages was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 2006, members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral […]

Thailand: Political Activist Sentenced to 18-Year Prison Term for Violating Lese Majeste Law

(Sept. 10, 2009) On August 28, 2009, Thai political activist Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul was sentenced by a criminal court to 18 years of imprisonment on charges of insulting the royal family, in violation of Thailand's law on lese majeste, during a July 2008 speech he made at a political rally for ousted former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. […]

Iraq: Council of Ministers Blocks All Websites Deemed in Violation of Islamic Sharia’a

(Aug. 20, 2009) On August 3, 2009, the Council of Ministers of Iraq issued a decision to create a committee to look into means to identify and block all websites that violate Islamic law (Sharia'a). The committee will include officials from the ministries of communications, higher education, and science and technology. Some Iraqi intellectuals have […]

Tunisia: Woman Jailed for Posting Message on Facebook

(Aug. 12, 2009) It was reported on July 13, 2009, that a 69-year-old human rights activist, Khedija Arfaoui, was convicted on the charge of “disturbing public order” and sentenced to an eight-month prison term for posting a message on her Facebook page in reference to a rumor of children being abducted for their organs. (Eight-Month […]

China: Release of Blogger After Trial for Online Slander

(Aug. 6, 2009) Reporters Without Borders reported that on July 24, 2009, Duan Lei, a blogger in China, was released for lack of evidence after being tried in a county court on charges of defamation and disrupting public order in Shandong Province. Duan had been detained for five months after posting online an accusation of […]

Vietnam: Crackdown on Cyber-Activists, Including Prominent Lawyer

(Aug. 6, 2009) According to a report issued by the Open Source Center (OSC) on July 9, 2009, Vietnam has launched a campaign to suppress bloggers, which “appears to be aimed at halting the relatively free political expression that has been evident online for several months.” (OSC Report: Vietnamese Authorities Seek To Silence, Intimidate Cyber-Activists, […]

United States: Maryland Court of Appeals Sets Standard for Defamation Claims Based on Anonymous Internet Postings

(Mar. 19, 2009) The Maryland Court of Appeals announced a standard for balancing the free speech rights of anonymous posters on the Internet and plaintiffs wishing to sue them for defamation. The case arose when Zebulon Brodie, a Maryland restaurant owner, filed suit against persons who anonymously posted comments on a website operated by Independent […]