Archive for the 'Americas' Category

Apple and Net Neutrality – Relevant?

In recent months the legal and ethical debate over net neutrality and its implications for freedom of expression has drawn quite a bit of attention. Net neutrality is of utmost cultural, societal, and legal significance. Net neutrality regulation is one of the most important decisions the world’s lawmakers will have to make in the upcoming years. A prominent example can be found in Apple, the company famous for its computers, mp3 players, and most recently the iPhone. The quarrel over the submission and review policy for publishing an application on the Apple App Store has become highly controversial. Now, the actual review policy is too long to include in this blog but the gist is explained quite well in Apple’s official summary:

‘The app approval process is in place to ensure that applications are reliable, perform as expected, and are free of explicit and offensive material. We review every app on the App Store based on a set of technical, content, and design criteria…’ Continue reading ‘Apple and Net Neutrality – Relevant?’


Mexico: Code of Ethics v Freedom of Expression

Ms Carmen Aristegui, a well-known Mexican journalist was fired from a major Mexican radio station MVS Noticias, in February 2011, for “violating the station’s code of ethics” by “broadcasting rumour as news” and subsequently refusing to make an on-air apology.

Ms Aristegui’s dismissal came after she aired a controversial radio broadcast suggesting that the Presidency of the Republic should address the accusations of President Calderon’s alleged drinking problem.  According to Ms Aristegui, her statement  “was an editorial comment based on a news event” which followed an episode that occurred in the Congress, where a left-wing deputy of the Labour Party (Partido del Trabajo (PT) displayed a banner with an image of President Calderon together with the following text: “Would you let a drunk person drive your car? You wouldn’t, right? So, why do you let him drive your country?“ However, no evidence was presented to support such allegations. Continue reading ‘Mexico: Code of Ethics v Freedom of Expression’

The value of free expression in the UK: defamation reform and conditional fee arrangements

“We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spoke: the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held. – In everything we are sprung
Of Earth`s first blood, have titles manifold.”
William Wordsworth

English liberty has been tied up with freedom of speech for centuries. John Milton defended its value in 1644 in Areopagitica, as did John Stuart Mill in his famous On Liberty in 1859.  English law has proudly protected free speech, arguably since the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 and continued to lead the way through decisions such as Entick v Carrington [1765] EWHC KB J98. The value of free speech, now more broadly encapsulated in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights as ‘freedom of expression’ is arguably the most established and unchanging of the United Kingdom’s political values.

Continue reading ‘The value of free expression in the UK: defamation reform and conditional fee arrangements’

Book Burning and Gay Bashing: The continuing First Amendment struggles in the United States.

In the recent decision of Snyder v Phelps the Supreme Court of the United States of America, acting in an 8 – 1 majority has affirmed the right to free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  The case centred on the ever controversial presence of the Westbro Baptist Church at the funerals of military personnel killed in active service or combat.   In March 2006 the funeral of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, a soldier killed while on service in Iraq became the focus of the Church’s protestations against the willingness of the United States acceptance of homosexuality.  The church displayed signs such as “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead soldiers” close to where the funeral service was taking place.  Continue reading ‘Book Burning and Gay Bashing: The continuing First Amendment struggles in the United States.’

Fired over Facebook: Employer Regulation of Speech on Social Media Sites

Experts have stated that “the intersection of social media and the office is a potential minefield,” creating numerous possibilities for a wide variety of lawsuits. A manager “poking” an employee on Facebook might give rise to a sexual harassment claim. Or perhaps an employer may rescind a job offer to an employee after learning via Facebook that the applicant is of a particular religion or sexual orientation. While these types of lawsuits seem inevitable, claims concerning employee speech on social networking sites have already become prevalent.   Continue reading ‘Fired over Facebook: Employer Regulation of Speech on Social Media Sites’

Conflict of Interests: a discussion on David Cole’s recent article, “Chewing Gum for Terrorists.”

The main point of the David Cole’s article “Chewing Gum for Terrorists is this: a constant thirst for profit encourages hypocrisy as the US trades with but will not allow discussion of named terrorist organisations. In essence, Cole postulates that the First Amendment is done away with as a newly-defined “humanitarian aid”, including in its new definition, cigarettes, takes its place. Continue reading ‘Conflict of Interests: a discussion on David Cole’s recent article, “Chewing Gum for Terrorists.”’

Why is Venezuela ranked in the 133rd position in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index?

 Of the 178 countries ranked in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index Venezuela was situated in 133rd place, plunging nine places compared to the 124th place it occupied in 2009. The reasons for this decline are numerous. The major issue is of the State’s monopoly of the audio-visual terrestrial broadcast network, which determines many of the obstacles faced by the media and the journalists, especially those who continue to critique against President Chávez’s Government.

Continue reading ‘Why is Venezuela ranked in the 133rd position in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index?’

Cuba, Twitter and Freedom of Expression

Cuba’s contemporary history on violations of freedom of expression is broad.  The island runs second in the ranking of countries with more journalists in prison (right after China). Just in 2009, 22 journalists were imprisoned for spreading their ideas.

Yoani Sanchez, the worldwide-known blogger, is maybe the most illustrative example of the limitation of freedom of expression in Cuba. After establishing the freedom of expression panel/magazine Contodos, and becoming famous for her ‘Generacion Y’ Blog, in which she portrays her everyday life in Cuba, Sanchez was labeled as a ‘counter-revolutionary’ by the Government, and her access to her own blog was blocked (she now relies in friends who live outside Cuba and sends them posts to publish on her behalf). Continue reading ‘Cuba, Twitter and Freedom of Expression’

The growing problem of impunity for attacks against journalists

2010 seems, so far, to be a particularly bloody year for journalists. In countries all around the world journalists have been attacked and killed by private citizens, without the States in question providing protection or conducting investigations and punishing those responsible.

In Europe, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey for not preventing the death of Fırat Dink, an Armenian-Turkish reporter in 2007, despite that State being aware of the death threats against him. As yet, there have been no convictions in Mr. Dink’s murder. Meanwhile, Article XIX and International Media Support called on Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine to increase the protection of journalists and end the impunity of those who attack them. The deaths of journalists like Georgiy Gongadze in Ukraine in 2000; Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 and of Natalia Estemirova in 2009 both in Russia and the disappearance of Dmitry Zavadsky in Belarus in 2000 remain unsolved. Continue reading ‘The growing problem of impunity for attacks against journalists’

State responsibility for Mexico’s self-censored media

The current climate of self-censorship among journalists in Mexico is unusual as an example of a limit on freedom of expression, as it is born not of armed conflict or revolution, but of a government’s inability to control criminal elements such as drug traffickers and gangs. Mexico has one of the highest rates of kidnapping and violence against journalists in the world, resulting in many media sources ceasing to report upon topics that will place them at risk of retribution. Recently, one of the few newspapers that had so far stood against the trend has pled with gangs to provide guidelines on what it should and should not report, after a young photographer – the second member of the paper’s staff to be killed in two years – was shot earlier this month. Continue reading ‘State responsibility for Mexico’s self-censored media’

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