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Posted on Techdirt - 3 September 2011 @ 12:00pm

Taoareyou's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

This week’s favorites come from the wonderfully named taoareyou.

While I read almost every post from this blog, the ones that really catch my eye are those involving U.S civil liberties (because I live here, not that I don’t take interest in the plight of others). Posts pointing out where government policy and corporate demands are chipping away at our personal freedoms not only expose the erosion of the Constitution in the name of profits and control, but also provide a platform to educate some people about what their rights truly are. That being said, I would like to thank Mike for giving me the opportunity to name my favorite posts from this week.

When Missouri passed a law to ban teachers from having students as friends on social networks, I was disappointed. It meant to me that a significant number of citizens in that state desired to restrict speech for the protection of children despite any evidence that such a restriction would have any effect whatsoever. If a teacher is going to have a secret relationship with a student, they will make a separate account on whatever social networks they want and not be affected at all. The law only prohibited legitimate communications between teachers and students. Giving students additional access to teachers is a good thing. I was pleased to learn the courts blocked the implementation of this law. This gives me hope that such restrictions will not spread to other states or increase in scope (such as a ban on clergy being friends with children in their parishes).

Another topic that troubles me is police arresting people for filming them. Citizens on public property openly recording public employees (really anyone, but especially public employees) are not only within their rights, but their actions can only help police operating within the law. Every video recording made of an arrest could be used as evidence to support an officer if someone were to claim misconduct. I would think an honest officer would be more than happy to be filmed doing their job and doing it well. In fact, such officers have been filmed and they illustrate this point perfectly. Yet there has been a disturbing trend for some law enforcement officers to abuse their authority and to violate the civil rights of citizens by misrepresenting wiretapping and other laws. These are not hidden cameras and the citizens do not conceal the fact that they are openly recording. The major media outlets have been doing video and sound recording on the street for years, often observing law enforcement at the scenes of accidents and crimes. Why is it suddenly a crime for a free citizen to do the same? I was again pleased when I heard an appeals court found the arrest and seizure of property in these cases to be a violation of 1st and 4th amendment rights. I truly hope this is the beginning of the end of this practice.

Finally, a topic I’ve been following with extreme interest is the ongoing domain seizures by the U.S. government. I’m not a legal expert by any means, which is probably why I cannot fathom how the DOJ can justify these obvious (to me) violations. What saddens me even more is that so many are just rolling over and accepting this without question. The ongoing efforts of Puerto 80 to challenge this police state style activity give me hope that this too will be stopped. If it remains unchecked, there is no reason why they will stop with domains. Could the government take whatever property of yours they want and call it forfeiture, not seizure? Even without charging you with any crimes? That’s happening right now.

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