law & ethics

Justice Thomas suggests review of landmark case | Feb. 19, 2019

In a concurring opinion in a defamation case related to the Bill Cosby rape case, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called for the court to revisit its 1964 decision in the landmark case, New York Times v Sullivan. The decision laid ground for defamation law in the U.S., making it harder for public figures to win defamation cases. The 1964 decision requires public figures to prove that defamatory statements were made with a "reckless disregard for the truth," a.k.a. actual malice. This ruling has proven to be a key provision in protecting press freedoms in the country. Read more here...

Topic: Defamation


Justices to hear case with social media implications | Dec. 3, 2018

The SCOTUS has agreed to hear a case about public access and a New York City TV station. The question is whether the non-for-profit that runs the station (under New York public access law) legally suspended two former employees and prevented them from accessing its facilities. If the SCOTUS rules that the station is a public forum and therefore it violated the two employee's First Amendment rights, the same ruling could be applied to internet companies like Google and social media giants like Facebook and YouTube. Read more here...

Topics: The First Amendment; Internet regulation


FDA ordered to write rules on graphic cigarette warning | sept. 5, 2018

A judge has ordered the FDA to expedite issuing rules governing the placement of graphic warning images on cigarette boxes. The decision follows a series of lawsuits filed after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed in 2009. The law requires the placement of graphic warnings on cigarette boxes. Two circuit courts of appeal delivered conflicting rulings on the constitutionality of the law and the SCOTUS declined to hear the case. Read more here...

Topics: Commercial speech; the First Amendment


FCC votes to end net neutrality | Dec. 14, 2017

In a 3–2 vote, the FCC voted to rescind the Obama-era net neutrality rules that were meant to promote parity in internet access. Proponents of net-neutrality fear that in the absence of the rule, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will slow down service for some users or force users to pay more to access some services. Read more here...

Topic: Internet regulation


Trump adviser-linked analytics company accused of illegally collecting data on millions | March 18, 2018

Whistle-blower Christopher Wylie revealed that he set up what he describes as (former Trump campaign CEO and White House senior counselor) “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool" before the 2016 presidential elections. The analytics company collected information on more than 50 million Facebook users. Facebook claims that the data was collected illegitimately. The Trump campaign has denied any ties to the controversial analytics company. Read more here and here...

Topics: Privacy


hidden cameras found in airbnb rentals | Dec. 6, 2017

There has been an increase in incidents involving hidden recording devices found at various Airbnb rental locations. Cases have been reported in New York, Toronto, and South Carolina. Read more here...

Topics: Privacy (Intrusion)



Older news:

Judge Strikes Down Graphic Cigarette Box Images | March 1, 2012

A judge has ruled against a soon-to-be law that would have required tobacco companies to place graphic anti smoking images on cigarette boxes. The new FDA mandated law would have required cigarette producers to place images such as one of a smoke-puffing tracheotomy hole. The district judge ruled that such a requirement went beyond the mere conveyance of facts and the size requirements of the said images was unconstitutional. Read more here...

Topic: Commercial Speech

$5 Strip Club Fee Ruled Constitutional | August 26, 2011

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that nude dancing does not necessarily enjoy full First Amendment protection. The ruling came after the Texas Entertainment Association, an exotic dancing trade association challenged a state law that required strip clubs that also served alcohol to pay a $5 "pole tax" to cover sexual assault prevention programs. The association deemed this tax a burden to the free expression --- of nude dancing. Read more here...

Topics: First Amendment; Prior restraint


Housekeeper Sues Author for Use of Likeness | August 19, 2011

Mississippi housekeeper Ablene Cooper is suing author Kathryn Stockett for using her likeness without permission in the book "The Help." The book, based on the dynamics of the segregation era South, was recently adapted into a well acclaimed blockbuster movie. Cooper, who worked for the author's brother is seeking $75,000. Read more here...

Topic: Privacy (Misappropriation)


Stalker gets 2.5 years for illegal filming of sports reporter | March 15, 2010

Michael Barrett, 48, has pleaded guilty of secretly filming former ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in her hotel room. Barrett installed a secret camera in Andrew's hotel rooms in at least three cities. Andrews also sued a Marriott Hotel for $10 claiming that the photos and videos taken thorough her hotel room peephole and posted online have caused her fear, anxiety and humiliation. A jury later awarded her $55 million. Read more here and here...

Topics: Privacy (Intrusion)