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California police violate press rights

California police are violating state law “right and left” during the protests and police raids on campus encampments. That’s according to University of California, Irvine, School of Law professor Susan Seager. We interviewed her in the wake of arrests of two California journalists in recent weeks, among other press freedom violations. Suppression of the press isn’t supposed to happen anywhere in America, but especially not in California, where it’s explicitly against the law for police to intentionally interfere with journalists covering a demonstration.

‘A national embarrassment’

The flood of press freedom violations against journalists covering protests opposing the Israel-Gaza war is a national embarrassment. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented dozens of abuses connected to protests and counterprotests, and the numbers will likely grow. These recent incidents confirm what past data in the Tracker has demonstrated: protests are an especially dangerous place for journalists.

Cops on campus arrest, bully journalists

As police stormed several college campuses in recent days and arrested hundreds of students protesting the Israel-Gaza war, the free press was also under attack. Texas Department of Public Safety officers arrested Carlos Sanchez, a photojournalist for the local Fox affiliate, as he was covering protests at the University of Texas at Austin. But police can’t seem to make up their minds about what, exactly, they want us to believe Sanchez did wrong, repeatedly bringing then dropping charges against the photographer.

Biden signs off on 'spy draft'

Last week, we warned of a dangerous new bill that would expand the surveillance law Section 702 of FISA. Unfortunately, the Senate approved the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, or RISAA, over the weekend, officially reauthorizing Section 702 without any significant reforms and with dangerous expansions of the intelligence agencies’ spy powers. President Biden quickly signed the bill into law, authorizing intelligence agencies to essentially “institute a spy draft” that could require ordinary Americans and businesses to help the government surveil online communications, including those of journalists.

‘Spy draft’ bill threatens press freedom

The Senate is dangerously close to passing a bill that would allow intelligence agencies to essentially “institute a spy draft” and order everyone from dentists to plumbers to surveil their patients and customers’ communications. The RISAA would also allow the government to order commercial landlords who rent space to media outlets, or contractors who service newsrooms, to help it spy on American journalists’ communications with foreign sources.

Stop this horrifying mass surveillance bill

The House has slipped a horrifying amendment into its bill extending intelligence agencies’ already expansive spying powers under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Anyone who values press freedom — or their own freedom — needs to tell their senators TODAY to VOTE NO on the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, or RISAA, by calling 202-899-8938.

‘Imperative’ to pass PRESS Act

Veteran journalist Catherine Herridge threw her full support behind the PRESS Act, the federal bill to put an end to surveillance and subpoenas to force journalists to out their sources, during Congressional testimony on April 11, 2024.

Stop arresting journalists

Just a few months into 2024, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented four arrests or detentions of journalists covering protests in New York, Tennessee, and California. These arrests violate journalists’ rights, and they undermine the right of the public to learn about newsworthy events happening in their communities. They also show the disturbing and stubborn persistence of a system of policing that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about First Amendment rights.

UK grants Assange another hearing

On Tuesday, the High Court in London granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange another hearing on his extradition to the United States, averting — at least temporarily — a press freedom catastrophe. While we’re glad that Assange isn’t being immediately extradited, the threat to journalists from the Espionage Act charges against him remains.

‘National security’ claims don’t trump First Amendment

Most analyses of Monday’s Supreme Court argument in Murthy v. Missouri, the case about government pressure on social media content moderation, agree that the justices are likely to rule that the government can influence platforms’ moderation decisions. But when it comes to alleged threats to “national security,” some justices seemed willing to let the government go even further by coercing — or even requiring — takedowns.

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