Connect with us

FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

Draft of Trump Executive Order Would Have Barr and White House Collect Information on Social Media Users: Reports

Published

on

A draft of President Donald Trump’s social media executive order shows it would create disturbing structures that could allow the President of the United States to personally target social media companies he feels are taking action against his supporters, enable his supporters to report that action directly to the White House, and empower the Attorney General of the United States to collect publicly available “watch-lists” of social media users that monitor not only their online activities but their offline activities as well.

The draft is not final, but both the speed with which it will be signed and reports show it likely has not gone through interagency review, as CNN’s Brian Fung, who calls it “hastily conceived,” notes.

Reuters has confirmed a draft of the executive order, which President Trump has promised he will sign today.  They report it “requires the Attorney General to establish a working group including state attorneys general that will examine the enforcement of state laws that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts.”

The order directs the White House Office of Digital Strategy to turn back on the White House Tech Bias Reporting Tool, which the Trump administration created in 2019. It is currently dormant. The tool would be used to collect complaints of what social media users feel is online censorship by tech companies. Those complaints would be submitted by the White House to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

The White House Office of Digital Strategy was not designed for that purpose. It was created for the sole purpose of crafting and promoting the President’s agenda online, not for acting as a conduit to enable spying. The Office of Digital Strategy is headed by a former Heritage Foundation employee.

Reuters also reports Barr is to create “working group” that “will also monitor or create watch-lists of users based on their interactions with content or other users.” That reporting appears to be inaccurate, based on NCRM’s reading, and reporting by other outlets.

NBC News technology correspondent Jacob Ward reports the draft “directs the White House Office of Digital Strategy to collect publicly available information regarding ‘watch-lists’ of users based on their interaction with content or users’ and ‘monitoring users based on their activity off the platform.'”

An ABC News report appears to confirm that reading.

But Barr would be directed to create the group, which would include hand-picked state attorneys general.

The mere existence of any such lists, whether or not they are created by Barr or identified by the DOJ, can easily be politicized.

Stanford Cyber Policy Center’s Platform Regulation Director says this is a copy of the draft. She has annotated it as well:

 

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

GOP Launches Witch Hunt Demanding Investigation Into Highly-Respected University Professor’s Tweets

Published

on

Republicans in Virginia are demanding that University of Virginia President James E. Ryan open an investigation into tweets by Center for Politics founder Dr. Larry Sabato.

“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Virginia GOP Chair Rich Anderson wrote in a letter printed on Republican Party of Virginia letterhead.

“In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”

A spokesperson for the university said Sabato has done nothing wrong.

“There is nothing in our Code of Conduct that limits University employees from engaging in expression that is protected under the First Amendment,” the spokesman said.

Anderson complained about eight tweets by Sabato. The first noted Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

The second tweet concerned Trump’s fact-free approach to presidential debates.

The third tweet was in the context of Trump hoping to bring back executions by firing squad while facing accusations of extreme tax fraud. It was in the comments of a Daily Beast story.

The fourth tweet questioned Trump’s sanity after he released a 46-minute video pushing his “Big Lie” of voter fraud.

The fifth tweet praised a return to normalcy “after 4 years of the bizarre and disturbing.”

The sixth tweet returned to the question of Trump’s mental health in the context of the delusional conspiracy theory that he will be “reinstated” as president in August in violation of the Constitution.

The seventh tweet concerned Glenn Youngkin, who is worth hundreds of millions after working as the co-CEO of the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group. Youngkin is now running for governor of Virginia.

The final tweet the GOP believes should result in an investigation concerned Trump’s choice of music at his campaign-style rallies.

 

Continue Reading

FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘Highly Unusual and Unrelenting’: Bill Barr Waged a Secret Court Battle With CNN to Obtain Reporter’s Email Logs

Published

on

CNN’s lead attorney revealed this Wednesday that the Trump administration battled with the network for half a year to obtain the email record of a reporter, and demanded that it all be done in secret.

In July of 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr demanded two months’ of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s 2017 email logs. According to CNN, the pursuit represented “a highly unusual and unrelenting push for journalists’ records,” which included “putting CNN general counsel David Vigilante under a gag order prohibiting him from sharing any details about the government’s efforts with anyone beyond the network’s president, top attorneys at CNN’s corporate parent and attorneys at an outside law firm.”

While CNN acknowledges that it’s not uncommon for a media organization to be subpoenaed for a reporter’s records, what stands apart “is the total secrecy that surrounded the order, the months-long court proceeding and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to negotiate.”

Read the full report over at CNN.

Continue Reading

FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

Trump’s DOJ Covertly Collected Award Winning CNN Reporter’s Email and Phone Records: Report

Published

on

On Thursday, CNN reported that the Justice Department, under former President Donald Trump, secretly collected email and phone records from a CNN reporter, without notifying either the reporter or the news organization.

“The Justice Department informed CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, in a May 13 letter, that prosecutors had obtained her phone and email records covering two months, between June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017,” reported Jeremy Herb and Jessica Schneider. “The letter listed phone numbers for Starr’s Pentagon extension, the CNN Pentagon booth phone number and her home and cell phones, as well as Starr’s work and personal email accounts.”

“The seizure of Starr’s records is the third disclosure in as many weeks where the Trump administration used its Justice Department to secretly obtain communications of journalists or to expose the identity of critics of former President Donald Trump’s allies,” continued the report.

Starr reportedly was not the target of a criminal investigation.

“CNN strongly condemns the secret collection of any aspect of a journalist’s correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “We are asking for an immediate meeting with the Justice Department for an explanation.”

Under Trump, the Justice Department was frequently controversial for its attitude towards the press. At his confirmation hearing, Attorney General William Barr stumbled over a question about whether he would use the DOJ to imprison journalists.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.