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Large-scale disinformation attacks on candidates set to be a feature of 2020 election. (See PEN America’s report analyzing effect of disinformation and ways different sectors may prepare for 2020 election cycle.) University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee decides not to take disciplinary action against student who protested with a Nazi sign, citing its respect for ‘everyone’s free speech.’ Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) set to introduce bill that would allow people to opt out of online tracking and would restrict companies from transferring the data they collect on consumers to other companies. Forty-five states now criminalize revenge porn, in effort to combat online harassment. (See PEN America’s work to support targets of online harassment.) -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


Fighting Viral Hoaxes during the 2020 Election
“Anonymous political attacks are as old as the republic itself. … But it has never been easier to reach millions of voters with anonymous attacks than it is now, and legislators and regulators seem ill-equipped to keep up.”

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Cites Free Speech, Declines Action Against Student Exhibiting Nazi Sign
Amid a backlash in response to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student holding a Nazi sign with antisemitic language while protesting an Israel Independence Day event, the school, citing freedom of speech, said such action cannot be stopped.

Sen. Josh Hawley Has a New Bill to Let Consumers Opt out of Pervasive Tracking
Sen. Josh Hawley wants to make opting out of online tracking as easy as adding your number to the “Do Not Call” list. Hawley will introduce legislation Tuesday to create a “Do Not Track” program, requiring companies to limit data collection on Americans who check a setting in their web browsers or install a special app on their phones.

Is Revenge Porn Protected by the Constitution? Some States Might Say Yes.
Appeals courts are beginning to take up cases involving the constitutionality of “revenge porn” statutes. Legislation criminalizing these actions has gained traction in much of the country. Forty-five states, including Illinois, have revenge-porn laws in place. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to hear a case on the issue.


Google Restricts Huawei’s Access to Android after Trump Order
After struggling to convince allies like Britain and Germany to block the use of [Chinese technology giant] Huawei’s telecommunications equipment, the Trump administration is now undermining Huawei’s business by cutting off its access to crucial American suppliers, including chip makers.

Finland Is Winning the War on Fake News. What It’s Learned May Be Crucial to Western Democracy
Media literacy is an important part of education in Finland. “What we want our students to do is … before they like or share in the social media they think twice—who has written this? Where has it been published? Can I find the same information from another source?” Kari Kivinen, director of Helsinki French-Finnish School and former secretary-general of the European Schools said.

‘Fear and Paranoia’: How Vietnam Controls Its Media
On Nguyen Hang’s first day as a “news assistant” in 2008, she was asked to attend a meeting with the police who asked her to sign a paper affirming that her new job was to protect the country. She has been threatened by intelligence agents numerous times, but she added she wasn’t the only one amid shrinking press freedom in the Southeast Asian nation.

Hungary: The Crucible for Faulty Efforts by Facebook to Banish Fake News
In Hungary, Facebook’s attempts to clean up its platform and salvage its reputation are increasingly bringing it into confrontation with the government. The resulting showdown highlights worrying flaws in the systems that the US company has created to stamp out fake news, hate speech, bot armies, and other “bad actors.”

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