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Leaked documents show the U.S. authorities tracking journalists, lawyers, and immigration advocates at the U.S.-Mexico border. (See PEN America’s statement.) A Florida sixth-grader arrested last month after refusing to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance at his school will not be prosecuted. (See the joint statement PEN America signed in support of student rights to free speech in schools.) Facebook announces a ‘privacy-focused’ plan for its platforms, which also include Instagram and the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp. Federal judge rules that the plan to include a question about citizenship in the 2020 census is unconstitutional, and that in trying to add such a question Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in ‘bad faith.’ -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


Leaked Documents Show the U.S. Government Tracking Journalists and Immigration Advocates through a Secret Database
Documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates show the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports.

Florida Sixth-Grader Arrested in Pledge of Allegiance Dispute Will Not Be Prosecuted
A Florida sixth-grader who was arrested last month following a Pledge of Allegiance dispute at his school will not be prosecuted, his attorney said.

Zuckerberg Outlines Plan for ‘Privacy-Focused’ Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to develop the social media network into one focused around privacy, reducing permanence, and secure data storage. As part of his privacy goals, he said Facebook would not “store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression.”

Wilbur Ross Broke Law, Violated Constitution in Census Decision, Judge Rules
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in “bad faith,” broke several laws, and violated the constitutional underpinning of representative democracy when he added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, a federal judge ruled.


U.S. Journalist Released after Detainment by Venezuelan Authorities
Cody Weddle, the American journalist who was detained and taken into custody by Venezuelan authorities early Wednesday morning, has been released.

Russia Passes Law to Jail People for 15 Days for ‘Disrespecting’ Government
Russia’s parliament has approved a controversial law that allows courts to jail people for online “disrespect” of government or state officials, including the president.

Iran Lawyer Convicted after Defending Women Protesters
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer in Iran who defended protesters against the Islamic Republic’s mandatory headscarves for women, has been convicted and faces years in prison.

Senior Amnesty Figure Arrested in Indonesia for Singing Famous Protest Song
An Amnesty board member has been arrested by Indonesian police after a video of him singing a protest song critical of the country’s military was circulated online.

The India-Pakistan Conflict Was a Parade of Lies
“Whether you got your news from outlets based in India or Pakistan during the conflict, you would have struggled to find your way through a miasma of lies. The lies flitted across all media: There was lying on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp; there was lying on TV; there were lies from politicians; there were lies from citizens.”

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