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American Bar Association survey finds significant gaps in Americans’ civic knowledge and education, including with regards to First Amendment rights. As many states replace all or many of their voting machines, advocacy groups scrutinize the close ties between vendors and the government officials buying their equipment. Searches of electronic devices including phones and laptops at U.S. border crossings ‘quadruple.’ Find out more and get involved in PEN America’s national campaign for World Press Freedom Day. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


New ABA Survey Reveals Gaps in Americans’ Civic Knowledge
The survey, undertaken in conjunction with this year’s Law Day theme, “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society,” pulled questions from the pool of 100 possible questions on the U.S. naturalization test. Only 5 percent of respondents correctly answered all 15 of the civics questions.

Trips to Vegas and Chocolate-Covered Pretzels: Election Vendors Come under Scrutiny
Part of the concern is that only three companies dominate the market. All three companies have worked closely with election officials for years, with the vendors often spending thousands of dollars to sponsor conferences and receptions attended by the officials. The industry also hires former election officials to represent them.

Phone and Laptop Searches at U.S. Border ‘Quadruple’
Searches of travelers’ laptops and mobile phones at the U.S. border have nearly quadrupled since 2015, digital rights groups have claimed in a federal lawsuit. The searches are often warrantless and therefore “unconstitutional,” allege the plaintiffs.

Google to ‘Auto-Delete’ Web Tracking History
Google is to offer users the option of automatically deleting their search and location history after three months. The search giant already allows users to manually delete the data it scoops up when they use its products such as YouTube, Maps, and Search.

15 Years Later, PEN World Voices Festival Is Still Trying to Unify the World
If in the past PEN World Voices was meant to unify American writers and intellectuals with the rest of the world, it’s now also trying to do the same within the United States’ borders. This year, for the first time, there will be additional days of programming in Los Angeles—part of an attempt to nationalize the festival.


Dutch Publishing House Brill Terminates Agreement with Chinese Publisher after Censorship Episode
Netherlands-based publishing house Brill recently ended its distribution agreement with a Chinese state-run publisher, after the latter was found to have censored out a paper submitted to one of its journals.

Pop Star-Arrest Coverage Sparks Ugandan Media Crackdown
Uganda’s media regulator ordered the suspension of journalists at 13 local TV and radio stations accused of airing sensationalized programming—just days after the widely covered arrest of a pop star who plans to challenge the president.

Rwanda’s Strongman Finally Says the Right Thing on Free Speech. Does He Mean It?
“When it comes to freedom of the press and expansion of political space in Rwanda, Kagame’s regime seems allergic to real progress. His recent statement on defamation may lead to the scrapping of the law, but that doesn’t mean Kagame is a visionary who should be embraced just yet. His regime could still persecute critics with civil suits and clamp down on opposition using other means.”

New Russian Internet Law Stokes Censorship Fears
The law, signed Wednesday, requires internet providers to install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country. Proponents said it is a defense measure in case the U.S. or other hostile powers cut off the internet for Russia.

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to DARE@pen.org