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National Security Agency recommends that the White House drops the phone surveillance program that allows for data collection from millions of phone calls and text messages in the United States. Facebook expected to face record fines over violations of user privacy. In a speech at Amherst College, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that the country should ‘accept the results’ of the Mueller investigation and move on. (See PEN America’s latest report on the state of free expression on college campuses at a time of heightened political polarization.) -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


NSA Recommends Dropping Phone-Surveillance Program
The National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a surveillance program that collects information about U.S. phone calls and text messages, saying the logistical and legal burdens of keeping it outweigh its intelligence benefits, according to people familiar with the matter.

Facebook Expects to Be Fined up to $5 Billion by F.T.C. over Privacy Issues
Facebook said on Wednesday that it expected to be fined up to $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations. The penalty would be a record by the agency against a technology company and a sign that the United States was willing to punish big tech companies.

Jeff Sessions Speaks about Donald Trump and the 2016 Election at Amherst College
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose appearance at the elite school was met with a walk-out and protests, spent much of his 30-minute speech criticizing liberal college students who, he said, have gone overboard in their political correctness and drown out the voices of conservative students.

‘Free Speech Isn’t Free, Is It?’: A Story on a Teen Porn Worker Could Cost a High School Journalism Teacher Her Job
A high school newspaper story about a teen porn worker is encountering resistance from school administrators. The officials are threatening to dismiss the paper’s faculty adviser if she doesn’t submit the article to them for prior review. The demand, which has become more frequent nationwide, has opened a bitter debate over censorship and free expression in California’s Central Valley.


A Journalist’s Funeral Shows Northern Ireland’s Progress, and Its Regressions
Despite their profoundly different views on how Northern Ireland should be run, politicians on both sides of the political spectrum gathered in a packed St. Anne’s to mourn the death of Lyra McKee, a journalist shot dead last Thursday by militant nationalists in Londonderry, also known as Derry.

Pakistani Court Extends Bail for Journalist Accused of Cybercrimes
A Pakistani court has extended the bail of Shahzeb Jillani, an investigative reporter accused of cybercrimes, until April 27. Jillani, who works for the Urdu-language Dunya News TV channel, is accused of “cyberterrorism” and making “defamatory remarks against the respected institutions of Pakistan.”

After Journalist’s Murder, Efforts to Combat SLAPP in Europe
Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) legislation exists in much of the world, including in 28 U.S. states and parts of Canada and Australia. But in Europe judges are often unfamiliar with the phenomenon of SLAPPs, and lack understanding that libel suits are being used by plaintiffs in this way.

Fears Over Singapore’s ‘Fake News’ Proposal
New Singaporean legislation that is set to ban “false information” online hosted anywhere in the world poses a “severe threat” to academic freedom across the globe, scholars have warned. They fear that the bill could be used to censor academic papers across the world

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