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Russian media promoted fake tweet created to impersonate Marco Rubio that warned of British spy interference in U.S. elections. (See PEN America’s report on the spread of disinformation in election cycles.) U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal ban preventing registration for immoral or scandalous trademarks as a violation of the First Amendment. Oregon Department of Corrections is banning books about coding, citing security concerns. (See PEN America’s recent statement on the troubling trend of book bans in American prisons.) American journalist shares his experience with Customs and Border Protection, found to be searching his electronic device at the U.S.-Mexico border. (See PEN America’s statement on the privacy concerns for journalists covering news at the border subject to government surveillance.) -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Russian Accounts Pushed Fake Rubio Tweet Warning of British Spy Threat to U.S. Elections
A network of suspected Russian accounts promoted a fake tweet purportedly sent by Sen. Marco Rubio claiming that a purported British spy agency planned to derail the campaigns of Republican candidates in last November’s midterm elections. The false claim was later repeated by RT, the Russian state-backed media network.

Supreme Court Allows Trademark for F-Word Soundalike Clothing Brand
The court struck down a century-old provision of federal law that bans registration of proposed trademarks that are “scandalous” or “immoral.” Applying that rule, the government denied a trademark for the name “FUCT,” concluding that it was phonetically equivalent a well-known vulgarity.

Prisons Are Banning Books That Teach Code
The Oregon Department of Corrections has banned dozens of books related to programming and technology as they come through the mail room, ensuring that they don’t get to the hands of people in prisons, citing concerns about security.

I’m a Journalist but I Didn’t Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials until They Violated My Rights and Privacy
“After I gave him the password to my iPhone, the border patrol agent spent three hours reviewing hundreds of photos and videos and emails and calls and texts, including encrypted messages on WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. It was the digital equivalent of tossing someone’s house.”


In Hong Kong, the Freedom to Publish Is under Attack *See PEN America’s November 2016 report about the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers here
For most of the world’s publishers, it would be very unusual for editors to take into account a country’s extradition laws before greenlighting a book. And yet, publishers and booksellers based in Hong Kong may well have to do so, due to a proposed new extradition policy that would have painful and chilling effects on publishing.

Ukraine’s Journalists Demand Action after Reporter Killed
An investigative reporter who uncovered corruption, Vadym Komarov’s death has highlighted the vulnerability of activists and journalists trying to hold authorities accountable in the country’s regions, away from the media spotlight in the capital.

Cambodia Considers New Anti-‘Fake News’ Effort
Attendees at an Asian media conference agreed to develop a regional road map for combating fake news. A number of governments are cracking down on press freedom in the region, including the host nation.

How a New Generation of Nigerian Writers Is Salvaging Tradition from Colonial Erasure
In the last decade, a new generation of Nigerian writers has collected the torch from the pioneers and is creating new canons around contemporary issues. And, especially over the past year, there have been attempts to revisit and recenter our religions as realities, not superstitions, of the modern world.

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