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FCC’s vote to repeal net neutrality met with multi-state lawsuit. Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s planned purchase of Tribune Media likely to be approved by Justice Department, on condition of selling some TV stations to alleviate concerns about competition. Little-known agency in House of Representatives that oversees complaints including sexual misconduct faces increasing criticism and demands for transparency and accountability. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator

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


New York attorney general announces a multi-state lawsuit challenging the net neutrality vote
“Today’s new rule would enable ISPs to charge consumers more to access certain sites and give them the leverage to degrade video quality unless somebody pays them more money. Even worse, it would enable ISPs to favor certain viewpoints over others,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a press release.

Sinclair’s Purchase of Tribune Likely to Win Approval of Justice Department
Critics say Sinclair already shortchanges truly local news coverage in favor of homogenized material and they worry the company will distribute content that lacks a diversity of viewpoints. If the deal is approved, the company will serve more than 39% of households, a violation of the audience limit set by Congress.

How House members quietly sidestep harassment claims
The revelation that there is a separate office facilitating and paying for sexual harassment investigations, with little transparency and apparently little oversight, rankled critics of Congress’s handling of sexual harassment, who said that the office may be playing more of a role covering up offenses than revealing them.

Turning Point USA Sues Arkansas State Over Speech Zones
Student Ashlyn Hoggard set up a table hoping to generate interest in forming a campus chapter of conservative group, Turning Point USA, but an administrator told her to stop speaking to students citing the university’s speech zone policy, which sets times and places for speeches, distributions of written material, and marches.


Reuters demands Myanmar release 2 arrested journalists
Reuters news agency called on Myanmar to immediately release two of its journalists who were arrested for possessing “important secret papers” obtained from two policemen who had worked in Rakhine state, where violence forced more than 630,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.

Paul Golding: Britain First leader charged with threatening behaviour
The far-right group’s deputy, Jayda Fransen, also faces charges for the use of “threatening, abusive, or insulting” speech. Ms. Fransen’s barrister Richard McConkey branded the curbs on her freedom of speech disproportionate and said his client was pleading not guilty. He accused police of trying to use the court to censor a politician.

At Least 6,700 Rohingya Died in Myanmar Crackdown, Aid Group Says
Doctors Without Borders estimated that at least 6,700 members of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, including 730 children below age 5, had met violent deaths there in the month after a military crackdown on their villages. The campaign has been deemed “ethnic cleansing” by the United States and the United Nations.

Bookseller says Beijing detention deal won’t ease Hongkongers’ ‘worst fears’
Hong Kong and Beijing authorities committed to informing each other within seven working days when someone is being held for possible crimes. But bookseller Lam Wing-kee described the new deal as “not too meaningful” as it did not touch on Hongkongers’ “worst fears” about their personal safety and freedoms.

Canadian net neutrality supporters say FCC decision will ‘chip away’ at key pillar of the internet
Comparing net neutrality to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, Navdeep Bains, the federal minister responsible for telecommunications in Canada, said, “We believe that an open and accessible internet is vital to the free flow of content and information, which, in turn, is vital to our democracy.”

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