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February 12, 2015 3

The Right to Be Forgotten Has No Place in the U.S.

right-to-be-forgottenThe right to be forgotten—the right of Inter­net users to request that search engines remove links to out­dated or embar­rass­ing infor­ma­tion about them­selves from search results—is once more in the head­lines in Europe. Recently, fol­low­ing up on a pre­vi­ous Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice rul­ing that indi­vid­u­als have the right to ask search engines to remove links to “inad­e­quate, irrel­e­vant, or no longer rel­e­vant” infor­ma­tion about them­selves online, Euro­pean reg­u­la­tors and judges have called for Google and other search engines to apply the Right to Be For­got­ten around the world, regard­less of which coun­try the search engine serves and where the search takes place. How­ever, the Advi­sory Coun­cil that Google appointed to look into the issue has rec­om­mended that Google limit its response to European-directed search ser­vices, such as google.fr (used in France) and google.de (used in Ger­many) and not extend it out­side the Euro­pean Union. That Coun­cil, in a new report, found that there is “a com­pet­ing inter­est on the part of users out­side of Europe to access infor­ma­tion via a name-based search in accor­dance with the laws of their coun­try, which may be in con­flict with the delist­ings afforded by the rul­ing.”  ADL agrees with their recommendation.

Last Novem­ber the Anti-Defamation League adopted a pol­icy posi­tion that “indi­vid­u­als should not have the right to have links to old and/or embar­rass­ing infor­ma­tion about them­selves removed from Inter­net search results.” Doing so is tan­ta­mount to tak­ing a scalpel to library books, allow­ing peo­ple to tear from pub­lic record things about them­selves from the past that they sim­ply do not like. The Right to Be For­got­ten could allow, for exam­ple, a white suprema­cist to erase all traces of his his­tory of big­oted rhetoric before run­ning for pub­lic office, deny­ing the pub­lic access to make a fully informed decision.

The Inter­net has pro­vided the largest and most robust mar­ket­place of ideas in his­tory, open­ing lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion around the world. As the Inter­net brings the world closer, how­ever, coun­tries must be cog­nizant of the impact that their laws and reg­u­la­tions have in other parts of the world. In the United States the First Amend­ment pro­vides much stronger pro­tec­tions for free speech than the laws do in Europe. Amer­i­cans, and search engines based in the United States, should con­tinue to respect the laws and found­ing prin­ci­ples of our coun­try, deny­ing the right to be for­got­ten here.


El Dere­cho a Ser Olvi­dado No Tiene Lugar en Esta­dos Unidos

El dere­cho a ser olvi­dado —el dere­cho de los usuar­ios de Inter­net a solic­i­tar que los motores de búsqueda elim­i­nen de los resul­ta­dos de búsqueda los vín­cu­los a infor­ma­ción desac­tu­al­izada o ver­gonzosa sobre sí mis­mos— está una vez más en los tit­u­lares europeos. Recien­te­mente, a con­se­cuen­cia de un fallo ante­rior de un tri­bunal de jus­ti­cia europeo según el cual los indi­vid­uos tienen el dere­cho de pedir que los motores de búsqueda elim­i­nen los enlaces a infor­ma­ción en línea “inade­cuada, irrel­e­vante o no per­ti­nente” sobre sí mis­mos, los jue­ces y reg­u­ladores europeos han pedido a Google y otros motores de búsqueda aplicar el dere­cho a ser olvi­dado alrede­dor del mundo, inde­pen­di­en­te­mente del país del bus­cador y de donde se real­iza la búsqueda. Sin embargo, el Con­sejo Asesor que designó Google para inves­ti­gar el tema, ha recomen­dado que Google lim­ite su respuesta a los ser­vi­cios de búsqueda enfo­ca­dos a Europa especí­fi­ca­mente, como google.fr (uti­lizado en Fran­cia) y google.de (usado en Ale­ma­nia), y que no la aplique fuera de la Unión Euro­pea. El mismo Con­sejo, en un nuevo informe, encon­tró que hay “un interés con­flic­tivo de parte de los usuar­ios fuera de Europa por acceder a la infor­ma­ción medi­ante una búsqueda basada en el nom­bre de con­formi­dad con las leyes de su país, que pueden estar en con­flicto con la opción de elim­i­nación ofre­cida por la sen­ten­cia”. La ADL está de acuerdo con su recomendación.

En noviem­bre pasado la Liga Antid­ifamación adoptó una posi­ción política según la cual “las per­sonas no deberían tener el dere­cho a que los enlaces a infor­ma­ción vieja o ver­gonzosa sobre sí mis­mos sean elim­i­na­dos de los resul­ta­dos de búsqueda en Inter­net”. Hac­erlo equiv­al­dría a aplicar un bis­turí a libros de la bib­lioteca, per­mi­tiendo a la gente arran­car de los archivos públi­cos cosas sobre sí mis­mos que sim­ple­mente no les gus­tan. El Dere­cho a Ser Olvi­dado podría per­mi­tir, por ejem­plo, que un supremacista blanco bor­rara todos los ras­tros de su his­to­ria de retórica intol­er­ante antes de pos­tu­larse para car­gos públi­cos, negando al público la posi­bil­i­dad de tomar una decisión com­ple­ta­mente informada.

Inter­net ha pro­por­cionado el mer­cado más grande y robusto de ideas en la his­to­ria, abriendo líneas de comu­ni­cación alrede­dor del mundo. Sin embargo, a medida que Inter­net acerca al mundo, los países deben ser con­scientes del impacto que sus leyes y reg­u­la­ciones tienen en otras partes del mundo. En Esta­dos Unidos, la Primera Enmienda pro­por­ciona garan­tías a la lib­er­tad de expre­sión mucho más fuertes que las leyes en Europa. Los esta­dounidenses y los motores de búsqueda con sede en Esta­dos Unidos deben seguir respetando las leyes y prin­ci­p­ios fun­da­cionales de nue­stro país, negando el dere­cho a ser olvidados.

 

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October 8, 2014 0

Gun Range Owner’s Offensive Ban on Muslim Patrons is Unlawful

jan-morgan-gun

Jan Mor­gan

Cit­ing to pub­lic safety con­cerns stem­ming from the 9/11 attacks and a recent Okla­homa work­place behead­ing, Arkansas gun range owner Jan Mor­gan last week pub­licly declared her busi­ness a “Muslim-Free zone.”  Although this odi­ous and unlaw­ful dec­la­ra­tion has been removed from her Face­book page, a mes­sage on Morgan’s Twit­ter account states that the rule still stands.

In a dia­tribe jus­ti­fy­ing her deci­sion,  Mor­gan wrongly claims that Islam is not a reli­gion.   And there­fore, she erro­neously con­cludes that Mus­lims are not enti­tled to First Amend­ment guar­an­tees of reli­gious free­dom.  Mor­gan also falsely asserts that she has the option to bar Mus­lim patrons from her gun range.  But this ban bla­tantly vio­lates the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993, which  pro­hibits  “… any estab­lish­ment, either licensed of unli­censed, that sup­plies … ser­vices to gen­eral pub­lic … “ from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against a per­son “… because of … religion.”

Later admit­ting that the anti-Muslim ban dis­re­gards the law,  Mor­gan nonethe­less declared  that she “will do what­ever is nec­es­sary to pro­vide a safe envi­ron­ment for my cus­tomers, even at the cost of the increased threats and legal prob­lems this deci­sion will likely pro­voke.”  Although she relies on the Sec­ond Amend­ment to remain in busi­ness, Mor­gan wants to ignore fed­eral and state Equal Pro­tec­tion Clause prin­ci­ples cod­i­fied in anti-discrimination laws.  Pick­ing and choose among legal pro­tec­tions is sim­ply not an option in our nation of laws, and Mor­gan would be wise to revoke her offen­sive ban against Mus­lim patrons.

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July 14, 2014 0

Hobby Lobby Elicits Varied Editorial Responses

On June 30, the Supreme Court in Bur­well v. Hobby Lobby affirmed the right of family-owned com­pa­nies to deny employ­ees, based on the reli­gious beliefs of the employer, health insur­ance cov­er­age for con­tra­cep­tives. As Pro­fes­sor Erwin Chemerin­sky warned at the ADL’s 2014 Supreme Court Review, the deci­sion could have far-reaching impli­ca­tions for work­ers’ civil and reli­gious rights.newspapers-hobby-lobby

Edi­to­r­ial boards for the nations’ top news­pa­pers opposed the land­mark deci­sion by a 2–1 ratio. Of the fifty news­pa­pers with the high­est cir­cu­la­tion, twenty-five dis­agreed with the Supreme Court’s posi­tion in Hobby Lobby. Thir­teen sup­ported the deci­sion. Twelve offered no opin­ion on the topic.

Of those peri­od­i­cals that opposed the deci­sion, some objected to the Supreme Court’s increas­ing will­ing­ness to grant legal pro­tec­tions to cor­po­ra­tions that tra­di­tion­ally have been reserved for human beings. The Cleve­land Plain Dealer insisted that “cor­po­ra­tions are not ‘per­sons’ who think, breathe and exer­cise first-amendment rights or prac­tice reli­gious beliefs,” and warned that “[t]reating them as if they are will inevitably nar­row free­doms for oth­ers.” The Detroit Free Press called the deci­sion an expan­sion of “the majority’s already inflated notion of cor­po­rate personhood.”

Other oppo­nents view the deci­sion as a set­back for repro­duc­tive rights. The San Jose Mer­cury News crit­i­cized the Court for fail­ing to rec­og­nize the impor­tance of access to con­tra­cep­tives for women’s rights: “World­wide, the sin­gle great­est fac­tor in lift­ing soci­eties out of poverty is women gain­ing the abil­ity to con­trol when they become preg­nant.” The Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bunesaid that “allow­ing an employer to choose which type of con­tra­cep­tion mer­its cov­er­age reverts to an ear­lier, darker age in atti­tudes about women’s role in reproduction.”

Still oth­ers fear that the deci­sion opens the door to fur­ther ero­sion indi­vid­u­als’ rights and gov­ern­ment entan­gle­ment in the exer­cise of reli­gion. The New York Times called the deci­sion “a rad­i­cal depar­ture from the court’s his­tory of resist­ing claims for reli­gious exemp­tions from neu­tral laws of gen­eral applic­a­bil­ity when the exemp­tions would hurt other peo­ple.” USA Today warned of the “deeply dis­turb­ing propo­si­tion” that the deci­sion could force the gov­ern­ment to judge “whether a business’s reli­gious prin­ci­ples merit spe­cial treat­ment that its more sec­u­lar com­peti­tors don’t get.” The Wash­ing­ton Post urged Con­gress to limit the dam­age of the deci­sion by leg­isla­tively over­turn­ing it.

Sup­port­ers, how­ever, hail Hobby Lobby as a bold recog­ni­tion of reli­gious lib­erty. The Wall Street Jour­nal called the deci­sion “an impor­tant vin­di­ca­tion of reli­gious lib­erty in this (still, bless­edly) con­sti­tu­tional repub­lic.” The New York Daily News cel­e­brated that Court’s con­clu­sion that “own­ers of closely held com­pa­nies should not be forced to sac­ri­fice their reli­gious lib­erty sim­ply because they incor­po­rated to do business.”

How­ever one views the Court’s deci­sion, Hobby Lobby clearly touches on many polit­i­cal and legal fault lines. The ADL believes that the deci­sion threat­ens many anti-discrimination laws and will work to limit its impact.

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