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Posts Tagged ‘Heather Lewis Donnell’

Cop Block: Fighting Law Enforcement Abuse

March 25th, 2010 No comments

Updates on February 11, 2016 and September 1, 2016: A complainant has been filing unwarranted DMCA takedown notices against this website and many others, including the Chicago Tribune, to silence reporting of this story. Filing false DMCA takedown notices against “fair use” content can result in significant legal liability such as Diebold Inc. experienced when it was forced to pay out $125,000 damages and fees to an activist group against which they filed a clearly unreasonable DMCA takedown notice. See the end of the article for more details.

Update on July 31, 2017: This article, despite being legally permissible content in the United States, has been censored as the result of one of the two victims of the alleged police abuse described in the article filing a lawsuit against the web hosting company currently used by this website. This suit was filed in Canada because the litigant (hereinafter known as MR. INTERNET CENSOR) is a resident and citizen of Canada. Our web hosting company does not have a data center in Canada, but somehow could be sued because it has done business in Canada even though our understanding is that it did no business with [MR. INTERNET CENSOR].

The company settled because it was much cheaper to do so than to fight the suit out of the US, even though it believed the complaint was without merit and it would win in court. They indicated in Canada, the loser is supposed to pay the legal fees of the winner, but if the loser does not have sufficient financial resources then of course that will not happen in actual practice. The web hosting company believed litigating would run up large costs and even though they believed they would win, they also believed [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] would be unable to pay them damages.

It was exceedingly unfair of [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] to sue them. Web hosting companies are not supposed to micro-manage or censor the legal content of their customers’ websites. These companies function much as common carriers, and they should be treated as such.

Although we understand their business considerations, the decision to settle is imperfect. While it is cheaper for them in the short run, it may invite many more Canadian lawsuits against web hosting providers by those who don’t like something that is legal speech posted online by a customer. This should be of particular concern to the vast majority of web hosting companies and websites that are too small to have international legal departments and millions of dollars to spend on defending against such suits.

We were not notified by the web hosting provider until they settled the suit a week ago. They gave us an option to censor the plaintiff’s name and image or be terminated as a customer. They hoped we would censor and remain a customer.

So for the moment, we have been pushed into censoring content globally because of this Canadian court case despite the content being legal in the US, not being a party in the case, nor having any say or due process. That this can happen does not bode well for free speech on the Internet.

While not exactly the same, it is somewhat like the recent Canadian Supreme Court action against Google in which Canadian courts repeatedly directed Google to censor content despite it not being a party in the legal dispute. Given the alarming slippery slope potential of this, Google is taking action in US courts to block Canadian censorship of the entire Internet worldwide.

Canada ought to be ashamed of its growing role in global Internet censorship, and the rest of the world should be concerned about Canada’s overreach.

If you want the information censored from this article, visit the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the Arturo’s Taco beating incident. As a larger publisher with more resources, they have so far been strong enough to withstand [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]’s campaign to eradicate legal website content he doesn’t want others to see.

If this sort of Internet censorship is a concern or interest to you, see the end of this page for more discussion.

We’ve recently added an RSS feed for a new web site called Cop Block to our web page. We’re very supportive of the work of other writers and web sites that report on the corruption and misconduct by police, prosecutors, and courts. Our own writers and their families and friends have seen similar abuses in their communities and are outraged by the lawlessness and abuse perpetrated by governments against their citizens.

One recent story on the site that caught our attention is a police brutality incident in Chicago, Illinois, that we summarize below. Click on the title below to link back to Cop Block’s story.

Chicago police beating victim Matthew Clark
Clark After Beating

‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

The essence of this story is that two friends from the University of Chicago were eating at a restaurant, somehow triggered rage in plainclothes cops over a trivial issue, and then were beaten both by those cops and uniformed officers who showed up to respond to their 911 call.
Read more…