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Jul 16, 2022

Hey everybody, I’m Joe Miller and here’s what’s going on in the world of online safety and free speech this week.


Denver case may let cops check search keywords


If a crime happens, should police be able to get a warrant that requires Google to release data on who used particular search terms? That question is at issue in a Denver criminal trial against a teen defendant who allegedly killed 5 Sengalese immigrants by setting fire to their home. Denver police nabbed the suspect using a technique called a “reverse keyword search,” under which authorities, before they even have a suspect, obtain relevant search data from search engines before the crime took place. Civil rights advocates are concerned that allowing the cops to obtain search data on arson could potentially open the floodgates for searches related to abortion – such as “Planned Parenthood” – to become fair game for law enforement officials.


But the Justice Department announced the formation of a Reproductive Task Force, Chaired by FTC Chair Vanita Gupta – a collaboration between the DOJ’s Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney community, Office of the Solicitor General, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General and Office of the Attorney General. And the House passed two Reproductive Health bills, one of which would enshrine Roe v. Wade in federal law.


Amazon shared Ring footage with police without users’ consent


Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey released more information regarding his investigation into Amazon’s Ring doorbell/videocam system. According to Markey, the relationship between Ring and the police is pretty tight. Eleven times this year, cops have been able to access Ring doorbell footage without a warrant, through a process called an “emergency circumstance exception.”  Markey also noted that Ring devices pick up audio from ordinary passersby as well, who aren’t suspected of committing a crime.


Senators urge passage of bi-partisan children’s technology bill


A bipartisan group of senators that includes Senator Markey, a Democrat, but also Republican Senators Roy Blunt and Ben Sasse urged the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee to bring the Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA) to the floor for a full Senate vote. The bill recently passed the House and it allocates resources to the National Institutes of Health to support research into the effect of screen time on children’s cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development. Markey indicated in a press release that studies show the average amount of screen time among 10-14 year olds has jumped from 3.8 to 7.7 hours per day since the beginning of the pandemic.


New Arizona law criminalizes recording the police


A new Arizona law criminalizes recording the police from less than 8 feet away, unless the videographer is the one who is being questioned by them. It’s now a misdemeanor. And anyone recording the police there within 8 feet must cease recording after the police give a warning.

That’s it for this week. You can find links to all of these stories in the show notes.


Stay safe, stay informed, have a great weekend. Ciao.