Student Attorneys Examine Human Rights Challenges Posed by Pakistan’s E-Safety Bill

On behalf of our client Bolo Bhi—a leading digital rights organization in Pakistan—TLPC student attorneys Rina Mehana, Sophie Pickering, and Matt Engebretsen prepared a report raising serious concerns about the impacts of proposed E-Safety Legislation in Pakistan on the human and constitutional rights of the country’s citizens.

Approved in principle by Pakistan’s federal cabinet on July 26, 2023, the E-Safety Bill aims to regulate online platforms under the guise of promoting safety. However, TLPC’s report identifies significant human rights concerns with the bill—particularly with regard to freedom of expression and access to information. Our report uncovers various flaws with the bill that could undermine digital freedoms, including ambiguous language and provisions that reach far beyond what legitimate E-Safety regulation would target.

Our report was published by Bolo Bhi on its website and is available to download by clicking on the link below.

TLPC Publishes Report Documenting the Challenges of Regulating Election Disinformation in Pakistan

Led by student attorneys Sebastian Blitt, Madeline Finlayson, and Sarah Misché, the TLPC prepared a report on behalf of Bolo Bhi, a civil society organization based in Pakistan, discussing the challenges associated with regulating election disinformation in Pakistan ahead of the elections this February. Bolo Bhi published the report on its website on February 5—three days before the country’s general elections.

Although the spread of disinformation can cause serious harm, laws that seek to regulate disinformation can be misused to suppress legitimate political dissent and criticism. TLPC’s report analyzed both enacted legislation in Pakistan, including the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, and proposed legislation, such as the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act Amendment. Each of these measures employs a broad and vague definition of disinformation, providing agencies of the Pakistani government a mechanism to remove unfavorable content, and to punish those who posted it. This raises special concerns regarding the rights of journalists and political dissidents engaging in political discourse leading up to the General Election on February 8.

The report finds that both the current and proposed measures fail to protect the right to free expression guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan and by international human rights law. Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan requires that restrictions on expression be reasonable, including being no more burdensome than necessary. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights only permits restrictions on freedom of expression that are clearly provided by law and necessary to achieve narrow aims. The overbroad and vague definition of disinformation used in the various pieces of legislation that TLPC analyzed fails to meet either of these standards, and therefore imposes unreasonable restrictions on freedom of expression.

TLPC Files Amicus Brief in Constitutional Challenge of Controversial Copyright Law

Led by student attorneys Alexys Aylward, Kevin Nguyen, and Manuela Ramirez Cruz, this week TLPC filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a coalition of fair users in support of a constitutional challenge to a controversial copyright law.

Enacted in 1998, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) bars the circumvention of “technological protection measures” (TPMs) indented to protect copyrighted works from unauthorized reproduction, unless one obtains permission from the Copyright Office through a tedious rulemaking process that occurs once every three years. A lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of noted security researcher Matthew Green and several others challenges the constitutionality of Section 1201 under the First Amendment, in view of the burdens the provision imposes on the free speech rights of Americans.

The TLPC’s amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of accessibility organizations, libraries and archival organizations, and computer security researches explains how Section 1201 violates the First Amendment by preventing them from making fair uses of copyrighted materials encumbered by TPMs—unless they subject themselves to the burdensome and undignified process of obtaining an exemption from the Copyright Office. The brief argues that the burdens of participating in the exemption process, combined with the fact that the exemption process is available only once every three years, are beyond what the First Amendment can bear.

This week’s brief marks the second time the TLPC has represented a diverse coalition of fair users in this case, which was first filed in 2016. The Court is expected to decide the case in the new year.

The signatories of the brief drafted by the TLPC are:

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
The American Library Association (ALA)
Andrew W. Appel
The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
The Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-Text Providers (ATSP)
The Software Preservation Network
Steven M. Bellovin
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Haring, Inc (TDI).

The brief can be downloaded by clicking here or on the image below.

FCC Approves Changes to Carceral Communications

(by Jackson McNeal, Colorado Law 2L)

On September 29th, the FCC approved a Report and Order making substantive changes that improve access to relay services eligible for funding through the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for incarcerated people with disabilities, while also seeking comment on further reforms to expand the provision of communications services for incarcerated people with disabilities.

Continue reading “FCC Approves Changes to Carceral Communications”

TLPC Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Accessibility, Security, and Repair Fair Users Urging DC Circuit to Strike Down Controversial Copyright Law as Unconstitutional

Led by Colorado Law student attorneys John Jang, Victoria Venzor, and Peter Troupe, the TLPC today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of a coalition of accessibility, security, and repair individuals and organizations, supporting the lawsuit of security researcher Dr. Matthew Green and others, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, over a controversial copyright law. The brief urged the court to conclude that Section 1201 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code, added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, violates the First Amendment by chilling fair uses aimed at making copyrighted works accessible to people with disabilities, researching security vulnerabilities in computer software, and repairing software-enabled vehicles and devices. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs) on copyrighted works, requiring accessibility, security, and repair organizations to pursue exemptions in a burdensome triennial rulemaking conducted by the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The brief details the substantive and procedural harms of Section 1201 and the rulemaking to the First Amendment rights of people with disabilities, disability services organizations and libraries, security researchers, and ordinary consumers and repair professionals.

TLPC Submits Comments on Carceral Communications Accessibility for Accessibility Coalition

(by Cameron Benavides, TLPC Student Attorney)

In consultation with HEARD and on behalf of our client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) and a coalition of numorous deaf and hard of hearing advocacy and research organizations, the TLPC filed comments and reply comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s pending proceeding on addressing the accessibility of communications systems in carceral facilities.

Continue reading “TLPC Submits Comments on Carceral Communications Accessibility for Accessibility Coalition”

TLPC Files Comments in the Eighth Section 1201 Triennial Review

Today, the TLPC filed a series of comments in the Copyright Office’s Eighth Triennial Review of exemptions from the anticircumvention measures of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows stakeholders to apply for and receive broader temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The TLPC filed comments on four exemptions, one focused on security research and the other three on various accessibility purposes.

Continue reading “TLPC Files Comments in the Eighth Section 1201 Triennial Review”