Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Photography on DC Metro raises troubling legal and privacy questions, and maybe c.p.

There is more controversy now about photography in public places, after WJLA-7 in Washington DC reported a story of people being secretly filmed on the Metro and then some mildly compromising images showing up on porn sites.

Since the photography happened in a public place, there is a real question as to whether this broke any laws. If some of the targets are minors (females in all cases), there might be a question about child pornography.
But there is more talk that laws regarding photography even in public need to be upgraded.  But n another case near the Lincoln Memorial, someone was convicted of a misdemeanor for “upskirting” photos, on Park Service property.  I’m not sure of the legal difference. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Another visit to SCOTUS replays the two battles there over COPA in the past.

When I went to the Supreme Court Monday through the “three minute line” (Monday on my main “Bill Boushka” blog, the Elonis case), I was reminded of the fact that I had attended two other times, once in March 1997 to hear arguments about the “Communications Decency Act”, the censorship portion of which would get overturned;  and on March 2, 2004, when SCOTUS hear oral arguments on COPS (the Child Online Protection Act) for a second time (the first time, in 2002, the "national standard" question, similar to obscenity, had been settled).  This time, the idea of a national standard had been accepted, and the Supreme Court was hearing whether to continue an injunction against enforcement from the Third Circuit (in 2003). The court found the questions of vagueness and “least restrictive means” compelling enough that it kept the injunction and ordered a trial on merits, which was held in Philadelphia in October 2006. Another "Smallville problem" was whether "minors" meant "all minors" or "some minors" -- most teenagers are not as cognitively mature as Clark Kent at 14 in the televisions series.  
In the three-minute line that day I had an interesting discussion with a high school civics teacher on “full faith and credit” and how that could affect gay marriage, in the early days of the gradual legalization of it.  I also had lunch with some Naval Academy midshipmen visiting the Court and discussed “don’t ask, don’t tell”.  One of the female midshipmen disputed the idea that an adult-id scheme would be unworkable, but feared it would allow the government – in their case the Navy – to monitor their online activity. 
History may have proved her right.  I also recall that on at least one occasion, when working as a substitute teacher, I briefed some social studies teachers on COPA during "planning period" and lunch at Haywood Secondary School near Alexandria, in early 2005.