Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook View our profile on LinkedIn View our videos on YouTube


FIRST AMENDMENT
OF U.S. CONSTITUTION 
Congress shall make 
no law respecting an establishment of religion, 
or prohibiting the free 
exercise thereof; or 
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; 
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, 
and to petition the 
Government for a 
redress of grievances.

ABOUT NEFAC 

2016 MAJOR SUPPORTERS 




Boston Globe logo







LEARN ABOUT OUR ANNUAL NEW ENGLAND FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE







NEFAC'S ANNUAL 
NEW ENGLAND FIRST AMENDMENT AWARDS








SUNSHINE WEEK 2016









FILE FREE FOI REQUEST

LEARN ABOUT OUR ANNUAL NEW ENGLAND FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE







NEFAC'S ANNUAL 
NEW ENGLAND FIRST AMENDMENT AWARDS








SUNSHINE WEEK 2016









FILE FREE FOI REQUEST


Raimondo Vetoes 'Revenge Porn' Bill | North Kingston Standard-Times 6.24.16
"Revenge porn is an issue that clearly needs to be addressed. But this isn't the solution," said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. "Privacy needs to be protected in a way that does not deter journalists from reporting stories that are in the public's interest."

Raimondo Issues First Veto, Over 'Revenge Porn' | WPRI 6.21.16 The bill, which cleared the General Assembly last week, was backed by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. Supporters said it was designed to punish individuals who distribute sexually explicit material without the consent of everyone involved. But watchdog groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the New England First Amendment Coalition had urged Raimondo to veto the bill, describing it as unconstitutional, and in the end the governor agreed.

Gov. Raimondo Vetoes 'Revenge Porn' Bill | Associated Press 6.21.16
After failing to persuade lawmakers to stop the bill, which passed unanimously through the Senate and on a 
68-1 vote in the House, groups including the New England First Amendment Coalition and the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union began publicly calling for a veto last week.

The New England First Amendment Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Press Association are urging Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to veto a new measure meant to deal with "revenge porn" and "sextortion."

Trump's Press Enemies List Grows | Providence Journal 6.18.16 "If how he responds to the press is any indication of how he may lead the country as president, we can expect what little transparency remains from the Obama administration to disappear entirely," said New England First Amendment Coalition executive director Justin Silverman. "Throughout the entire campaign, he has considered the Fourth Estate an enemy and vowed to weaken First Amendment protections. He's shielding himself from scrutiny, and that should trouble anyone who values open government and accountability. Regardless of anyone's political allegiance, the First Amendment and the role of the press is something we should all be rallying around."

Watchdog Groups Urge Raimondo to Veto 'Revenge Porn' Bill | Associated Press 6.16.16 The New England First Amendment Coalition, the ACLU, and the Rhode Island Press Association said Thursday that while well-intentioned the bill passed by the state House and Senate is so "breathtakingly broad" in its reach that it criminalizes activity involving neither revenge nor porn, for example, legitimate news stories, and people viewing or sharing widely publicized nude images they didn't create.

In Reversal, Judge Rules City Hall Subpoenas Can Remain Secret | The Boston Globe 6.15.16 The law enforcement memorandum will also remain confidential under the ruling and has not been shown to lawyers for the city or the Globe. The secrecy troubled Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. 
"There's something wrong when a court strongly endorses transparency and declares records to be public, just to later allow those records to be withheld for secret reasons," Silverman said in an e-mail.

"This is a bad run for Pawtucket," New England First Amendment Coalition executive director Justin Silverman said. "I am still scratching my head." 
Obviously, there was no arrest in the murder/suicide, but the city can still release records, Silverman said. "And whose privacy would be invaded with two individuals who are dead? When a crime occurs in a community, those who live in the community are entitled to know about that crime and the parties involved."

According to the Massachusetts Freedom of Information Alliance, a coalition of open government groups Common Cause, ACLU of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and New England First Amendment Coalition, the following changes would come to the field of open records with the governor's signature . . .

Massachusetts Bans Photos in the Voting Booth | Mass Live 5.3.16 "Political speech is a 'core' concern of the First Amendment and protection of speech is never stronger than when the speaker is addressing political or government issues," said NEFAC, a nonprofit based in Westborough.

Snapchat Wants to Make Your Voting Selfies Legal | Cosmopolitan 4.27.16 Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, agrees with Snapchat. . . . The reason it's important to legalize voting booth photography surpasses the right to selfie, Silverman argues. 

Why New Hampshire's Ban On Ballot Selfies Is A Threat To Freedom Of Expression | WGBH 4.26.16 The New England First Amendment Coalition has filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief laying out the case against the selfie ban. Filed in conjunction with the Keene Sentinel and prepared by the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, it is a humdinger. . . "Political speech is a 'core' concern of the First Amendment," the amici write, "and protection of speech is never stronger than when the speaker is addressing political or governmental issues.

We welcome contributions 
to the NEFAC Report from journalists, lawyers, academics 
or other advocates of 
government transparency. If 
you have something to add 
to the conversation, please let 
us know. Your stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value. Please email submissions to [email protected]



 



 NEFAC REPORT | June 2016
Spring Fundraiser
Will You Help? | Today is the last day of our spring fundraiser. Please support NEFAC and make a contribution. [Donate]

NEFAC News
NEFAC, Media Groups Applaud R.I. Governor's Veto of 'Revenge Porn' Bill

June 15 letter by NEFAC and fellow media advocates urging 
the governor's veto
The groups urged the governor to veto the legislation, stating that the bill was so broadly worded that it could make criminals of people involved in neither revenge nor porn and would have a direct impact on the First Amendment rights of the media. "We are pleased that Governor Raimondo vetoed this well-intended though unconstitutionally broad legislation," said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. "By doing so, she helped protect the First Amendment rights of Rhode Island residents and prevented a chilling effect on public interest journalism. We welcome the opportunity to work with legislators and privacy advocates to make sure any future legislation adequately addresses the harm of revenge porn while also preserving our First Amendment freedoms." [
More] [Additional Coverage]
Efforts By NEFAC, Media and FOI Groups Result in Suspension of Maine Policy Prohibiting Access to Closed Criminal Cases

May 17 letter sent on behalf
of NEFAC and other open government advocates
protesting the now-
suspended records policy
The New England First Amendment Coalition recently joined 13 open government and media organizations to protest a new Maine policy that prohibited public access to closed criminal cases. The groups called for the policy's suspension which occurred this month after several days of discussion between the organizations and state officials. The judicial branch policy required all records of dismissed criminal cases, except those involving a plea deal, to become automatically confidential 30 days after dismissal. The policy seriously undermined the First Amendment and the public's right to know, argued NEFAC's Sigmund Schutz, an attorney at PretiFlaherty and a member of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition. Schutz wrote to state officials on behalf of the groups. [More] [Additional Coverage]

A Victory for Transparency: Mass. Public Records Reform Bill Signed into Law
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law this month legislation that will improve access to public records and provide recourse to citizens unjustly denied government information. The New England First Amendment Coalition, a steering member of the Massachusetts Freedom of Information Alliance, has been a leader in the effort to reform the state's current public records statute, a law not significantly updated in more than 40 years and widely considered to be one of the worst in the nation. "This is a victory for those who value transparency and the public's right to know," said Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director. "This new law brings respectability back to our public records statute. It will help us all stay informed and keep our government accountable." [More] [Additional Coverage]

NEFAI 2016
Deadline Aug. 31 | Applications are now available for fellowships to the 2016 New England First Amendment Institute. This sixth annual institute will be held from Oct. 16-18 in Dedham, Mass. NEFAC provides the three-day investigative journalism workshop each year to 25 journalists working within the region. The institute is provided to these journalism fellows at no cost and features many of the country's elite investigative reporters, editors and media attorneys. [Learn More] [Application]

Blog
Public Records are Cornerstone of
Government Transparency in Vermont
Records management is not exactly an exciting topic, but when a particular record is the focus of a request or controversy, it becomes critically important in that moment. Those records are owned by the state of Vermont and are incredibly valuable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are accountability and preserving confidence in state government. Moments like these are opportunities to talk about the importance of records and information management and what it means for Vermonters. [More]

With New Threats to First Amendment, Journalists Need New Ways to Fund Cases
Throughout the last century, newspapers played a pivotal role in defending press freedoms and shaping First Amendment jurisprudence. But with technology changing the legal landscape and challenging the First Amendment in new ways, newspapers are now struggling to defend themselves. While issues such as defamation and "right to reply" are largely settled, we now live in a world of Internet anonymity, iPhone encryption and leaked sex tapes. The extent of First Amendment protections continues to be questioned, yet according to one recent survey most editors believe their news organizations aren't prepared to answer. The reason, according to nearly all of them, is simple: money. [More]

Other FOI and First Amendment News
            National

            Trump, Press Relations
________________________________________________

            Connecticut

            Maine

            Warden Service, Public Records
________________________________________________

             Massachusetts

            MassPRPublic Records Reform
            Boston Herald, Scholz Defamation Case
            City Hall Subpoenas
            Budget Discussions, Transparency
________________________________________________

            New Hampshire

            Rhode Island

            RevengePornRevenge Porn Legislation, First Amendment
________________________________________________