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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.



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Keeping Information Secret Can Make Disease Outbreaks Worse | Bangor Daily News 7.26.16 Such restrictions
run counter to the American Public Health Association's recommendations for sharing information during disease outbreaks, the New England First Amendment Coalition noted in comments opposing the rules changes, which it called "neither necessary nor helpful."

Freedom of Information Act Turns 50 Thanks to 'LBJ' | Mass Live 7.24.16 Also in June,
the state of Maine, after protests filed by the New England First Amendment Coalition and other open-government groups, suspended a new policy that had prohibited public access to closed criminal cases. The judicial branch policy had required that all records of dismissed criminal cases, except those involving a plea deal, become automatically confidential 30 days after dismissal, the coalition said. "The policy seriously undermined the First Amendment and the public's right to know," the coalition said.

Companies that produce some of the new technologies, such as the makers of education software and drones, fear the restrictions will stifle innovation and commerce. Others, such as Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, say some of the restrictions, such as those on drones, body cameras and "revenge porn" - nude or sexually graphic images shared without consent - may infringe on free speech protections.

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.

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 | July 2016
New England First Amendment Institute
Bill Keller, Former Executive Editor of The New York Times, to Keynote NEFAI 2016
New England First Amendment Institute Applications Due August 31; Twenty-Five Journalism Fellows to Be Selected

Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times and current editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system, will deliver the keynote address at this year's New England First Amendment Institute. 

The New England First Amendment Coalition offers the three-day institute each year at no cost to 25 New England journalists. The sixth annual institute is from Oct. 16-18 in Dedham, Mass. Applications can be found here and must be received by Aug. 31. 

Application Materials
"We're very excited to have Bill open NEFAI 2016," said Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director. "He is one of the leading voices in journalism and has a wealth of experience to share with this year's fellows. We're honored to have him kick-off what will be a very impressive program."

NEFAI provides editors and reporters with the support and training necessary to become accomplished investigative journalists, well-versed in the freedom of information laws that govern today's difficult reporting landscape. Many exceptional, award-winning journalists and First Amendment attorneys volunteer as faculty each year. [More] [About NEFAI 2016] [Application Materials]

NEFAC Cautions Maine CDC on Dangers 
of Proposed Health Data Disclosure Limits

July 25 Letter to CDC
The New England First Amendment Coalition recently urged the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to reconsider proposed policy changes that would severely curtail the right of Maine residents to know the location of disease outbreaks in their communities. 

"While these changes are intended to protect the privacy of individuals, they are neither necessary nor helpful to the public's response to infectious disease outbreaks. Worse, they may jeopardize the safety of those who would otherwise learn of potential risks to their health," wrote Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director, in a July 25 letter to the center. 

The center's proposal would allow the withholding of information about disease outbreaks that, while not directly identifying individuals, could arguably be combined with other data to result in identification. This data could include the location of the outbreak, such as the name of a school, community center or restaurant. [More] [Letter] [Additional Coverage]

Other FOI and First Amendment News
            Regional / National

            Presidential Campaign
   Mugshots, Privacy
            Recording Police



            CDCCDC Data Release Proposal
            Governor Texting, FOI Law


            Carter Case, First Amendment
            Ride Sharing, Public Records


            New Hampshire

            Rhode Island

            Revenge Porn Legislation