Just when law school is looking like a less-attractive option, something pops into the news that re-kindles my fire.

Today, it’s a post by Eugene Volokh over at The Volokh Conspiracy: Crime-Facilitating Speech and Reporting Police Movements.

The basics: a guy was tweeting police locations during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.  PA State Troopers bust in his hotel room door, and find him with a police scanner and a laptop.  He’s arrested and charged with “directing others, specifically protesters of the G-20 summit, in order to avoid apprehension after a lawful order to disperse.”

The question: is this free (and therefore protected) speech?

Very interesting discussion from Mr. Volokh:

When may speech be restricted because it provides others with information that may help them commit crimes, here by helping them evade arrest? Consider a driver who flashes his lights to warn other drivers of a speed trip, or articles, books, or Web pages that describe

  • how people can effectively resist arrest during civil disobedience,
  • how easy it is to fool supposed “ballistic fingerprinting” systems,
  • how easy it is to fool fingerprint recognition systems,
  • how one can organize one’s tax return to minimize the risk of a tax audit,
  • how one can share music files while minimizing the risk of being sued as an infringer,
  • how one can more effectively conceal one’s sexual abuse of children,
  • how one can more effectively encrypt messages or files,
  • how one can build a bomb,
  • how one can grow marijuana,

and so on. (I have citations for many of these examples in the article.) A very interesting set of questions, I think, which the Court has never resolved.

These are the sorts of issues that fascinate me – and I’d love to get a chance to tackle some of them head-on as the world (and the lives we live within it) continue to digitize at an ever-accelerating rate.


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