Monthly Archives: August 2009

Twitter Hack Case Could Test Shield for Blogs

FREE PRESS — Exploiting a computer network's imperfect security, a hacker unlawfully gains access to private company messages and other documents and copies and forwards them to an Internet information site, where some are posted.  The company seeks to find out who the hacker was.  If the Internet site is found to be a journalistic publisher under California law, it may be able to ignore the company's subpoena, which would be unenforceable, notes attorney Jeffrey D. Neuburger in MediaShift.

Tax Fraud Informant Gets Harsh Prison Term

WHISTEBLOWERS — " If he had kept his mouth shut and his head low, Bradley Birkenfeld would be a free man today. He didn’t, so now the former UBS Swiss banker wears an electronic bracelet on his ankle and, beginning in January, will spend three years and four months in a federal penitentiary," notes columnist Ann Woolner for Bloomberg News.

Governor Gets Shield for UC Whistleblowers

WHISTLEBLOWERS — On a 22-14 vote, the California State Senate today approved legislation to provide University of California employees who report waste, fraud and abuse with the same legal protections available to other state employees, reports the bill's author, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo).

Swiss Bank Informer Looking at Bars, Not Bounty

WHISTLEBLOWERS — Bradley C. Birkenfeld, the former UBS banker who helped break the secrecy of the Swiss bank—a practice that not only sustained uncounted spy novels, but was widely considered inviolable—is facing years in prison after blowing the whistle on tax cheating via offshore accounts. As reported by David S. Hilzenrath for the Washington Post,

Ex-Sunshine Lawyer Gets Public Record Backup

PUBLIC RECORDS — A former staff lawyer for the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, beset by personal problems and clashing with police for the third time this year, had his side of an incident that led him to be tased by two officers backed up by . . . a publicly released police surveillance video.

Stock Fraud Defendant Wants Hearing Closed

OPEN COURTS — Henry Samueli, the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., is fighting to keep the public out of a pending hearing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in which he is seeking to reinstate a plea deal that he reached last year with prosecutors, reports Amanda Bronstad for the National Law Journal.

Official: "Sometimes democracy can go too far"

FREE PETITION — "Berkeley may take great pride as a champion of free speech and civil rights," writes Matthai Kuruvila for the San Francisco Chronicle, "but an unusual campaign has been under way—led by most of the city's top elected officials—to stop residents from signing a citizen's petition."

Editorial: A Police Shakeup That Needs Explaining

PUBLIC INFORMATION – The Herald in Monterey says in an editorial, "Before it's over, don't be surprised if the apparent suspension of Seaside's police chief, a deputy police chief and two police officers helps make the case for loosening California's extreme restrictions on the public release of information about investigations into alleged law enforcement misconduct."

Judge: Website Has Access Rights as News Medium

FREE PRESS — A federal judge in New York  has ruled that the government is not entitled to withhold information from Internet news sites related to sealed indictments.  "Her ruling is significant for all online media outlets whether it be the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Perez Hilton or TMZ.com," comments Jagajeet Chiba for Gambling911.com.

Universities: Sunshine on Foundations Too Costly

OPEN GOVERNMENT — Free speech groups are trying to force the state’s public universities to disclose financial relationships worth more than $6.25 billion. At issue are scores of nonprofit foundations linked to the schools, each serving a campus in the UC and CSU systems, which insist that disclosing the finances would cost millions of dollars in staff time, reports Maryam Ali for Capitol Weekly.