Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., to Deliver the 33rd Annual Silha Lecture: “The First Amendment and #MeToo” on October 17, 2018

Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as 2017 “Person of the Year,” recognizing the #MeToo movement, an international campaign against sexual harassment and assault. Numerous individuals have accused powerful men of sexual misconduct, among them film producer Harvey Weinstein; Matt Lauer, former co-host of NBC’s “Today Show;” author and radio personality Garrison Keillor; and former U.S. Senator Al Franken.

The #MeToo movement raises many First Amendment issues, including how to protect the free speech rights of women who allege sexual harassment, as well as the use of defamation lawsuits by accusers as well as those accused of misconduct. Attorney Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., who recently filed a defamation lawsuit on behalf of actor Ashley Judd against Weinstein, will deliver the Silha Center’s 33rd Annual Lecture, “The First Amendment and #MeToo,” on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Boutrous will consider these issues in light of how social media platforms disrupt traditional First Amendment doctrine.

Boutrous is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and is also global co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Group. Boutrous has extensive experience handling high-profile litigation, media relations, and media law issues. Boutrous received his law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1987, where he was Valedictorian and editor-in-chief of the San Diego Law Review.

According to The National Law Journal, which named him one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” in 2013, Boutrous “is known for his wise, strategic advice to clients in crisis and is a media law star.” In February 2016, The New York Times credited Boutrous with “a long history of pushing the courts and the public to see the bigger picture on heated issues.” Boutrous has argued complex civil, constitutional, and criminal matters in more than 100 appeals, including before the U.S. Supreme Court, 12 federal circuit courts of appeals, 10 state supreme courts, and many other appellate and trial courts.

Boutrous has successfully persuaded courts to overturn some of the largest jury verdicts and class actions in history, including the largest defamation verdict of all time involving The Wall Street Journal. He also assisted the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in a case involving blogger Joshua Wolf, who had posted video of the 2005 G-8 protests and was subpoenaed by government officials for unaired portions of the video. In 2014, Boutrous urged the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of journalist James Risen, who challenged a U.S. Department of Justice subpoena ordering him to testify and reveal his confidential sources the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer charged under the Espionage Act, who federal prosecutors said had provided classified information to Risen for his 2006 book State of War.

Boutrous is also a frequent commentator on legal issues. His many articles include “Why I'll Defend Anyone Trump Sues for Speaking Freely,” inPolitico on Oct. 31, 2016, as well as others inThe Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Boutrous is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Women’s Media Foundation and was its 2015 Leadership Honoree. He also serves on the Business Advisory Council of ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative newsroom.

The 33rd Annual Silha Lecture begins at 7:30 pm on October 17, 2018 at Cowles Auditorium in the Hubert H. Humphrey Center on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. The Silha Lecture is free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets are required. Parking is available in the 19th and 21st Avenue ramps. Additional information about directions and parking can be found at www.umn.edu/pts.

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law is based at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Silha Center activities, including the annual Lecture, are made possible by a generous endowment from the late Otto and Helen Silha.

Submitted by Jane Kirtley

Pacific Telecommunications Council Conference Report

Who should own if not regulate the spectrum of air waves in which wi-fi internet signals are distributed? Governments? The public? Media owners? The United Nations? Others? How does one ethically decide who can own, control, and regulate the new technologies which use this spectrum? These questions were among the ethical issues raised by Professor Fernando Beltran of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in his paper “Spectrum Ecosystems and the Need for Assessing Spectrum Value in the Era of Spectrum Sharing.” at the conference known as “PTC ’18.”

Many similar questions were posed and debated at the 40th annual Pacific Telecommunications Council conference (PTC, ’18) entitled “Connecting Worlds” held from January 19-23, 2018 in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel in Honolulu. Over twenty-one hundred professional communicators, lawyers, regulators, academics, and others from over countries and territories participated. to discuss topics regarding the economics, engineering, impact, policies, laws, policies, and infrastructure of the information technology industries within the countries of the Pacific rim. Most topics (cf. issues) were discussed within the context of what was called “multiple concurrent technological and social revolutions” during the conference.

An important key-note address proffered new solutions to the question of spectrum allocation and access in Africa. New African approaches were considered to see if they might be applied in the Pacific region. The primary question raised was “How do we provide access to those groups which do not have electricity?” Juliana Rotich, the co-founder of BRCK, an innovative technology, provided an example of technologies and approaches used in Africa which are being employed to “shrink the information gap.” Rotich has been involved in the development of new internet platforms which can access the world wide web via solar energy without electricity.

Juliana also spoke of how to narrow what has been called the “digital divide” not only with new technologies but also with an attitude that the “have nots” must now become included among the “haves.” Such an attitude raises the ethical question of who should be providing communication technology, electricity, and solar power to impoverished communities if not the inhabitants themselves? Is anyone else morally obligated?

Problems facing those who wish to provide equal access to those without sufficient resources pertain not only to the lack of electricity but also to local political control, policy, language translation, (il)literacy, and attitudes toward technology implementation within traditional societies. One new technology available to schools and villages described by Rotich is called the KIO kit. Each kit provides thirty tablets, solar power access, headsets, and other accessories to small groups. The kits are important not only to provide universal access among adults but also for upgrading children’s education in many remote locations.

Over 600 million Africans continue to lack electricity so the need for new and inexpensive forms of communication is quite real. A serious ethical question is “who is responsible” to provide universal access in situations when governments are too poor, unstable, or untrusted to provide consistently reliable utilities and access for their citizens? When third parties such as distant governments, missionaries, NGOs, and “benefactors” provide new resources such as KIO kits, what strings are attached?

Many of the new technologies can also be used in remote countries, regions, and islands in the Pacific and thus were discussed as possible catalysts for change in the “Pacific digital divide.” But before they can be implemented, questions pertaining to ownership, accountability, “quid pro quo”, and possible censorship must be answered. An arresting ethics panel focused upon security, privacy, and data protection. Featured panelists were security experts Chief Technology Officer for Webair (Webair.com), Sagi Brody; Cisco Chief Privacy Officer, Michelle Dennedy; Tierpoint Chief Security Officer, Paul Mazzucco, as well as academic expert, Dr. Nir Ksherti from the University of North Carolina.

The combined expertise of these insiders provided updates on protective software as well as information about the “Dark web,” a term used to describe the “cyber-underworld” where hackers and other cyber-criminals find each other and build networks to increase cybercrime. The nature and differences of “dark” sites were explained. Alpha Bay, Hansa, Dream Market, and other underground sites have been used as “black markets” for discovering, exchanging and purchasing forbidden products and services. Without being detected users attracted to these sites have paid Bitcoins to illegally purchase I.D.s, credit cards, drugs, passports, health records, weapons, sex, and secret data which can be utilized to attack both corporate and individual “marks.”

Clearly consumers need protection from the members of such sites and networks. So tips, ethics policies, and antidotes to create a more secure, ethical, and compliant internet were discussed and debated. New workshops, practices, and resources such as the software Blockchain were introduced to provide better education and protection from malware and unethical cyber-jackers. Michelle Dennedy proved especially committed to new ethics policies and awareness within the “Internet of Things” universe.

Another panel focused upon the shifting legal and ethical landscape shaped by emerging and evolving technologies worldwide. Moderated by Sherrese Smith at Paul Hastings, the panel focused upon ethical questions surrounding cybersecurity and convergence and featured Timothy Hewitt, Legal Director, Colt Technology Services (Japan); Tara Giunta, partner, Paul Hastings (USA) ; and Jeffrey Ferry, Director, Goldman Sachs Specialty Lending Group (USA). Important questions raised during that panel included the ongoing debate about net neutrality, fair pricing for customers, and monopoly ownership.

All of these issues have become far more complicated within an international context given the multitude of policies, cultural traditions, governments, and the degree and scope of “consumer rights” in each country. Tara Giunta’s focus upon national security concerns also raised questions about the extent to which individuals and corporations may communicate on-line with parties “unfriendly” to the United States. Where does one draw the line about the U.S. government’s right to both curtail and inspect communication between U.S. citizens and those representing foreign powers?

Many other panels featured subthemes addressing ethical issues. Further information about PTC may be obtained at www.ptc.org

Submitted by Tom Cooper

Resources for Teaching Ethics

A growing list of case studies suitable for use in media and communication ethics courses can be found at the Media Ethics Initiative website. The Media Ethics Initiative is based in the Center for Media Engagement in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas Austin.