The Hidden Subtitle of the NDAA That Will Ban Basic Facts About Judges Online
The First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring truthful information, especially when it’s about government officials. Yet tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s 4,400-plus pages is a subtitle which does just that. Title LIX, Subtitle D of the NDAA, or the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act (JSPA), bans a broad range of basic facts about federal judges from being posted on the internet. It then deputizes social media companies to ensure those facts remain offline.
The JSPA was named after U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’s 20-year-old son who was tragically killed at the judge’s New Jersey home. In an effort to prevent similar tragedies in the future, the JSPA bans all Americans from posting biographical information about judges and their families online. But far from just highly sensitive information, like Social Security numbers and home addresses, the JSPA prohibits publishing judges’ birth dates, their relatives’ employers, and any current or future schools attended by their family members. While its aim to protect federal judges from harm is laudable, the breadth of the JSPA’s coverage will have absurd consequences. Once the law takes effect, tweeting “Happy 68th Birthday!” to Chief Justice Roberts will be illegal, potentially subjecting users to a significant financial penalty.
The JSPA’s fact ban works in two main ways. First, judges and their immediate family members can send users or online services requests to take down posts of prohibited information. This information does not need to be about the judge, or even foreseeably related to the judge’s security, to be the subject of a takedown request. Under the JSPA, a judge’s mother may send a takedown request to censor the birthdate of her brother (the judge’s uncle), and a judge’s daughter may censor information about the law school her son goes to (the judge’s grandson). After receiving a takedown request, the user or online service has 72 hours to remove the banned content.
Second, online services have an implied duty to monitor for content similar to the content they have previously been asked to remove on any website or subsidiary website they own. Any online service which does not fully comply with the JSPA’s requirements may be sued for injunctive relief and money damages.
No judge should have to fear for their lives as they defend the rule of law. Yet the JSPA will give the federal judiciary and their extended families power to infringe those civil liberties themsel
Article from Reason.com