Victory for privacy and democracy
Some of you will know that Monsanto tried to sue the citizen action group Avaaz to force it to hand over information it held on the company, including personal data on members of the public who had signed Avaaz petitions against Monsanto's weedkiller glyphosate.
Well, there's great news. Avaaz won in court against Monsanto. Avaaz just wrote to people on its email list:
"Our hearing just ended, and the judge absolutely DESTROYED Monsanto's subpoena on Avaaz!!!!
"He said the subpoena would have a 'tremendous chilling effect', saying "no member would want to have their privacy and their activity known" and actually gave Monsanto a lecture on democracy and free speech!!
"Avaaz members in the courtroom spontaneously broke into applause and huge smiles at his words. Here's a quick video filmed minutes ago from our Campaign Director Iain Keith on the steps of the courthouse: https://www.facebook.com/Avaaz/videos/458127264595784/
"This subpoena was terrifying and would have had Avaaz spend months and hundreds of thousands of pounds digging up and handing over to Monsanto everything anyone on our team ever said or wrote about them for YEARS. Including even the email addresses and identities of our members who had sent messages to officials about Monsanto!
"Even worse, lawyers told us that courts in New York tend to AUTOMATICALLY GRANT requests like this! Because usually, more info means more justice.
"But then our community got involved. Over 200,000 of us donated, and we hired the best lawyer in the business -- Andrew Celli, who has taken on cases like this before and won. He and his team worked with the Avaaz team to write a ridiculously great takedown of the Monsanto subpoena. It's long and legalistic, but if you speak that language, it's a thing of beauty -- you can read it here (https://avaazimages.avaaz.org/Avaaz%20Foundation%20VS%20Monsanto.pdf).
"Monsanto flew in a top lawyer, a man who's defended everything from asbestos to lead and arsenic. But between our briefs, and the powerful oral arguments, the judge was convinced, and took the incredibly RARE step of throwing out the ENTIRE subpoena!!! Normally they just narrow the scope of the subpoena to something more reasonable, but the judge couldn't find anything reasonable in Monsanto's claims about Avaaz!
"It's a moment to celebrate, but it may not be over.
"Monsanto can still appeal, or come at us another way. But we've got an amazing win and precedent set, and an amazing legal team, and as ever, an amazing movement that will stand by, stand up, and speak truth to power when it threatens.
"The purpose of these big legal attacks is to scare us. I have tears right now as I think about how, with the Avaaz community at our back, I really don't have to fear stuff like this. Because even the most powerful actors in this world, are not more powerful than the truth, than the power of good people coming together to work for everything we love, than the power of all of us in this incredible movement."