Regulating Speech Online

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February 26

The Internet has the potential to revolutionize public discourse. It is a profoundly democratizing force. Instead of large media companies and corporate advertisers controlling the channels of speech, anyone with an Internet connection can, in the words of the Supreme Court, “become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox.” (Reno v. ACLU). Internet speakers can reach vast audiences of readers, viewers, researchers, and buyers that stretch across real space borders, or they can concentrate on niche audiences that share a common interest or geographical location. What's more, speech on the Internet has truly become a conversation, with different voices and viewpoints mingling together to create a single "work."

With this great potential, however, comes new questions. What happens when anyone can publish to a global audience with virtually no oversight? How can a society protect its children from porn and its inboxes from spam? Does defamation law apply to online publishers in the same way it applied to newspapers and other traditional print publications? Is online anonymity part of a noble tradition in political discourse stretching back to the founding fathers or the electronic equivalent of graffiti on the bathroom wall? In this class, we will look at how law and social norms are struggling to adapt to this new electronic terrain.


  • Case Study: The SPEECH Act

Optional Readings

Class Discussion

TAG: Student ID#10789842

The discussion on Why, How, and Who was insightful. It made me to examine deeper into the concept of online behavioral intent on both a micro and macro level. This specific space (Online) when examined, allows you to weigh both sides of the coin. In one argument censorship or content, which controls this behavior shapes our participation in the internet. On the other side of the coin freedom of speech. Politically more and more countries have taken the position to restrict and control the internet through designed "Nation Boundaries" as mentioned in class.

In the readings concerning the laws of defamation and the restriction of content on the internet, it appears to be flawed. Depending on your country of jurisdiction the interpretation of the laws of defamation or control are interpreted differently. In a global information world which we are all a part of, restrictions are becoming tighter and tighter. An example is France restricted Yahoo to having Nazi memorabilia online. Another way to review this precedent set by the French government, is what if a corporation made tremendous acquisitions? If fundamental islamic fanatic group was to acquire Google, Bing, or both, it could become a paradigm shift in controlling the internet from an acquisition stand point. The article "Funding Evil" extends this point by exam terrorist groups that may try to use these resources to distribute their messages of hate.

The readings and the discussion in the class this week was very interesting and I appreciate it.

Have a nice week. Interestingcomments 17:06, 22 February 2013 (EST)

Reading the Wikipedia article on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act prompted me to think about cyber-security and where liability should fall if private information was hacked and released and later deemed as defamatory. Earlier in the course I posted a Gizmodo article on Apple’s iMessage server being hacked and I am beginning to wonder if, as online hubs of information grow to become more institutional, individuals who are targets of cyber attacks will start blaming the companies that have their private information stored on their servers. I foresee that as the internet and cloud take on greater roles in the institutionalization of business and everyday life, that issues like these will start arising. As to the Ars Technica interview, I think that scaling back protection for service providers in order to protect children presents a weak claim. I think doing so would severely alter the costs of operating a site like Myspace or Facebook. Also, it is my personal belief that a parent should be responsible for teaching their children how to correctly use the web and exercise safe practices online. I feel that extending liability and limiting free speech poses a great danger at a minor benefit of altering section 230 for a very specific purpose. AaronEttl 15:37, 23 February 2013 (EST)

I was very interested to read about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. I very much support the idea that the internet service provider should not be held liable for individual's misuse of their publishing service, where the company itself does not exersize creative control over the content (i.e. deleting a post is not a basis for liability). Although I am not an expert, this regime would seem to be different from Canada where we have witnessed very prominent internet communities being brought to their knees by posts made by one or two offenders. My proposed research article, on, will be very much concerned with ideas contained in the s. 230 of the CDA and I looking forward to comparing your legal regime with Canada's. Joshywonder 21:35, 25 February 2013 (EST)