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Freedom of Speech Frontiers: Comparative and Global Perspectives - Fall 2020

Professor Martha Minow, evelyn douek

The interconnected and frictionless world of the internet means free expression has unprecedented speed and reach. But in the last few years, there has been a turn against unmitigated openness. Countries—and companies—are creating rules to address new pathologies of the current speech environment. These rules have consequences not only in those individual jurisdictions, but around the world; globalization and global tech platforms make it impossible to understand any single jurisdiction’s approach to regulating speech in isolation.

This course will explore the new challenges of—and to—freedom of expression in the era of the internet and platforms, and some of the many proposals for meeting those challenges. Students will participate in moot court arguments and simulated hearings on current legal and quasi-legal cases and regulations, potentially including: proposals to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the United States; recent global take-down orders from the Court of Justice of the European Union; the UK Online Harms White Paper; the international “Christchurch Call to Action” to address terrorist and violent extremist content online; proposals for social media companies to adopt international human rights norms as the basis for their rules; and a Facebook Oversight Board hearing on political advertising policy.

For more information about this course, visit the Harvard Law School Course Catalog