Skip to main content

The online world offers the promise of speech with minimal barriers and without borders. New technologies and widespread internet access have radically enhanced our ability to express ourselves; criticize those in power; gather and report the news; and make, adapt, and share creative works. Vulnerable communities have also found space to safely meet,  grow, and make themselves heard without being drowned out by the powerful. The ability to freely exchange ideas also benefits innovators, who can use all of their capabilities to build even better tools for their communities and the world.

In the U.S., the First Amendment grants individuals the right to speak without government interference. And globally, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) protects the right to speak both online and offline. Everyone should be able to take advantage of this promise. And no government should have the power to decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.

Government threats to online speakers are significant. Laws and policies have enabled censorship regimes, controlled access to information, increased government surveillance, and minimized user security and safety.

At the same time, online speakers’ reliance on private companies that facilitate their speech has grown considerably. Online services’ content moderation decisions have far-reaching impacts on speakers around the world. This includes social media platforms and online sites selectively enforcing their Terms of Service, Community Guidelines, and similar rules to censor dissenting voices and contentious ideas. That’s why these services must ground their moderation decisions in human rights and due process principles.

As the law and technology develops alongside our ever-evolving world, it’s important that these neither create nor reinforce obstacles to people’s ability to speak, organize, and advocate for change. Both the law and technology must enhance people’s ability to speak. That’s why EFF fights to protect free speech - because everyone has the right to share ideas and experiences safely, especially when we disagree.

Free Speech Highlights

Free Speech is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

From Mubarak knocking a country offline by pressuring local ISPs to PayPal caving to political pressure to cut off funding to WikiLeaks, this year has brought us sobering examples of how online speech can be endangered. And it’s not only political speech that is threatened – in the United...

one figure holding up a bullhorn for another figure to speak through

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

47 U.S.C. § 230, a Provision of the Communication Decency ActTucked inside the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 is one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet: Section 230.This comes somewhat as a surprise, since the original purpose of the...

Free Speech Updates

Free Speech banner, an colorful graphic representation of a megaphone

This Song Belongs to You and Me

EFF has just announced that the JibJab suit has been settled. The resolution was a complete victory for JibJab, which will be entitled to continue distributing the "This Land" animation without further interference from Ludlow.
Two things made this outcome possible. First, JibJab's fantastic animation is...

Hypocrite, Thy Name Is Real

In the latest development in the ongoing spat between RealNetworks and Apple over the iPod, RealNetworks has launched its Freedom of Music Choice campaign. "Consumers are getting a raw deal with the status quo in digital music, which limits healthy, open competition that drives down prices and encourages...

Free Speech banner, an colorful graphic representation of a megaphone

Spam or Ham? Help the FTC Decide

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it's seeking comment on how to define spam. Currently, the CAN-SPAM Act (PDF) describes a "commercial electronic mail message" as one whose "primary purpose...is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service."
The FTC wants people to...

JibJab Files Suit

As has been widely reported, EFF has filed suit on behalf of JibJab to defend the "This Land" animated short. As we reported last week, music publisher Ludlow Music Inc., owner of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," had threatened copyright litigation against JibJab. In...

Pages

Back to top

JavaScript license information