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EFFecting Change 7-18 Site

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...

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Section 230

47 U.S.C. § 230The Internet allows people everywhere to connect, share ideas, and advocate for change without needing immense resources or technical expertise. Our unprecedented ability to communicate online—on blogs, social media platforms, and educational and cultural platforms like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive—is not an accident. Congress recognized that...

Free Speech Updates

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Legal Clarity for Bloggers

There are two laudable legislative efforts in the works that could help clarify that online journalists are entitled to the same rights and privileges as traditional print journalists.
The first is the national OPEN Government Act (S.394), introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and co-sponsor Senator Pat Leahy...

Apple Bites Students; the Woz Bites Back

People in the Apple community are upset about the company's legal action against three Canadian students who allegedly posted a developer build of MacOS 10.4 via BitTorrent. Now the publisher of DrunkenBlog has posted responses from 25 members of the Mac community -- including one from none other...

EFF Asks Court to Protect Online Journalists

Seeks to Stop Apple From Undermining Reporter's Privilege Santa Clara County, CA - Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a California Superior Court for a protective order that would prevent Apple Computer from forcing three online journalists to identify their confidential sources and hand over unpublished materials. EFF...

Bloggers As Journalists: Why We Fight Apple's Subpoenas

James Madison understood that "a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy or perhaps both." Legal protections for media sources and unpublished information are critical means for journalists of all stripes to acquire information and communicate it...

Why Should Hollywood Have All the Anti-Consumer Fun?

No reason. As the Washington Post reports, you can use pocket-lining tricks like region-coding for all kinds of "content" -- including printer cartridges:H-P has quietly begun implementing "region coding" for its highly lucrative print cartridges for some of its newest printers sold in Europe. Try putting a printer cartridge...

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