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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...

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

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...

Bad Apple

Macworld starts tomorrow, but Apple has been busy for weeks -- sending legal threats to a number of weblog publishers for posting information about new Apple products. EFF is representing two such publishers, AppleInsider and PowerPage, to defend bloggers' right to keep their sources secret:"Bloggers break the...

Apple Can't Strongarm Bloggers

EFF Defends Rights of Reporters Who Published Asteroid News Stories on Blogs Santa Clara, CA - Only weeks before Macworld, the nation's biggest annual trade show devoted to Apple products, Apple sent legal threats to the publishers of the Mac-centric weblogs AppleInsider and PowerPage for posting information about...

Libel Case Could Chill Speech Online

EFF, ACLU Ask California Supreme Court to Restore Free Speech Protections for Internet Users and Service Providers California - Last week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case that could undermine a federal statute...

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