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Freedom of Speech$
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Eric Barendt

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225811

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199225811.001.0001

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Freedom of Speech and the Internet

Freedom of Speech and the Internet

(p.451) XIII Freedom of Speech and the Internet
Freedom of Speech


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the general treatment of the Internet under constitutional free speech principles, in particular whether it should, like the broadcasting media, be subject to a measure of special legal regulation. Another question is whether the Internet should be regarded as a public forum, with the result that limits on access to it in public libraries and universities would be incompatible with freedom of speech, in the absence of compelling reasons for denying access. There are now Supreme Court and other United States decisions on these points, which are considered in this chapter. The regulation of indecent material and child pornography and the application of obscenity laws to pornography are discussed, along with aspects of defamation or libel law, in particular the different treatment of Internet service providers under English and US law. Some of the legal questions posed by the global character of Internet speech are also considered.

Keywords:   freedom of speech, Internet, defamation, child pornography, regulation, global communications, obscenity laws, court decisions, libel, United States

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