Freedom Of Speech On The Internet
Freedom of Speech is protected by the First Amendment of Constitution. The full protection of Freedom of Speech was extended to Internet in a rare decision taken by the U.S. Supreme Court in the famous case of Reno v. ACLU. This historic decision eliminated certain significant clauses of the 1996 Communications Decency Law that proscribed the ostensible "indecent" online communication.
The decision was later extended to magazines, films, books, and all kinds of materials published on the Internet. Some limitations on Freedom of Speech on the Internet were imposed by the Congress under the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). However, these limitations were soon ruled out and declared as ‘unconstitutional’ by the Supreme Court in the 2002 case of American Civil Liberties Union v. Ashcroft.
Freedom of speech follows a graduated system, wherein different kinds of regulations are subject to varied levels of inspection by the courts, based on the kind of speech involved and the basic clauses of the First Amendment. In the present scenario of globalization and digitization, all available information is free and the freedom of speech is fostered by the Internet on a worldwide scale. The Internet has provided people with the largest common platform, where they can say anything and be heard by anyone from around the world. Thus, the type of speech allowed on the Internet cannot be governed or regulated by any standard.
Freedom of Speech on Internet was defined as a local edict by John Barlow. According to John Gilmore, the code of freedom of speech has become well integrated in the robust design of the Internet. It is practically impossible to block access to information completely, except in a few circumstances. Thus, the Internet not only offers worldwide admittance to free speech, but also fosters the fundamental concept underlying the freedom of speech.
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