Freedom of Speech and Internet

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Freedom of Speech and Internet Background and context The right to freedom of speech expression and to hold opinions without interference is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by most of the constitutions of the world including India and America. Presence of free, uncensored and unhindered Internet and press are essential to ensure freedom of speech and expression. “Unlike any other medium the Internet facilitated the ability of individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds instantaneously and inexpensively across national borders.

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By vastly expanding the capacity of individuals to enjoy their right to freedom of opinion and expression, which is an ‘enabler’ of other human rights, the Internet boosts economic, social and political development, and contributes to the progress of humankind as a whole . ”[1] The right to access theInternet might appear to be less significant in comparison to other basic human rights, such as the right to life and equality before the law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also includes the right to education and the right to work, which largely depend on Internet access. Estonia, Greece, France and Finland have recognizedInternetaccess as a basic human right in accordance with the United Nations recommendation. It is in the above context and background; my paper aims to draw out the most important questions with regard to Internet regulation and its impact on the freedom of speech. Do governments have any right to control and regulate the availability and the content of internet ? What we can do to address the downside of the Internet? Present Global Status The Internet has become so much a part of our lives that it is very difficult to imagine a life without it. We use internet for communication, learning, trade and commerce, accessing news, entertainment, gaming, socializing and for many other information purposes. It is a cheap global platform for exchanging views , opinions and dissemination of information in real time . Internet‘s main power comes from the fact that it can be used for all kind of media – text, audio and video. Unrestricted internet is breaking the barriers among people and making people closer to each other. “The Internet has changed the way we communicate, work and play, It has affected the way we live and earn , participate and protest .”[2] The Internet’s main services include: the world wide web , e-mail , discussion groups , newsgroups and mailing lists , social website like Facebook, Googleplus, Twitter, YouTube ,Skype and cheap or free direct on-line communication . Traditional media such as newspapers and radio stations have also gone ‘online’, and made Internet more influential. Each of these services can be used in different ways to distribute and access legal as well as illegal and harmful material giving rise to different legal and policing implications.

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