Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction. The term “freedom of expression” is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.
Freedom of speech and expression, therefore, may not be recognized as being absolute, and common limitations to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, incitement, fighting words, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, food labeling, non-disclosure agreements, the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, public security, and perjury. Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” The idea of the “offense principle” is also used in the justification of speech limitations, describing the restriction on forms of expression deemed offensive to society, considering factors such as extent, duration, motives of the speaker, and ease with which it could be avoided. With the evolution of the digital age, application of the freedom of speech becomes more controversial as new means of communication and restrictions arise, for example the Golden Shield Project, an initiative by Chinese government’s Ministry of Public Security that filters potentially unfavorable data from foreign countries.
The right to freedom of expression has been interpreted to include the right to take and publish photographs of strangers in public areas without their permission or knowledge.
adding page this day:
Steven Johnson (@stevenbjohnson) tweeted at 9:01 AM on Wed, Jan 24, 2018:
I mentioned this last week, but just to reiterate: this new Wired special issue on free speech and its digital-age discontents is truly a magazine at the top of its game. Honored to be a part of it. Definitely worth reading the whole thing. https://t.co/9YGCtWZIEg
notes from earlier.. from first one via Zeynep
zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) tweeted at 6:08 AM – 16 Jan 2018 :
My new essay for @Wired on how “It’s the Golden Age of Free Speech”—except our ideals and battles about “free speech” are now about *attention*, not speech. Besides, can you even believe your lying eyes? It may all be fake. https://t.co/kPY8tII6VJhttps://t.co/IvJKpNJrhJ(http://twitter.com/zeynep/status/953252676145500161?s=17)
zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) tweeted at 6:10 AM – 16 Jan 2018 :
I’m finding much of the recent discussion of free speech to be missing that key point, and not focusing on the true bottleneck, the crucial resource that Facebook and Google control: Attention. Our concepts and worries are outdated. (http://twitter.com/zeynep/status/953253096880295936?s=17)
zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) tweeted at 6:16 AM – 16 Jan 2018 :
And that is my “pre-take” on all the Facebook changes—I wrote the essay last Fall. Consequences of last change are too complex to predict, and I don’t think they know either. The crucial point is that they can just go *ta-da* and restructure attention for ~two billion people. (http://twitter.com/zeynep/status/953254747540279296?s=17)
In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible. This should be the golden age of free speech.
HERE’S HOW THIS golden age of speech actually works: In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralized broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention. And right now, the flow of the world’s attention is structured, to a vast and overwhelming degree, by just a few digital platforms: Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.
Today’s phantom public sphere has been fragmented and submerged into billions of individual capillaries. Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in—but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back. Behind everyone’s backs.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but all of this invalidates much of what we think about free speech—conceptually, legally, and ethically.
The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. . t.. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all.
These tactics usually don’t break any laws or set off any First Amendment alarm bells. But they all serve the same purpose that the old forms of censorship did: They are the best available tools to stop ideas from spreading and gaining purchase. They can also make the big platforms a terrible place to interact with other people..t
This idea that more speech—more participation, more connection—constitutes the highest, most unalloyed good is a common refrain in the tech industry. But a historian would recognize this belief as a fallacy on its face. Connectivity is not a pony. Facebook doesn’t just connect democracy-loving Egyptian dissidents and fans of the videogame Civilization; it brings together white supremacists, who can now assemble far more effectively. It helps connect the efforts of radical Buddhist monks in Myanmar, who now have much more potent tools for spreading incitement to ethnic cleansing—fueling the fastest- growing refugee crisis in the world.
The freedom of speech is an important democratic value, but it’s not the only one.
Today’s engagement algorithms, by contrast, espouse no ideals about a healthy public sphere.
we’ve already seen enough to recognize that the core business model underlying the Big Tech platforms—harvesting attention with a massive surveillance infrastructure to allow for targeted, mostly automated advertising at very large scale—is far too compatible with authoritarianism, propaganda, misinformation, and polarization.
But we don’t have to be resigned to the status quo. . t
in fairness to Facebook and Google and Twitter, while there’s a lot they could do better, the public outcry demanding that they fix all these problems is fundamentally mistaken.
We can decide how we want to handle digital surveillance, attention-channeling, harassment, data collection, and algorithmic decision making. We just need to start the discussion. Now...t
perhaps.. rather than discussing all that (perhaps that’s part of the status quo) .. we just start living another way.. via 2 convos
Vinay Gupta (@leashless) tweeted at 0:53 PM on Wed, Mar 21, 2018:
“The blockchain the posterchild for individual, self-organised free speech creating higher-level political structures… if somebody is clever enough to figure out how to use free speech to create currency, it’s very hard to imagine you would stop that. https://t.co/MuU5DKZLxT
depends how you define currency.. there is a way to use free speech as our flow/circulation
I’m going to talk about individual rights. The blockchain is a system which, at least in theory, is constituted by individual actors from their right to free speech. *The blockchain records a **series of utterances, these are statements, and those statements carry with them a digital signature, the statement with a digital signature is taken as being ***an indicator of somebody’s free action, their free will, ..t .. and as a result it’s very hard to argue that the blockchain should be illegal.
A series of statements are made by individuals, those statements are *interpreted by other individuals to authorise the transfer of value, and the value only exists because **individuals have chosen to recognise it as having value.
It’s very hard to imagine a regime in which you can stop something like that, without fundamentally limiting speech. “You can have all the speech you like, but if your speech is interpreted by other people as being a transfer of value, I’m very sorry, you’re going to have to pay taxes on that.”
So the machinery which is used to actually carry out your rights changes over time. .. we’re going to be in a position where there is a constant struggle over the interpretation and reinterpretation of basic human rights, as technology either strips those rights or reinforces those rights. And because electronic communications are a fantastic mechanism for speech, speech rights are the most heavily affected initial rights in these kinds of systems.
let’s focus on that (which also begs that people are detoxed)