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Free Speech and the Internet

Free Speech and the Internet

The following websites concern themselves with the issue of the free flow of information on the Internet.

  • Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

    A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and University of Maine law school clinics.

    Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you. 

    Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses. But we've noticed that not everyone feels the same way. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to "chill" legitimate activity. 

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Everyday, as digital technology grows, we face government and corporate practices that threaten to deny our civil liberties in cyberspace. EFF is the first to see issues on the horizon and to act to protect freedom on the Internet. Among our various activities, EFF educates policymakers and the public, undertakes court cases preserving individuals' rights, engages the press regularly, and publishes a comprehensive archive of digital civil liberties information at our website.

  • The Global Internet Liberty Campaign

    The Global Internet Liberty Campaign was formed at the annual meeting of the Internet Society in Montreal. Members of the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Human Rights Watch, the Internet Society, Privacy International, the Association des Utilisateurs d'Internet, and other civil liberties and human rights organizations. 

    The Global Internet Liberty Campaign advocates...
    Prohibiting prior censorship of on-line communication.

    Requiring that laws restricting the content of on-line speech distinguish between the liability of content providers and the liability of data carriers.

    Insisting that on-line free expression not be restricted by indirect means such as excessively restrictive governmental or private controls over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the Internet.

    Including citizens in the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) development process from countries that are currently unstable economically, have insufficient infrastructure, or lack sophisticated technology.

    Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

    Ensuring that personal information generated on the GII for one purpose is not used for an unrelated purpose or disclosed without the person's informed consent and enabling individuals to review personal information on the Internet and to correct inaccurate information.

    Allowing on line users to encrypt their communications and information without restriction. 

  • The Internet Free Expression Alliance will work to:

    Ensure the continuation of the Internet as a forum for open, diverse and unimpeded expression and to maintain the vital role the Internet plays in providing an efficient and democratic means of distributing information around the world;

    Promote openness and encourage informed public debate and discussion of proposals to rate and/or filter online content;

    Identify new threats to free expression and First Amendment values on the Internet, whether legal or technological;

    Oppose any governmental effort to promote, coerce or mandate the rating or filtering of online content;

    Protect the free speech and expression rights of both the speaker and the audience in the interactive online environment;

    Ensure that Internet speakers are able to reach the broadest possible interested audience and that Internet listeners are able to access all material of interest to them;

    Closely examine technical proposals to create filtering architectures and oppose approaches that conceal the filtering criteria employed, or irreparably damage the unique character of the Internet; and

    Encourage approaches that highlight "recommended" Internet content, rather than those that restrict access to materials labelled as "harmful" or otherwise objectionable, and emphasize that any rating that exists solely to allow specific content to be blocked from view may inhibit the flow of free expression. 

  • Digital Future Coalition

    The Digital Future Coalition (DFC) is committed to striking an appropriate balance in law and public policy between protecting intellectual property and affording public access to it. The DFC is the result of a unique collaboration of many of the nation's leading non-profit educational, scholarly, library, and consumer groups, together with major commercial trade associations representing leaders in the consumer electronics, telecommunications, computer, and network access industries. Since its inception, the DFC has played a major role -- domestically and internationally -- in the ongoing debate regarding the appropriate application of intellectual property law to the emerging digital network environment.

  • Free Expression Network

    The Free Expression Network (FEN) is an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting the First Amendment right of free expression and the values it represents, and to opposing governmental efforts to suppress constitutionally protected speech. FEN members meet on a quarterly basis to share information and strategies. To facilitate full and frank exchange, the meetings are private and discussions are "off-the-record," therefore not for attribution or publication without authorization. Guests may be invited with notice to other participants. 

  • Electronic Privacy Information Center

    EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.

  • The American Civil Liberties Union

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. 

    The ACLU's mission is to fight civil liberties violations wherever and whenever they occur. Most of our clients are ordinary people who have experienced an injustice and have decided to fight back. The ACLU is also active in our national and state capitals, fighting to ensure that the Bill of Rights will always be more than a "parchment barrier" against government oppression and the tyranny of the majority. 

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