Friday, October 17, 2008

Freedom of Speech on the Internet

The debate about freedom of speech on the internet continues. This is a contribution on The Huffington Post from Leslie Harris, the President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology in the US.

Sometimes I just want to grab our government leaders by their collective collar and yell: "What part of 'free' in 'free speech' don't you understand?!" when it comes to the issue of digital communication being afforded the same First Amendment protection as traditional print media. The next President should not shy away from this issue or follow the easy path toward demagogy. He should set out a public vision that embraces and celebrates the Reno decision as the Internet's very own Bill of Rights and promote strategies that empower Internet users to make their own choices for their families about content controls. The next president should:

1) Affirm that the Internet is subject to the highest level of constitutional protection for free speech, and send a clear message that he will veto any legislation that aims to undermine that standard.

2) Promote the empowerment of families to control what kids do online through support for Internet literacy programs and for continued innovation in the development of technological tools for voluntary use by parents (filters, monitoring software, etc.).

3) Defend technological innovation by ensuring that online service and application providers retain their immunity from responsibility for content posted by others.

4) Protect political speech by ensuring that bloggers and other individual speakers aren't burdened by campaign finance regulations intended for much larger entities.

5) Strongly enforce our laws against child pornography.

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