Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Lilian Edwards, University of Sheffield Law School, has published "Pornography, Censorship and the Internet," in Law and the Internet (L. Edwards & C. Waelde eds.; Hart Publishing, 2009). Here is the abstract.
Over a decade since the Internet became an acknowledged mainstream commercial medium, it still retains its less than savoury reputation as a happy hunting ground for pornography and other types of distasteful content.
Some of the basic issues in this area which this chapter addresses, from a European and comparative perspective, are:
• Has the Internet created novel problems in this area which can not be adequately regulated by the existing legal and regulatory framework?
• Can such laws be enforced successfully in the environment of the Internet and if not, what steps should be taken?
• Should control of content be undertaken only by state law enforcement agencies and courts, or by private bodies such as ISPs and search engines?
• Should states and private institutions seek to control access to prohibited or unwelcome Internet content and by technological (“code”) means such as filtering, rather than by legal means? What are the implications for free speech of such online filtering?
The chapter observes a dangerous international trend towards non transparent and non accountable censorship online, not only in non democratic countries like China but increasingly in Europe and elsewhere. The author proposes a speech impact assessment process be put in place before new systems of top-down state-endorsed Intenet filtering are implemented.
Download the essay from SSRN here.