Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Casual Speech and Free Speech Protection on the Internet

Jacob H. Rowbottom, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, has published To Rant, Vent and Converse: Protecting Low Level Digital Speech in volume 71 of the Cambridge Law Journal (2012). Here is the abstract.

Expression on the internet is now regulated by a wide range of UK laws, including public order laws, media laws and laws that were drafted to target poison pen letters and nuisance phone calls. While these laws were initially designed to regulate different spheres of activity, they now converge and can regulate the same types of digital expression. Digital speakers are now exposed to various legal controls. Recent cases have shown that conversations on social networks and in other forums can be the subject of criminal prosecution and libel actions. While the European free speech jurisprudence has traditionally focused on protecting speech on matters in the public interest, it is argued that these principles do not give sufficient protection to casual conversations and ‘everyday’ expression. This article considers alternative free speech arguments and looks at the case for more proportionate controls on digital expression.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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