Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Horder on Online Free Speech and the Suppression of False Political Claims

Jeremy Horder, London School of Economics, Department of Law, is publishing Online Free Speech and the Suppression of False Political Claims in the 2021 volume of the ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law. Here is the abstract.

This article will consider the approach taken in different jurisdictions to the use of restrictions, including criminal law prohibitions, to prevent, deter or suppress the making of false political claims online, especially (but not solely) during election periods. The article will explain, first, how a commitment to freedom of expression ought to make state measures to deter the dissemination online of what the author calls false political “viewpoint” information seem problematic. Secondly, the article will show how a number of jurisdictions, including some liberal democracies, have wrongly been drawn into an authoritarian response to the spread of such false information: a response that tries to set the terms on which people come to give and form political viewpoints. Coercion may legitimately be employed (i) to secure due process at the polls, when this is threatened by the dissemination of what the author calls false “participation” information, and to a limited extent (ii) to support transparency about authorship; but coercion should not be used to deter the propagation of political viewpoint content, simply on the grounds of its falsity.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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