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The First Amendment And The Internet

from the interesting dept

A very interesting look at how the legal doctrine behind the free speech part of the First Amendment doesn’t really apply to the internet. The conclusions the writer comes to isn’t that we should regulate speech on the internet – but at the very least that we should be aware of what’s happening. The article definitely makes some interesting points. The idea of free speech is that in the “marketplace of ideas” truth is likely to boil to the top – and readers of one opinion will also get to see the counter opinion. However, she says, that online rumors too often get taken as fact, and people tend to reinforce their old opinion – rather that search out counterpoints. I’m not sure I completely agree with this. While, I can see it happening in some cases, I think (for myself, and many others I know) I’ve been exposed to many many more viewpoints than I would see otherwise.

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Comments on “The First Amendment And The Internet”

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Dale Gardner says:

The Net is not that different...

It’s tempting to jump into a detailed analysis of this one, but I’ll try and resist. Basically, I don’t think the net is that different from any other media – if you’re considering the notion of a marketplace of ideas, as the author does, I think you have to look at the behavior of the society as a whole, and rely less on the behavior of individuals. How many people actively seek out opinions that conflict with their own? Not many. While the World might be a better place if it happened, the fact is most people are comfortable with the media that reflects their own views – be it radio, television, newspapers, movies, the Internet, or whatever. Should we resist efforts to limit speech on the net? Yes, but not because the net is different from any other media.

There is a thoughtful rebuttal of the column on the FindLaw website – go to the column, then follow the link for feedback. Much more detail. The poster also raises what I think are more interesting questions – such as how constraints surrounding posting of information about DeCSS square with free speec protections. For all of me, you could extend that to the DCMA and related activities.

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