The internet and freedom of speech

The internet is a vast source of information but it can also be used to peddle pornography, con people out of money, invade people’s privacy with unwanted advertising, and make it easier for criminals to organise their activities.

However, it is not the case that anyone can post anything over the internet. For example:

  • the Chinese government heavily censors its citizens' use of the internet
  • libel (written defamation of someone's character) laws apply equally well to the internet
  • copyright law is being actively used to suppress websites, for example, many file sharing websites have been shut down over the years.

Arguments for control

  • To prevent illegal material being readily available.
  • To prevent young children accessing unsuitable material.
  • To ensure copyright laws are maintained.

Arguments against control

  • Unsuitable material is easily available in other ways.
  • Control would cost money and users would have to pay.
  • Control would be very difficult to enforce.
Character using illegal download website to earn money