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Week 6: Content Regulation

This class will focus on laws and current issues relating to the regulation of content on the Internet.

Should freedom of speech on the Internet prevail over protection of the public interest? Does the public need to be protected? What is the difference between censorship and regulation?

What are the relevant public interests? Who decides?

Should there by government regulation, or reliance on technology (such as NetNanny), or parental responsibility (e.g., see Google's Family Safety Centre)?



Lars said...

Also in Germany the law on Internet blocking is highly controversial. Just recently there has been a complaint to the Constitutional Court ( The interesting part about the act in question is that it is in force since 2010 but the Home Office by order to the police prohibited any usage of this law.

Angus said...

The Fahrenheit 451.2 article refers to the removal of content from search engines as a method of censorship.

In 2010 google removed a specific article from the Encyclopaedia Dramatica web site from search results after legal action.

Is this 'search engine censorship' sufficient to protect the general public from indecent content?

Jill said...

As offensive as I find Westboro's actions on a personal level, the judicial decision does make sense in light of the strong protection of First Amendment rights in the US, as well as in consideration of the other factors involved (their 'public' rather than 'personal' denouncements, distance from the funeral etc). However, it would be interesting, as John pointed out in class, to see what approach would be taken by the judiciary here in similar circumstances. It is arguable that this is similar to the 'hate speech' found on the internet, which should not be tolerated in any jurisdiction.

Jenny said...

There was a case in Germany a few years back, in which an Australian citizen (Frederick Toben) was convicted for denying the Holocaust on an Australian based webpage. The Federal Court reversed a lower court ruling and held that it was enough for a conviction that the page was accessible in Germany, even though the text was not written in Germany or on a German page. They explicitly limited this rule to the laws banning the Nazi party and any glorification of it. Interesting is that the German Courts held the author of the text responsible, whereas a French Court a few month before in a similar case had seen the responsibility with the internet-provider.

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