Feature

Keeping speech free on the Internet

A new United Nations report shows that democracies aren’t above trying to control or censor online communications, said an editorial at the New York Times.

EditorialThe New York Times

Access to the Internet is a human right, said The New York Times. Yet it’s increasingly under attack around the world, even from democratic governments. We all know that China “jails bloggers, blocks websites, and filters the Internet to eradicate words, including ‘democracy,’ from the conversation.”

But a new United Nations report shows that democracies aren’t above trying to control or censor online communications. An Italian court convicted Google executives because a user uploaded a YouTube video that depicted cruelty toward a disabled teen. Brazil is considering a bill that would grant authorities broad access to its citizens’ online activities without a court order. France and Britain have passed “draconian laws that would ban users from the Internet for illegally downloading copyrighted material.”

And now the U.S. Senate is debating an overly broad intellectual property bill of its own. This is censorship under other guises. Internet service providers shouldn’t be held liable for content, nor should users be required to reveal their identities. We can’t let any government undermine the Internet as “a fundamental tool for enabling free speech.”

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