When America’s Founding Fathers drafted the First Amendment, no one could have imagined there would eventually be a technology — the Internet — that would allow Americans to speak to people around the globe within seconds. Now, more than 200 years later, some wonder if the existence of this modern technology complicates one of America’s basic rights: the freedom of speech.
“The Internet doesn’t change the dynamic in any fundamental way. What it does is it presses hard on some existing problems,” said John Palfrey, faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard UniversityOpenNet Initiative. and a principal investigator with
“If I say something that’s harmful about you online, it can be read instantaneously by billions of people around the world at basically no cost. The number of people who can hear [that] speech [can] be vastly greater than it could have been before, and many more people are holding the megaphone that could reach that large group of people.”
Free-speech advocates argue that despite this scope and speed, it’s unnecessary to create laws that restrict speech online. Others disagree. On the Internet, there’s no segregation of material, no cellophane wrapper, nothing to protect children from seeing graphic pornography unless you’re proactive.
Welcome to the Village Screen
Before the rise of technology, communities came together at the village green, but now with the Internet, people from around the globe meet on the “village screen,” and that presents some unique challenges, according to Gene Policinski, vice…
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