What Unites Advocates of Speech Controls & Privacy Regulation?

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Berin Michael Szoka


August 11, 2009

Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 19, August 2009

Efforts to regulate both free speech and online privacy are united by an elitist vision and common regulatory mechanisms. The better alternative to political elitism enforced by regulation, they argue, is an empowerment agenda based on fostering an environment in which users have the tools and information they need to make decisions for themselves and their families.

The imposition of two elitist beliefs held by some leaders, activists, or intellectuals through coercive, top-down mandates in particular are at the root of almost all privacy and speech regulatory efforts: (1) the belief that people are too ignorant (or simply too busy) to be trusted to make wise decisions for themselves (or their children); (2) the belief that all or most people share essentially the same values or concerns and, therefore, 'community standards' should trump household (or individual) standards.

Enforcing these elitist beliefs by law threatens individual liberty and free speech as well as the future of free and open Internet. Other parallels between the two regulatory movements include internal philosophical inconsistencies on both the Left and Right, common mechanisms, political tactics, and motivations. An agenda of self-empowerment that lets users and families, instead of political elites, determine what is in their own best interest is superior to top-down regulation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: privacy regulation, speech controls, online privacy, free speech, elitism, online regulation, speech regulation, parental controls, child protection, Intellectual Schizophrenia, age verification, richard thaler, cass sunstein, lessig, green dam, clear channel, fcc

JEL Classification: A13, D11, D7, D79, D73, D81, I18, I21, K3, I2, I28, K14, K42, K23, L5, L51, L82, L86, L96, L98, O33,

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Date posted: August 18, 2009 ; Last revised: July 13, 2014

Suggested Citation

Thierer, Adam D. and Szoka, Berin Michael, What Unites Advocates of Speech Controls & Privacy Regulation? (August 11, 2009). Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 19, August 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1456975 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1456975

Contact Information

Adam D. Thierer (Contact Author)
George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )
3351 Fairfax Drive
4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201-4433
United States
Berin Michael Szoka
TechFreedom ( email )
1899 L ST NW
12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States
HOME PAGE: http://techfreedom.org
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