To Rant, Vent and Converse: Protecting Low Level Digital Speech
Cambridge Law Journal, Vol. 71, No. 2, 2012
24 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 2, 2012
Expression on the internet is now regulated by a wide range of UK laws, including public order laws, media laws and laws that were drafted to target poison pen letters and nuisance phone calls. While these laws were initially designed to regulate different spheres of activity, they now converge and can regulate the same types of digital expression. Digital speakers are now exposed to various legal controls. Recent cases have shown that conversations on social networks and in other forums can be the subject of criminal prosecution and libel actions. While the European free speech jurisprudence has traditionally focused on protecting speech on matters in the public interest, it is argued that these principles do not give sufficient protection to casual conversations and ‘everyday’ expression. This article considers alternative free speech arguments and looks at the case for more proportionate controls on digital expression.
Keywords: Freedom of speech, digital communications, Article 10, communications act 2003
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