If Words Could Kill: Can the Government Regulate Any Online Speech?

Laura Pontzer


From the inception of American jurisprudence, an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution


1 has been given some of the strongest protection available.2 The most celebrated legal minds in American history have consistently advocated the necessity of an open and honest exchange of ideas as fundamental to democratic society,3 even when the ideas expressed may be unpopular or of little value.4 Nonetheless, it is equally well-established that not all speech is protected, particularly where the speech in question poses a threat to public order.5 Although First Amendment law continues to evolve, the media available to Americans wishing to express their ideas seem to be evolving exponentially faster, particularly in the forum provided by the Internet.6 Indeed, the vast expansion and availability of Internet media seem to continually outstrip the much more gradual evolution of the law, not only in the United States but worldwide.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/pjephl.2011.27


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