Clearly, there are limits to freedom of speech. Pretty much everyone would agree that posting somebody’s address alongside an offer of financial reward if they are beaten up or killed should be illegal. Most would also agree that inciting violence more generally against ethnic or religious groups is completely unacceptable. Likewise, our economies would simply struggle to function if publishing a customer’s credit card details online was protected under freedom of speech.
So, where should we draw the line? New technology brings this question into sharp relief, whether it’s lawyers tackling the issue of “revenge porn” on video sharing sites, or counter-terrorism officials responding to extremist propaganda by the so-called Islamic State on social media. How do we decide what content is unacceptable in a democratic and transparent manner, who decides whether it should be removed or not (and how are they held to account), and how is unacceptable content actually taken down without infringing people’s freedom of expression?
On Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 13:30 CET, Debating Europe held a live debate in the European Parliament on freedom of speech, hate speech, and moderating illegal content online. We put questions and comments sent in from our readers to a panel of experts representing all sides of the debate.
Taking part on the panel were:
- Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) with the European People’s Party;
- Benjamin Ledwon, Head of Brussels Office, Bitkom;
- Julia Mozer, Communication Officer & Hate Speech Advisor, CEJI;
- Lorcán Price, Legal Counsel, ADF International;
You can watch the video of the debate at the top of this page (if, for some reason, the video doesn’t load then please follow this link).
Who should decide what is acceptable online? Where do we draw the line in terms of illegal content? How do we determine what is “hate speech” and what is just critical comment? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: CC0 / Pexels – Soumil Kumar
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