Free Speech Debate

Thirteen languages. Ten principles. One conversation.

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1We – all human beings – must be free and able to express ourselves, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers.»
2We defend the internet and all other forms of communication against illegitimate encroachments by both public and private powers.»
3We require and create open, diverse media so we can make well-informed decisions and participate fully in political life.»
4We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.»
5We allow no taboos in the discussion and dissemination of knowledge.»
6We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation.»
7We respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief.»
8We are all entitled to a private life but should accept such scrutiny as is in the public interest.»
9We should be able to counter slurs on our reputations without stifling legitimate debate.»
10We must be free to challenge all limits to freedom of expression and information justified on such grounds as national security, public order, morality and the protection of intellectual property.»

What’s missing?

Is there a vital area we have not addressed? A principle 11? An illuminating case study? Read other people's suggestions and add your own here. Or start the debate in your own language.


Have your say!
Help us work on the principles below
so they work for you.
1We – all human beings – must be free and able to express ourselves, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers.»
2We defend the internet and all other forms of communication against illegitimate encroachments by both public and private powers.»
3We require and create open, diverse media so we can make well-informed decisions and participate fully in political life.»
4We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.»
5We allow no taboos in the discussion and dissemination of knowledge.»
6We neither make threats of violence nor accept violent intimidation.»
7We respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief.»
8We are all entitled to a private life but should accept such scrutiny as is in the public interest.»
9We should be able to counter slurs on our reputations without stifling legitimate debate.»
10We must be free to challenge all limits to freedom of expression and information justified on such grounds as national security, public order, morality and the protection of intellectual property.»

What’s missing?

Is there a vital area we have not addressed? A principle 11? An illuminating case study? Read other people's suggestions and add your own here. Or start the debate in your own language.


Readers' comments

David Cameron

Britain’s proposed online porn filters

How do we strike the right balance between freedom of expression and child protection? Sarah Glatte explores a proposal by the British government.

David Cameron

Britain’s proposed online porn filters

How do we strike the right balance between freedom of expression and child protection? Sarah Glatte explores a proposal by the British government.

David Cameron

Britain’s proposed online porn filters

How do we strike the right balance between freedom of expression and child protection? Sarah Glatte explores a proposal by the British government.

David Cameron

Britain’s proposed online porn filters

How do we strike the right balance between freedom of expression and child protection? Sarah Glatte explores a proposal by the British government.

David Cameron

Britain’s proposed online porn filters

How do we strike the right balance between freedom of expression and child protection? Sarah Glatte explores a proposal by the British government.

Highlights

Vote for Hong Kong – on the streets and online

In 2014, the citizens of Hong Kong staged an unofficial civil referendum in protest against the Beijing authorities’ attempts to undermine its independence. As Rebecca Wong reports, the majority of the votes were cast via a voting app on mobile phones.

Imported Repression in the Middle East

A leaked document in June 2014 from Egypt’s ministry of the interior invited tenders for cyber-surveillance technology to combat blasphemy, sarcasm and ‘lack of morality’ - the technology would likely come from the west. Max Gallien reports.

A landmark Canadian hate speech case: Her Majesty the Queen v Keegstra

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a famous ruling in a case involving a high school teacher and alleged anti-Semitism. Max Harris explains.

“That Jew died for you”

The group Jews for Jesus published a video entitled “That Jew died for you“, depicting Jesus as a victim of the Holocaust. Rabbi Laura Janner –Klausner called for the offensive video to be removed from YouTube. Brian Pellot discusses the free speech implications.

Should ISPs be told to block “adult” content?

Internet Service Providers do not merely route data packets from end-to-end, but are heavily involved in monitoring their customers’ online activities. Ian Brown discusses the implications of Britain's suggested “voluntary” opting out of “adult content”, with little parliamentary and court involvement.

Profanity, purity and politics — the battle for the Russian language

A law banning swear words in the arts in Russia has come into effect in July 2014. Maryam Omidi discusses the implications.

Egypt: will the United States stand up for free speech abroad?

Not if John Kerry’s visit to Cairo and the next day’s verdict in the Al-Jazeera trial are anything to go by, writes Max Gallien.

14 year-old’s Twitter prank leads to arrest in the Netherlands

A prank by a 14 year-old Dutch girl on Twitter prompted both her arrest – and broader questions about free speech, as Max Harris discusses.

EU versus intellectual freedom?

In a bid to synchronise hate crimes, the EU is seeking unity amongst members states against the denial of historical injustices. Is this the EU versus member states’ appreciation of intellectual freedom? Luigi Cajani explains.

Egypt: the show is over

Bassem Youssef and the Egyptian struggle for freedom of speech.

How an attempt at ‘libel tourism’ rebounded on a Tanzanian tycoon

A British citizen blogged about a Tanzanian media magnate involved in throwing her and her husband off their Tanzanian farm. He sued for libel in a British court. Dominic Burbidge explains.

Canada champions tolerance abroad. But what about chez nous in Quebec?

Charles Taylor asks what motivates practices of exclusion on the basis of religious identity and expression. Dominic Burbidge reports.


Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk