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

Free to challenge

If our first draft principle is the basic principle, our final one is a kind of meta-principle. It says we must be free to challenge all limits on free expression. That is a procedural claim. On being more fully informed about the reasons for a restriction, we may end up finding it right. Or we […]

Media and good government

Here is one of the most important reasons we need freedom of expression. How can we make good decisions on any issue unless we know the relevant facts and hear the arguments of others? How can we build strong, self-governing communities unless we listen to voices representing all who live in them?

Internet freedom

The internet has made many of us dramatically more free and able to express ourselves, and to receive and impart information and ideas. That freedom is neither perfect nor secure. Criminals, terrorists and paedophiles abuse it. Governments and corporations limit it - sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. We, the netizens, need to be on the lookout […]

The basic principle

This principle is first not just in order but in importance. It is the basic principle. The other nine principles say more about what this one means, how it can be realised and where the limits to free expression should lie. If you fundamentally disagree with this basic principle, please say why on our discussion […]

Highlights

Living in outrageous times

Peter Bradley argues that we should tolerate offence but be less offensive

Google evaluates more than 670,000 URLs following ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

by Timothy Garton Ash

How a Weibo post gets censored

Jason Q Ng traces the path of a censored Weibo post and tracks keywords that trigger automatic review.

Free to fantasise? Pornography and its harms.

Jo Fidgen asks what the hard evidence is for negative effects of pornography on sexual behaviour.

How Russia’s media pluralism was eroded under Vladimir Putin

Maryam Omidi describes a mapping of the Russian media landscape in 2014.

How the British press distorted reporting of… the British press

Martin Moore, of the Media Standards Trust, summarises an analysis of British press coverage of proposed new press regulation.

Google grapples with the ‘right to be forgotten’

Katie Engelhart attends the public hearing of Google’s Advisory Council, set up in response to a European Court of Justice judgement.

Religion. Privacy. National Security. What limits to free speech do they justify?

Timothy Garton Ash presents ‘sample tours’ of our content: three for the general reader, and three specifically for schools.

How can you tell what’s banned on the Internet?

Joss Wright describes the technical and ethical challenges in investigating online censorship.

Clueless in Gaza: Western media and the Arab-Israeli conflict

John Lloyd explores the history and weakness of Western media coverage, and suggests one way it could be improved.

A new initiative to defend free speech in India

Hartosh Bal explains the role of the new Freedom Trust in the context of India’s media environment, and how they hope to defend freedom of expression.

National Security: Sample our intellectual buffet. Or make your own meal.

Timothy Garton Ash introduces a sample tour of the content on our site.


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