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

(Photo by hashmil under a Creative Commons Attribution-only licence)

Suggest a case study

Our case studies are real-life examples from across the world that illustrate and challenge our draft principles for global free expression. If there's a case you think we should write up for debate, let us know here.

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

Privacy: Sample our intellectual buffet. Or make your own meal.

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

Salman Rushdie: free speech, 25 years on

25 years after the fatwa and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Salman Rushdie discusses with Timothy Garton Ash whether there is now more or less freedom of expression in Europe, worrying developments in India and his critical view of Edward Snowden.

Facebook: the empire on which the sun never sets

The world is blue. Compare 2014 to 2009 and you see how Facebook has strengthened its global predominance among social networks, with just a few big hold-out countries.

A short history of disappearing privacy on Facebook

Since Facebook launched in 2005 its default privacy settings have undergone radical changes, giving more access to personal data than many are aware of.

Your comments highlighted

We regularly highlight comments from our users. In the last six months we have had quite a few insightful comments, contributing to our online debate.

Freedom to offend?

At the London School of Economics Students's Union Freshers' Fair members of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society were asked to cover up their T-shirts displaying a Jesus and Mo cartoon. This panel discussion discusses the freedom to offend and how to balance freedom of expression and civility.

US Supreme Court strikes down law creating ‘buffer zone’ around abortion clinics

In the case of McCullen v Coakley, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling about restrictions on speech around abortion clinics. Max Harris explains.

Getting Google to forget you is harder than it seems

Sebastian Huempfer describes the difficulties in having outdated information removed from Google, and explains why this might be a good thing.

Should Europe introduce a ‘right to blaspheme’?

Alain Bouldoires talks to Timothy Garton Ash about the survival of blasphemy laws in Europe, and calls for a 'right to blaspheme'.

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.


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