Eric Heinze argues that the radicals and liberal grounds for free speech are not mutually exclusive.
Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in residence at Oxford University, considers the active encyclopedia’s first 15 years.
Kerem Öktem describes the dramatic deterioration of Turkey’s media landscape after the attempted coup of July 2016.
Noam Chomsky talks about Edward Snowden, laws regulating historical memory, no-platforming, internet echo chambers and the lack of diversity in the American media.
Timothy Garton Ash introduces the report of a committee on freedom of expression at the University of Chicago
Monica Richter argues that no-platforming is more about censoring unpalatable views than protecting marginalised groups.
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh argues that no-platforming is an expressive act that can expand the field of debate, rather than the denial of free speech.
John Lloyd explores the history and weakness of Western media coverage, and suggests one way it could be improved.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Robert Coalson looks at how Russian television depicts everything from the crisis in Ukraine to the war in Syria.
Anthony Lester and Zoe McCallum look at how the ghost of the English Court of the Star Chamber has been used to suppress free speech.
Samson Yuen and Kitty Ho argue that the stabbing of a former Hong Kong news editor is a symptom of a broader squeeze on the city’s freedoms.
Timothy Garton Ash introduces a translation of our ten principles into Catalan and a reflection on having Catalan as your native language.
Our draft principles, and Timothy Garton Ash’s personal introduction, have been translated into Catalan.
Pere Vilanova reflects on his personal experience of learning his ‘native’ tongue – as a third language.
Nazi past? Stasi past? Sebastian Huempfer challenges the conventional explanations for Germany’s strong reaction to Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA snooping.
Middle East specialist Rory McCarthy examines the role of Islamist movement Ennahdha in shaping, and constraining, freedom of speech in Tunisia after the Arab Spring.
Thomas Fingar, 2013 winner of the Sam Adams Awards for Integrity in Intelligence, argues that leaking classified information from within the intelligence services is unnecessary and dangerous.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington must be the beginning of the discussion of race, not the end. Bassam Gergi discusses why the depoliticisation of race in the US is problematic and only open debate can lead to progress.
Political theorist Rob Reich discusses what adaptations we need as freedom of speech and association move increasingly from the offline to the online world. Can the old principles still apply in new circumstances?
The Nigerian government is rumoured to have sealed a $40m dollar contract for internet surveillance technology. There is no clear justification for this “secret” deal, and no assurance that the technology would be used fairly, given Nigeria’s lack of established rights for citizen privacy. By Nwachukwu Egbunike and Dominic Burbidge.
Edward Snowden was not the first NSA official to sound the alarm. Thomas Drake, winner of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, makes his case to Free Speech Debate.
Legal philosopher Martha Nussbaum gave the 2013 Dahrendorf Lecture, exploring how to live with religious diversity.
Stephen Meili examines the contrasting UK and US treatment of people who refuse to declare a political allegiance.
India has its own fierce debate about media regulation. Arghya Sengupta discusses how the shadow of the 1970s “Emergency” hangs over proposed steps from failed self-regulation to statutory regulation.
Protests held by far right groups in ethnically diverse areas are provocation, but banning them can have undesired effects. Josh Black looks at a ban on the English Defence League in East London.
A university librarian faced a lawsuit over a critical blog post about the publishing house Edwin Mellen Press but online solidarity won out. By Dominic Burbidge.
A globally-effective privacy regime is a realistic goal, argues Ian Brown. But it needs giants like Google to get behind it.
The Russian parliament’s vote in support of a declaration against acts offending religious sentiments is symptomatic of worrying trends, write Olga Shvarova and Dominic Burbidge.
In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court made history by ruling that, to merit conviction, the violence advocated must be intended, likely and imminent. By Jeff Howard.
The forthcoming trial of Kenyan broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang poses vital questions about the connections between words and violence, argues Katherine Bruce-Lockhart.
Timothy Garton Ash delivers the Orwell Lecture at an unprecedented literary festival in Rangoon. He talks about three Orwells and three Burmas.
Kerem Oktem introduces our translation of a column by Hasan Cemal, which his newspaper, Milliyet, refused to print.
The question of how best to respond to the unauthorised dissemination of copyright-protected expression over the internet has long troubled copyright owners. But the proposed solution of a Copyright Alert could potentially erode free speech, writes Graham Reynolds.
A famous case of state censorship in Austria highlights the tendency of governments to pander to the majority, leaving controversial views unprotected. By Michele Finck.
Data protection laws now touch everyone’s lives and those living within the EU are about to have their regulations updated, writes David Erdos. These proposed laws are overly restrictive: the time has come to take a stand for those working in research.
For all its talk of press freedom, the Burmese government has produced a surprise new bill containing oppressive provisions and undermining the press council it created. Ellen Wiles reports.
The relationship between writers and the state is complex, multifaceted and changing. At the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 a panel of experts explores some of the issues faced by writers around the world.
At the European Court of Human Rights, the case of I.A. against Turkey in 2005 acted as a controversial precedent for limiting Article 10’s definition of freedom of expression in the name of religion, explains Michele Finck.
The Chinese government’s stance towards the question of free speech is guided by a philosophy that is complex but intelligent. Rogier Creemers diagnoses the underlying causes.
In 2006 the Kenyan police violently raided the offices and printing press of the Standard Group media organisation. What was the government afraid of seeing reported? Dominic Burbidge explores a revealing case.
At the invitation of Index of Censorship and the Editors Guild of India, Timothy Garton Ash joins Kirsty Hughes at a panel discussion in Delhi with Shri Ajit Balakrishnan, Shri Sunil Abraham and Ramajit Singh Chima.
On 10 October 2012 the Canadian teenager Amanda Todd committed suicide after years of cyber-bullying and harassment. Judith Bruhn describes a shocking case.
Peter Bradley describes a British initiative promoting free expression, public debate and active citizenship.
Islam, Christianity and Judaism are often accused of wanting to restrict free speech. Dominic Burbidge suggests a radically different perspective, from inside the thought-system of the Abrahamic faiths.
2013 began dramatically in China with a standoff between journalists and state propaganda authorities over a drastically rewritten New Year editorial. Timothy Garton Ash introduces English translations of the original and finally published versions.
Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi stresses the importance of free speech but emphasises the Buddhist idea of “right speech”.
Should government-initiated phone hacking be made public if the recordings are in the public interest? Shubhangi Bhadada exposes the thin line in India between the right to privacy and freedom of expression.
In a panel John Lloyd, T.R. Andhyarujina, Harish Salve and Daya Thussu discussed whether self-regulation can continue to remain a viable way forward for the Indian media.
Indian journalist and writer Tarun Tejpal speaks about development and corruption in India, and the role of investigative journalism.
The award-winning Indian novelist and activist speaks to Manav Bhushan about the limits to free speech in India, including government censorship through the media and “goon squads”.
An Indian and a Pakistani student at Oxford reflect on how their countries covered the same story in their own ways. By Zahra Shah and Debanshu Mukherjee.
At the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), authoritarian governments staked worrying claims. But the US-dominated model of non-governmental internet governance brings its own problems, writes Alison Powell. Beware of the Clinton Paradox.
On 17 December 2010, Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself – and began the Arab spring. Despite Islamist pressures on free speech and women’s rights, Rory McCarthy sees continued cause for hope.
Literacy is the fundamental building block for any society of free speech, evidenced not just in grand statistics but in the lives of those most in need. Dominic Burbidge reports.
Former MI5 agent Annie Machon speaks about how the intelligence services need to increase internal oversight.
Former MI5 agent Annie Machon speaks about when it is in her opinion justified and necessary to break the Official Secrets Act
Former British MI5 agent Annie Machon revealed, together with David Shayler, alleged criminal behaviour within the agency. In an interview with Sebastian Huempfer she speaks about the need for official channels through which whistleblowers can voice their concerns.
In 2010 president Barack Obama signed a law banning videos that depict animal cruelty. Judith Bruhn explores whether this is a justified restriction to freedom of expression.
We regularly highlight comments that have made an impression on us. Today’s comment comes from our user Howard Hill who is challenging the validity of the idea of the project.
Filippino journalist Marites Vitug speaks about her experience being charged with libel for her investigative journalism, freedom of the press in the Philippines and the new cybercrime law.
Aleph Molinari, founder of Fundación Proacceso ECO, speaks to Brian Pellot about why his Mexico-based non-profit organisation promotes information and communication technologies for development and why the internet should be considered a basic right.
A top Google executive was arrested in Brazil when the company refused to remove YouTube videos that made accusations against a local mayoral candidate. Felipe Correa discusses the case.
A new report shows only 12% of US election coverage on the abortion debate quotes women. Judith Bruhn explores why this under-representation of women’s voices is undermining women’s freedom of speech.
In 2002 Wang Xiaoning was sent to prison for 10 years after Yahoo passed on personal information Chinese authorities used to identify him. Judith Bruhn explores a case of conflicting laws and moral expectations.
If a decade of stalled attempts to enact Zambia’s Freedom of Information bill seems comical, there is underlying tragedy in how politicians have fallen short of their free speech rhetoric, writes Dominic Burbidge.
Social media and satellite television played a crucial role in the Arab uprisings, but Daoud Kuttab argues community radio must be embraced to effect positive change in the region.
Eli Dourado provides an overview of what WCIT is and what’s at stake. He co-founded WCITLeaks to bring transparency to the ITU’s proceedings.
In July the ITU Governing Council released one summary document of proposed ITR amendments. Dourado says this move did not represent real transparency.
Dourado suspects only the most egregious proposals have been uploaded to WCITLeaks for fear that a mass upload could bring diplomatic backlash.
The WCITLeaks.org co-founder discusses how anonymous uploads to his website are shedding light on the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications.
Historian Khaled Fahmy describes how historic Egyptian books are more easily found in Western than in Egyptian libraries – and how a scholarly history of the Middle East was recently banned from entering Egypt.
Romedia Foundation aims to disseminate an insider’s view of Romani issues, empower Romani activists and challenge stereotypes through new media.
Dominic Burbidge explores the corrupt links between political elites and mainstream media that suffocate genuine democratic debate in Africa.
Brazil’s Supreme Court renewed a law that requires journalists to hold a university degree in journalism. A currently discussed Amendment to the Constitution could further restrict the country’s media writes Felipe Correa.
Author Evgeny Morozov highlights the dangers that sometimes emerge when governments and corporations harness the internet to serve their own objectives.
Was punk band Pussy Riot’s anti-Putin performance in a Moscow church ‘religious hatred hooliganism’ or an artistic form of political dissent? Olga Shvarova considers the case.
Scott A Hale explores the effect of language in seeking and imparting information on the broader web.
The drive to control all references to the Olympic Games is part of a global creep of intellectual property law that has led to a “right of association”, writes Teresa Scassa.
A history textbook underplaying Japanese imperialism caused controversy domestically and internationally, write Ayako Komine and Naoko Hosokawa.
Igor Sutyagin, the Russian nuclear researcher sentenced to 15 years for espionage, found himself at the centre of a spy-swap deal in 2010, writes Olga Shvarova.
In 2010, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind almost closed its library because of funding issues. Yet some argue that those who can’t read Braille are akin to illiterates, writes Katie Engelhart.
Open access publishing models are having a significant impact on the dissemination on scientific information but their impact on the developing world is uncertain, writes Jorge L Contreras.
While China’s human flesh search engines can help reveal government corruption they can also be used to humiliate ordinary citizens, writes Judith Bruhn.
The online retailer has been criticised for profiting from ebooks featuring terror and violence. No one should tell us what to read, says Jo Glanville.
“Stretch friends” – individuals who are outside of your social circle online – will help break down cultural barriers.
Maryam Omidi takes a look at banned clothing around the world – and concludes that women tend to be the target of dogmatic dress codes.
Malachy Browne, news editor at Storyful, explains how the social media news agency validates news content sourced from the real-time web.
Free Speech Debate’s 10 draft principles benefit those in positions of privilege and power, writes Sebastian Huempfer.
A society in which free speech marginalises, rather than empowers, vulnerable citizens is a society in which our moral vision of universal free speech has not actually been achieved, writes Jeff Howard.
A pro-life campaigner and a pro-choice activist go head-to-head in this debate about the rise of US-style anti-abortion protests outside clinics in the UK.
According to a new report, annual global internet traffic will increase nearly fourfold between 2011 and 2016, moving us into the zettabyte era, writes Maryam Omidi.
Ukrainian cultural journals have become the target of “raiders” – shady groups working on behalf of powerful interests who use bogus property claims to close down businesses, says Mykola Riabchuk.
At an event in Oxford in 2011, three Indian scholars called on OUP India to re-publish an essay which had been denounced by Hindu extremists. Less than two weeks later, the publisher reversed its earlier decision not to re-publish.
Medical science frequently favours commercial interests over free speech, writes Deborah Cohen of the BMJ.
China may provide censorship tools to autocratic regimes in Africa, but western companies still dominate this market, writes Iginio Gagliardone, a post-doctoral fellow at Oxford University.
History is a sensitive issue in China with some of it desperately remembered and some, deliberately forgotten, writes Judith Bruhn.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a law to punish readers of websites promoting terrorism and violence, writes Clementine de Montjoye.
Environmental information is tightly controlled in China despite the existence of access to information regulations, writes Sam Geall.
Egypt made more edits to Wikipedia than any other African country between 2010 and 2011, according to new research.
The secretive approach adopted by parties in negotiating the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement constrained the ability of the public to challenge limits on free expression, writes Graham Reynolds.
In the first past of this debate, research fellow Kerem Öktem argues that an individual’s understanding of free speech is shaped by their personal history and geography.
From communism to Kurdish separatism, the Turkish state has used a series of pretexts to deny freedom of expression to its citizens, says journalist Hasan Cemal.
Online censorship is futile as it can almost always be circumvented, says Moez Chakchouk, the head of the Tunisian Internet Agency.
In 2010, the Hungarian prime minister passed a series of laws, giving excessive control over all private media to the government, writes Peter Bajomi-Lazar, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford.
How the Obama administration continues use of Bush-era powers to suppress legitimate debate about the needs of US national security. By Jeff Howard.
Jeremy Waldron, professor of social and political theory at Oxford University, argues the case for legislation against hate speech
Beyond Citizen Kane, a documentary on the 1989 Brazilian election, argues that broadcaster Rede Globo manipulated the montage in favour of one of the two remaining candidates, writes Felipe Correa.
Professor Ayşe Kadıoğlu of Sabancı University speaks of her experience growing up in Turkey where taboos, many imposed by law, have trapped citizens “in a state of immaturity”.
In March 2011, two prominent investigative journalists were arrested in Turkey because of their alleged ties to a terrorist organisation. Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener faced 15 years’ imprisonment if they were convicted, write Funda Ustek and Irem Kok.
In 2009, Aasia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman was accused of blasphemy. The governor who called for a review of her case was killed two years later, writes Ayyaz Mallick.
Private powers are not a “large threat” to free speech, the Canadian lawyer and publisher tells Katie Engelhart.
The US supreme court’s decision on Citizens United raises a vital issue: should corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals? Brian Pellot discusses the case.
In 2011, the Belarusian police arrested scores of people at a silent protest in Minsk. Annabelle Chapman looks at the case.
Sandra Coliver, senior legal officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative, says the right to information is essential for freedom of expression.
Exceptional individuals have risked and sometimes given their lives for free expression. Name them here.
The Occupy Wall Street movement adopted “the human microphone” in response to its lack of a permit for the use of amplified sound on public property in New York City. The human microphone embodies the pluralistic nature of the movement itself and serves to enhance its message, writes Casey Selwyn.
Israeli whistleblower Anat Kamm leaked 2,000 classified military documents obtained during her service with the Israeli Defence Force. Maryam Omidi discusses the claims of national security versus public interest.
In November 2011, South Africa’s lower house approved the protection of state information bill – legislation, which if passed can sentence those found guilty to up to 25 years’ imprisonment, writes Maryam Omidi.
With a readership of over 300 million, Han Han is one of China’s most influential online personalities. Judith Bruhn looks at his blog as an example of an individual citizen creating more open and diverse media in difficult circumstances.