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Freedom of speech

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**Historical Origins and International Recognition:**
– Ancient Athenian democratic principle of free speech
– Erasmus and Milton’s defense of freedom of speech
– Edward Coke’s claim of freedom of speech as a custom of Parliament
– Legal establishment of freedom of speech in England’s Bill of Rights 1689
– Introduction of one of the world’s first freedom of the press acts in Sweden in 1766
– Inclusion of freedom of speech in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789
– Adoption of freedom of speech in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1791
– Enshrining of freedom of speech in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
– Recognition of freedom of speech in international and regional human rights law

**Relationship to Other Rights and Legal Framework:**
– Limitations on freedom of speech when conflicting with other rights
– Connection of freedom of expression to the right to a fair trial and court proceedings
– Interaction of freedom of expression with the right to privacy and honor of others
– Importance of freedom of expression for media as a bearer of information
– Balancing act required when criticizing public figures within the realm of freedom of expression
– Recognition of limitations to freedom of speech such as libel, slander, obscenity, and hate speech
– Justifications for speech limitations based on the harm principle and offense principle
– Amendments to Article 19 in the ICCPR allowing for restrictions in certain circumstances
– Common boundaries to freedom of speech including national security and public health concerns

**Global Measurement and Monitoring:**
– Human Rights Measurement Initiative surveying the right to opinion and expression worldwide
– Application of freedom of speech becoming more controversial with digital evolution
– Initiatives like the Golden Shield Project imposing restrictions on data in China
– International, regional, and national standards recognizing freedom of speech as a multi-medium right
– Protection of freedom of speech encompassing both content and means of expression

**Freedom of Speech as a Negative Right and Democracy:**
– Freedom of speech is considered a negative right
– The government is legally obliged to take no action against the speaker based on their views
– No one is obliged to help speakers publish their views
– No one is required to listen to, agree with, or acknowledge the speaker or their views
– Freedom of speech is fundamental in a democracy
– Public debate may not be completely suppressed even in times of emergency
– An informed electorate is necessary for self-government by the people
– Voice and Accountability impact the quality of governance in a country

**Limitations, Harmful Content, and Impact on Society:**
– Legal systems often set limits on freedom of speech
– Limits may arise in cases of libel, slander, pornography, and intellectual property
– Some limitations occur through legal sanction, others through social disapprobation
– Journalists in Saudi Arabia face restrictions on writing about the royal family, religion, and government
– Media ethics play a crucial role in preventing harmful content dissemination
– Some views are illegal to express due to perceived harm to others
– John Stuart Mill argued for the fullest liberty of expression
– Joel Feinberg introduced the offense principle in 1985
– Factors to consider include the extent, duration, and social value of speech
– Interpretations of harm and offense limitations are culturally and politically relative
– Freedom of speech fosters social interactions and relationships
– Moon argues that communication helps in the development of knowledge and community direction
– Effective support for a free press is crucial in developing countries
– Opposition serves a vital social function in maintaining balance
– Freedom of speech provides a safety valve for societal tensions

Freedom of speech (Wikipedia)

Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The right to freedom of expression has been recognised as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law by the United Nations. Many countries have constitutional law that protects free speech. Terms like free speech, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression are used interchangeably in political discourse. However, in a legal sense, the freedom of expression includes any activity of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Orator at Speakers' Corner in London, 1974

Article 19 of the UDHR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals".

Freedom of speech and expression, therefore, may not be recognized as being absolute, and common limitations or boundaries to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, incitement, fighting words, hate speech, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, food labeling, non-disclosure agreements, the right to privacy, dignity, the right to be forgotten, public security, blasphemy and perjury. Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others".

The idea of the "offense principle" is also used to justify speech limitations, describing the restriction on forms of expression deemed offensive to society, considering factors such as extent, duration, motives of the speaker, and ease with which it could be avoided. With the evolution of the digital age, application of freedom of speech becomes more controversial as new means of communication and restrictions arise, for example, the Golden Shield Project, an initiative by Chinese government's Ministry of Public Security that filters potentially unfavourable data from foreign countries.

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative measures the right to opinion and expression for countries around the world, using a survey of in-country human rights experts.

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