Technology and Liberty: Internet Free Speech

Document Date: January 1, 2004

The Court has ruled that Grokster can be sued if its software is used to illegally swap music and movies. The Court also said cable companies can deny rivals access to broadband lines.

The ACLU’s vision of an uncensored Internet was clearly shared by the U.S. Supreme Court when it struck down the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA), a federal law that outlawed “indecent” communications online. Ruling unanimously in Reno v. ACLU, the Court declared the Internet to be a free speech zone, deserving of at least as much First Amendment protection as that afforded to books, newspapers and magazines. The government, the Court said, can no more restrict a person’s access to words or images on the Internet than it could be allowed to snatch a book out of a reader’s hands in the library, or cover over a statue of a nude in a museum.

The importance of the Internet as the “the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed,” requires that the courts perpetually uphold the freedom of speech.

> Ashcroft v. ACLU
– Challenge to Internet Censorship Law

> US v. American Library Assn. – Supreme Court Rules On Challenge to Library Web Blocking Law
> Edelman v. N2H2 Inc. – Protecting Censorware Research from DMCA
> Melvin v.Doe – Challenging Frivolous Breaches of Online Anonymity
> Closed Internet free speech cases
> List of other relevant Internet free speech litigation

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