Internet Censorship

Internet Censorship

The ACLU's vision of an uncensored Internet was clearly shared by the U.S. Supreme Court when it declared, in Reno v. ACLU, the Internet to be a free speech zone, deserving 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.

But internet censorship is hardly a dead issue; freedom of speech online continues to be threatened, and the ACLU is working against those threats: The Supreme Court's decision not to review COPA for a third time affirmed our stand – the government has no right to censor protected speech on the Internet, and it cannot reduce adults to hearing and seeing only speech that the government considers suitable for children.

Additional Resources

Don't Filter Me project (2011 video): Our Don't Filter Me project is pursuing the removal of web filters on school computers that are unconstitutionally blocking access to hundreds of LGBT websites, including sites that contain vital resources on subjects like bullying and student gay-straight alliances. We filed lawsuits in several school districts and sent demand letters in many more on behalf of students and organizations whose sites are being blocked. The filters do not block access to comparable anti-LGBT websites that address that discuss the same topics and that violates the First Amendment.

NETWORK NEUTRALITY 101: Why The Government Must Act To Preserve The Free And Open Internet (2010 resource): The Internet has become a deeply ingrained in the lives of most Americans. It looms so large, in fact, it is easy to imagine that it is immune to change — that it will always remain the free and open medium that it is now. But there are no such guarantees.

Online Free Speech (2006 resource): In a clear victory for free speech, the Supreme Court has announced that it will not hear the government's appeal of a ban on the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), the federal law that would criminalize constitutionally protected speech on the Internet.

Online Censorship in the States (2002 resource): In a sweeping victory for free speech rights in cyberspace, the Supreme Court struck down the Communications Decency Act in Reno v. ACLU in June 1997. The Court granted the highest level of First Amendment protection to the Internet, and cyber-activists are still dancing in the streets. Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, states are busy crafting censorship laws at home.

Strategy for Countering Jihadist Websites (2010 PDF)

Supreme Court Hears Web-Blocking Case (2003 resource)

Most Popular

ACLU et al. v Alberto R. Gonzales (2006 PDF)

Fahrenheit 451.2: Is Cyberspace Burning? (2002 resource)

Censorship in a Box: Why Blocking Software is Wrong for Public Libraries (2002 resource)


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