Information Technology and Ethics/Intro



The Internet has revolutionized global connectivity, enabling the swift and widespread dissemination of information, ideas, and other expressive content. It serves as a cost-effective medium for reaching vast audiences rapidly. In response to these capabilities, governments and organizations worldwide have formulated laws and policies aimed at guiding the ethical use of this digital platform.

In the United States, the First Amendment safeguards freedoms concerning expression and religion[1].

Over time, its scope has broadened to encompass nonverbal, visual, and symbolic communications[2]. Importantly, it also protects the right to anonymous expression, a crucial provision for individuals in regimes restrictive of free speech. However, the First Amendment does not shield certain types of speech[3], such as perjury, fraud, defamation, and others that can cause significant harm, whether financial, reputational, or obstructive to one's professional prospects or electoral viability.

Freedom of expression is integral to the infrastructure of modern democracies. It empowers citizens to engage in political discourse, voice their opinions, and vote with informed perspectives. The robust exchange of ideas is essential for scrutinizing government actions and sustaining democratic principles. Without such freedoms, democratic processes degrade, undermining the very tenets of democratic governance.

Moreover, international frameworks like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[4] recognize freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. Article 19 of the UDHR[4] asserts everyone's right to express opinions without interference, underscoring the global acknowledgment of this freedom's importance. However, it also acknowledges that these freedoms come with responsibilities and may be subject to restrictions to protect others' rights, national security, or public order.[3]

  1. Overview of Symbolic Speech
  2. Freedom of Speech Scope Over Time
  3. a b Freedom of Speech Exceptions
  4. a b UDHR