Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy. It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and the respect of human dignity. It is also one of the most dangerous rights, because freedom of expression means the freedom to express one's discontent with the status quo and the desire to change it. As such, it is one of the most threatened rights, with governments - and even human rights groups - all over the world constantly trying to curtail it.
The United States, probably like no other nation, has recognized the importance of freedom of expression to safeguard democracy and grow as a nation. However, this does not mean there are no efforts to try to curtail it. The internet has often been the target of this efforts, as it provides practically everyone with the ability to communicate their ideas to wide audiences and escapes the ability of the state to control it.
This page is just being born, but in the future we hope to provide you with thorough information about what freedom of speech means, why it is important to protect it and what are the attempts to curtail it. Meanwhile we hope you find the information we do offer useful.
Indecent Material at Derechos
Derechos was an amicus on the ACLU cases against the US government vis a vis the so called Communication Indecency Act which criminalized the "making available" of "indecent" information to minors, and punished it with 2 years in prison. The statute was declared to violate the first ammendment by the Supreme Court. This is an example of clearly protected speech that was jeopardized by the statute.
Bomb Making Information - 183K
A report by the US Justice Department. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joseph Biden were/are trying to pass a law criminalizing thedistribution of bomb making information, both online and offline. This will interfere with the right of individuals to impart and obtain information. Bomb making information has many legitimate uses. Derechos Human Rights, for example, has published the Spanish version of the Urban Terrorism manual used at the US Army School of the Americas to teach foreign military. The manual contains information on how to make a car bomb.
Threatened Web Sites
The following are web sites whose existence or whose authors have been threatened.
Euzkal Herria Journal
The web site of a pro-Basque-Independence organization. The site was the subject of a mail-bombing attack by Spaniards who linked it with the terrorist group ETA. Nothing on the site that we could see, however, implies such connection or advocates the use of violence. Their provider, IGC, was forced to take the site down, which caused it to be mirrored at other sites.
Canadian Government Shuts Down Anonymous Political Site
The Canadian Government is enforcing a law that prohibits anonymous political speech - including online - and has threatened to charge the individual who published this page that we are now mirroring. You can find more information about the issue at http://insight.mcmaster.ca/org/efc/pages/elections/.