3. Freedom of Speech

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Freedom of speech takes on important new meaning in cyberspace. While it is possible for repressive regimes to control print and broadcast media, it is much more difficult to control online publication. This is especially true when the source of the information is outside the jurisdiction of those endeavoring to control speech.

Learning outcomes

  • assess the importance of issues raised in preceding topics
  • demonstrate understanding of complexity of the issues by comparing and contrasting opinions and sources
  • locate web resources and describe their relevance


  • principles, regulation, media, spam, offensive speech, censorship, anonymity, net neutrality

Study notes - Freedom of Speech

  • How has the internet changed the meaning and application of the First Amendment's protection of freedom of the press?
  • What is offensive speech? What should be prohibited or restricted by law in cyberspace?
  • What must be done to protect children in cyberspace? How is this different from protection elsewhere?
  • How is the Communications Decency Act being viewed by supporters and opponents?
  • What are some of the outcomes that could result from the global nature of the internet? Access to information? Different points of view? Lies and propaganda?
  • Should anonymity be allowed? Encouraged? Protected?
  • To what extent can new communities develop over the internet? Are these "real" communities? What makes them special?
  • Is the internet a communication system that is totally neutral - without conscience, principle or morality?

Selected media

  • Video: "Open Source Democracy" This is a talk given by author Douglass Rushkoff to discuss his ideas for politics and how they're impacted by computers and the internet. A lot of this information is discussed in some of the books he's written. This lecture was given as part of a computers and society class at NYU.
  • First Amendment's protection of freedom of the press
  • Communications Decency Act

Research Citations

For this course, I need to know where you got your information. Did you make it up or did you get it from a reliable source? Did you get all the information from one place or did you include information from multiple sources? If some of the opinions were controversial, were they your own or someone else's. Citations in APA (preferred) or MLA format must accompany your research. Including citations is important and factored into the grade. The format is not graded but noted.

If you are considering transferring to a 4 year college, you will be expected to know how to write a formal paper with citations. There are at least 2 styles of citations - MLA and APA. These are usually "taught" and required in the transfer English courses.

There are lots of good reference books and online tutorials available. The DeAnza Online Writing Center or the library will be happy to help you learn more.


  1. Before you start the reading and the assignments, take a few minutes to think about what you already know about the topic - Freedom of Speech. Write a sentence or two about this in the I know... discussion.

  2. Read the Study notes for an overview for the topics that will be covered.

  3. Read, view, listen to the selections in the Selected media list.

  4. Choose 3 words from the Keywords list. Find a web article or other online media that provides information about the words and how they relates to the course. Post the words, links to your selected web articles or online media, and a brief description about your selection for each, to the discussion 'Freedom of Speech keywords. Follow links provided by 3 other students, review their suggested articles and media, and write a brief reply to the author for each.