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Quick Note: Free Speech and the Internet

December 10, 2011

Today’s Note highlights an ArsTechnica post by Timoth Lee (@binarybits on twitter). The post is titled “Spanish site: seizing our domain was unconstitutional prior restraint” and discusses the legal developments in the U.S. Government’s seizure of a Spanish web site’s domain.

Lee’s article explains that there are two legal cases making their way through the courts. One is the government’s bid to seize the domain, and the other is an effort by the domain’s owner to reclaim it. The article is interesting because it explores the merits of the reclamation case, in which the domain owner argues that the government has unlawfully applied prior restraint (the act of censoring speech before it occurs). Lee tells us:

Puerto 80 points out that the same reasoning could be applied to any case of prior restraint. “The government’s theory would have allowed it to seize the New York Times issue that published the Pentagon Papers and destroy it, on the theory that the New York Times was facilitating Daniel Ellsberg’s violation of national security laws,” the brief said. “And the Times would have had no opportunity to show that its speech was lawful. That is simply not the law.” [all italics are added  by me and denote quotes from the article]

Discussions of free speech and the internet are particularly interesting because they seem likely to play such a central role in the coming years. Lee’s article touches on some key points and is worth the few minutes it will take you to read it.

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