School of Electronics and Computer ScienceFaculty of Physical Sciences andEngineeringUniversity of Southampton Daniel Precupet 29/11/2017 Freedom ofSpeech and Defamation Personal tutor: Mahesan Niranjan A report submitted for the award ofComputer Science “I am aware of therequirements of good academic practice, and the potential penalties for anybreaches”. AcknowledgementsI would like to thank…….ContentsBrief 4Abstract 5Introduction.. 6Why Freedom of Speech is needed. 7Conclusions. 10References.
11Brief Many of us are familiarwith tales of individuals being arrested because of a flippant post to twitter,or pursued in court for damages because of sarcastic (and perhaps ill advised)comments on high profile figures subject to journalistic investigation.Legislation exists to protect individuals’ freedom of expression, and tosupport civil claims of defamation. Prepare and produce atechnical report which introduces the topics of Freedom of Speech and Defamation.
The report should point out the responsibilities of individuals andorganisations in respect of this type of legislation. You should consider allsorts of publications and communications online. You should also identify waysin which ‘owners’ of websites and blogs are bound to ensure that they protecttheir sites from malicious hacking; being used as a platform for publishing’rogue’ views and messages.
AbstractThis report provides an introduction into the topics ofFreedom of Speech and Defamation. These legislations are of great importance sincethe rise of social media and they provide the balance between freedom and hate;without one of them then the legislation would be imbalanced and could beabused. Due to the laws being on the opposite side of the spectrum,there is a clear confliction between Freedom of Speech and Defamation which iswhy there needs to be a balance between them. Reporters and organisations, such as Facebook, need to takethe greatest care when expressing their freedom of speech. This is because theyhave a much bigger reach than most individuals. Ensuring their expressions arevalid and do not directly or indirectly damage others will prevent a defamationsuit. Portraying fake news can lead to disasters such as the manipulation ofpresidential elections. Website and blog owners need to ensure they take the correctsecurity approaches to prevent malicious hacking which can be used to portrayrogue ideologies and messages which could be harmful to others, whether it’shating on someone or defaming a competitor.
This report makes this conclusions,argument etcIntroductionThe internet may be very youngbut it can still be abused quite easily. Certain laws are required to ensurethat good people don’t get arrested for expressing their freedom of speech.Other laws such as defamation laws are required to ensure that people don’tmisuse their freedom of speech by causing damage to other people. “Currently, aperson suing for defamation does not have to prove the words they arecomplaining about” (BBC (2012) New Defamation Bill ‘to protect freedom ofspeech’) which is the main reason for a defamation law; it protectspeople who use their freedom of speech, as well as making sure that the lawdoesn’t get abused.Blog and website owners mustmake sure that their sites are protected. This is because if their sites get alot of traffic then they may be at risk of malicious hacking which can lead to’rogue’ views being published. The biggest risk of being online is the abilityto express your views without the need of a real-life conversation.
An exampleof this is the Qatar state news agency being hacked to provide a fake story whichprovided controversial comments. It “quoted Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin HamadAl Thani as calling Iran an “Islamic power””(The Telegraph (2017) Qatar newshacked). Considering that this region is in political turmoil,hackings such as this are a huge deal as they can easily manipulate people.With the recent repeal of netneutrality, freedom of speech is at risk of being controlled by ISPs.
This canlead to the Freedom of Speech legislation being weakened by this act which canlead to mass manipulation. Why Freedom ofSpeech is needed Freedom of Speech is very importantwhen it comes to the real world, without it women may never have been allowedto vote. However, it is also important on the internet. Our lifestyles areheavily invested in the online world which means that people need the abilityto express themselves in any way they wish. This is where the law comes in. Freedom of speech is the right given toa person to express their opinions without the government restricting theirviews. It may seem like this law allows people to say absolutely anything theywish, however that is not true due to the law having restrictions when it comesto hate speech, slander and defamation. On the other hand, what happens whenthe President of the United States expresses his thoughts, such as a recenttweet made my Donald Trump, which stated he had a much more powerful NuclearButton than Kim Jong Un and that it works.
Although what he says doesn’tviolate any current laws, many see itas unacceptable behaviour which can lead to even worse relations between these2 countries. There needs to be a clear balancebetween the freedom of speech law and the defamation law. What happens when oneparty feels they are expressing their accurate views and the other party feelsthat they have been defamed? This is what happened between a famous youtuberand a bar. How can Freedom of Speech be restricted? (Ricky Banks vs Barley House) After an eventful night out, Ricky decidedto describe his view of the event through a video which was viewed by millions.
His fans retaliated to the bar by sending death threats and creating falsereviews on the bar’s social media pages. This led to the bar creating their ownvideo and then getting a “temporaryrestraining order that also orders Violet, Banks and anyone in “activeconcert” with them to stop “cyber-bullying and cyber-attackcampaigns” against the Barley House.” (Cleveland(2017) Judge orders YouTube stars Alissa Violet, Ricky ‘FaZe’ Banks, to cease ‘cyber-bullyingcampaign’ against Cleveland bar)Thisstopped the YouTube star from replying to the video made by the bar which is aclear violation of the Freedom of Speech law, which shows that people can besilenced from saying their view. Why the Defamation law is needed The defamation law protects people andorganisations from damaging comments from people whom think that they are fullyprotected by the Freedom of Speech law. An example of this sort of abuse is whenan article claimed that Katie Holmes was a drug addict. This story was falseand it was defamatory as it could’ve lead to Holmes losing potential movieroles. People need to ensure they do not postany defamatory comments as they “do not accomplish anything except to hurt and demean theirintended subject” (Guardianlv (2014) Freedom of Speech comes withResponsibility).
Reporters need to ensure their sources are accurate as a falseaccusation falls under defamation and is not protected by the Freedom of Speechlaw. Net Neutrality Repeal and its effects on Freedom of Speech With the recent vote to get rid of netneutrality, Freedom of Speech faces a huge challenge in the online world. ISPswill have the ability to influence any article they wish. How? By slowing downhow fast these websites load relative to other websites or by not allowing themto load at all. This is what is happening in Beijing now. This leads to Chinesecitizens to”simply gravitate to the few sites that aren’t slowed or blocked entirely: theChinese counterparts of Facebook, Google, and Twitter.” (NYTimes (2017) What if you couldn’t see this page?)Thissort of manipulation may soon happen in America, where websites that opposeTrump could be slowed down and when there’s a new presidential election certaincandidates may have their websites favoured over others which leads to an imbalancein the information reaching the public.
Awebsite just needs to be slowed down by a few seconds and the users will getbored and move to a different website. That’s how powerful this repeal will be. Malicious hacking used to promote rogueviews Certain websites and blogs have a verywide reach on audiences around the world which can lead to them being targeted byhackers. These hackers can then publish their ‘rogue’ views and messages which mayinfluence thousands of people into accepting this view. Therefore, the ownersof websites and blogs need to ensure they are protected from these hackers asmuch as possible. Not only can hackers spread their ownviews, they can also distribute malware, redirect users to different sites andsteal user data and much more.
This image is a compilation of 873responses made by website and blog owners whom have had their sites hacked. Itshows what hackers do with the site. Source: https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2016/04/hackers-compromised-wordpress-sites/ Back in 2012, members of the hackinggroup ‘Anonymous’ hacked three websites of Christian organisations and changedthe website to a “30-minutelong YouTube video, Richard Dawkins: An Atheist’s Call to Arms” (IBTimes (2012)Anonymous Hackers Attack Christian Websites, Declare ‘Religion Sucks LOL’).
Actions like this damages the views shared by many which is why website ownersneed to ensure they protect their sites. Fortunately, website owners have adefence to defamation if they can show that they were not the publisher orauthor ConclusionsIn conclusion, the freedom of speechlaw is crucial to making progress in society and allowing people to expresstheir views without any censorship; when paired with the defamation law, it becomesbalanced and sustainable. Malicious hacking to provide rogueviews may seem that it falls under the freedom of speech law, however some ofthese views are not opinions, they are hate speech which does not fall underthe law and there are consequences for these published views. One of the disadvantages of freedom ofspeech is that it can be misinterpreted by people which leads to hateful viewsbeing published under the impression they are protected by the law. Also,should everyone have the ability to express their opinions or should certainpeople like Donald Trump be restricted from sharing certain views on socialmedia due to the repercussions it could have. ReferencesBBC(2012) New Defamation Bill ‘to protect freedom of speech’.
Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18005317 (Accessed: 10 December 2017).
TheTelegraph (2017) Qatar state news agency ‘hacked with fake positive story about Israel andIran’. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.
uk/news/2017/05/24/qatar-state-news-agency-hacked-fake-positive-story-israel-iran/(Accessed: 10 December 2017). NYTimes(2017) What if you couldn’t see this page?Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/opinion/net-neutrality-china-internet.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FFreedom%20of%20Speech%20and%20Expression (Accessed: 27 December 2017) Guardianlv (2014) Freedom of Speech Comes with Responsibility http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/freedom-of-speech-comes-with-responsibility/(Accessed: 27 December 2017) Cleveland (2017) Judge orders YouTube stars Alissa Violet, Ricky ‘FaZe’ Banks, to cease ‘cyber-bullyingcampaign’ against Cleveland bar http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/12/judge_orders_youtube_star_alis_1.html(Accessed: 27 December 2017) IBTimes (2012) Anonymous Hackers Attack Christian Websites, Declare ‘Religion SucksLOL’http://www.ibtimes.com/anonymous-hackers-attack-christian-websites-declare-religion-sucks-lol-419586(Accessed: 27 December 2017)