The Future Of Free Expression In A Digital Age By Jack M Balkin Summary

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In the article “The Future of Free Expression in a Digital Age by Jack M. Balkin, the author discusses the abilities of individuals to express themselves on the internet, and how it is changing. In the twentieth century, newspapers, books, radio, and television were the best ways to communicate information to the masses. Over time, these sources were controlled by fewer and fewer executives, thus limiting the free expression of certain groups. As the computer came into the possession of the public, free expression was available to anyone who could write a blog or post on social media sites. Balkin suggests that the variety of thoughts and the sharing of knowledge on the internet has lead to increasing creativity and innovation. He states, …show more content…
He mentions two issues that are influencing changes- net neutrality and limits on intermediate liability. While neither are free speech issues, they both “affect the structure of media access and the nature of free expression on the Internet” (Balkin, 2009). Net neutrality’s goal is to keep the internet open to all parties and not allow providers to limit users access to certain sites. However, it is not a government entity, so it is not necessarily addressed by the First Amendment. Balkin also discusses the liability limits that apply to internet providers, social networking sites, blog platforms etc. under Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This section says that the providers are simply a path for the speech of their users, so the provider cannot be held liable for anything that is posted. This produces something the author calls collateral censorship. This occurs when the provider blocks a certain poster or site in order to avoid lawsuits. This can limit the number and diversity of people leading to a decrease of information available. As a result, the author predicts that attention will shift to the design of the institutions and technology with limited judicial guidance as …show more content…
This freedom allows innovation and collaboration by diverse groups. This collaboration could be used to solve a multitude of problems from technology to medical advances. However, since there is always someone willing to use a good invention for evil purposes, some regulation must occur whether by the judiciary, technology, or other forms of regulation. As Balkin predicted, Facebook is one company that is facing the demand for technological advancements that can help monitor abuse of the platform. With live posts of crimes and suicides, Facebook is hiring additional humans and developing new technologies that will help remove harmful or offensive posts and videos (Lunden, 2017). Additionally, there have been numerous calls to regulate the internet, but there is no agreement on how that should be done. Rules and regulations differ by country, so what is censorship in the United States may be standard operating procedure in China. For example, one can google democracy in the United States, but may be thrown in jail for doing so in China (Abelson, Ledeen & Lewis, 2011). I do agree with Balkin that the future of free expression will be a challenge, and finding a balance of technology and regulation will be necessary to avoid

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