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Free online speech and the suppression of false claims in politics

Horder, Jeremy (2021) Free online speech and the suppression of false claims in politics. Journal of International and Comparative Law. ISSN 2313-3775

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I will consider the approach taken in a number of different jurisdictions to the use of restrictions, including criminal law prohibitions, to prevent, deter and punish the making of false online claims designed to influence the course of political events, especially (but not solely) elections. I will explain, first, how a commitment to freedom of expression ought to make state measures to deter the dissemination of false political information online seem problematic. Secondly, I will show how a number of jurisdictions, including some liberal democracies, have wrongly been drawn into a more authoritarian response to the spread of such false information: a response that tries to set the terms on which people seek to make substantive contributions to politics. I explain how coercion may be employed (i) to secure equality conditions at the polls, when these are threatened by false claims, and (ii) to support transparency about authorship, but it should not be used to deter the propagation of substantive political content, simply on the grounds of its falsity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Journal of International and Comparative Law
Divisions: Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2020 09:03
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2021 23:12

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