Module 3: Criminalisation of Online Speech
There has been a growing trend of criminalisation of online speech over the past few years. Many states have attempted to justify this as a response to threats to hate speech, national security, the mushrooming of cybercrimes, and the proliferation of disinformation. In many instances, this has led to the stifling of free speech and access to information. While some of these threats are pervasive and might warrant responses from states, there is an urgent need to ensure that states do not rely on them as a means to justify restricting speech or controlling content.
This module provides an overview of the criminalisation of online speech. It looks at the applicable legal framework that guides what is permissible in terms of restrictions to the right to freedom of expression, as well as the relevant considerations for balancing competing rights. This module will also touch on hate speech, cybercrimes and disinformation.