Module 3: Criminalisation of Online Speech
There has been a growing trend of criminalising online speech over recent years. Many states have attempted to justify this as a response to threats of 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 the online harms that prompt criminalisation are a genuine concern which may warrant responses from states, there is an urgent need to ensure that states do not use these 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 on the right to freedom of expression, and the relevant considerations for balancing competing rights. This module will also touch on hate speech, cybercrimes, and disinformation.