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Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Abstract

A Taiwanese court sentenced a blogger to 30 days of detention for her comments that a restaurant’s food was too salty and that the locale was unsanitary. In Indonesia, a woman was sentenced to six months in jail for libel after an e-mail she sent to friends about poor treatment she received in a hospital was posted on Facebook. These are not isolated cases of persecution, but part of a broad pattern of challenges facing individuals around the world. The United Nations recently released a report on legal trends involving restriction of expression on the Internet, declaring that freedom of expression on the Internet is a human right. If Internet freedom is a human right, what are the limits of that entitlement? This Essay explores existing legal models and restrictions on online communication through case studies, including discussion of restrictions in countries affected by the Arab Spring of 2011. This Essay suggests six basic elements for a legal framework that can support the unique challenges presented by the Internet as it becomes a primary mode of communication.

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