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Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment. "Speech" is not limited to public speaking and is generally taken to include other forms of expression. The right is preserved in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies greatly from one nation to another. In many nations, particularly those with relatively authoritarian forms of government, overt government censorship is enforced. Censorship has also been claimed to occur in other forms (see propaganda model) and there are different approaches to issues such as hate speech, obscenity, and defamation laws even in countries seen as liberal democracies.
The Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to every citizen and there have been landmark cases in the Indian Supreme Court that have affirmed the nation's policy of allowing free press and freedom of expression to every citizen. In India, citizens are free to criticize politics, politicians, bureaucracy and policies. The freedoms are comparable to those in the United States and Western European democracies. Article 19 of the Indian constitution states that:
All citizens shall have the right —
- to freedom of speech and expression;
- to assemble peaceably and without arms;
- to form associations or unions;
- to move freely throughout the territory of India;
- to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
- to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
These rights are limited so as not to affect:
- The integrity of India
- The security of the State
- Friendly relations with foreign States
- Public order
- Decency or morality
- Contempt of court
- Defamation or incitement to an offence
Freedom of speech is restricted by the National Security Act of 1980 and in the past, by the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) of 2001, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) from 1985 to 1995, and similar measures. Freedom of speech is also restricted by Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which deals with sedition and makes any speech or expression which brings contempt towards government punishable by imprisonment extending from three years to life. In 1962 the Supreme Court of India held this section to be constitutionally valid in the case Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar.
Blasphemy against Islam is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it is a crime to use a computer network to "damage the national unity or social peace". The law has been used to convict people for criticising state security investigations on Twitter.
In the United States freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are several common law exceptions including obscenity, defamation, incitement, incitement to riot or imminent lawless action, fighting words, fraud, speech covered by copyright, and speech integral to criminal conduct; this is not to say that it is illegal, but just that the government may make it illegal. There are federal criminal law statutory prohibitions covering all the common law exceptions other than defamation, of which there is civil law liability, as well as terrorist threats, making false statements in "matters within the jurisdiction" of the federal government, spreading false and misleading information (which has been used to punish hoaxes on 4chan), speech related to information decreed to be related to national security such as military and classified information, false advertising, perjury, privileged communications, trade secrets, copyright, and patents. There also exist so-called "gag orders" which prevent the recipient of certain court orders (such as those concerning national security letters, stored communications subpoenas, pen registers and trap and trace devices) from revealing them. Most states and localities have many identical restrictions, as well as harassment, and time, place and manner restrictions. In addition, in California it is a crime to post a public official's address or telephone number on the Internet.
The Newseum's five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Historically, local communities and governments have sometimes sought to place limits upon speech that was deemed subversive or unpopular. There was a significant struggle for the right to free speech on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s. And, in the period from 1906 to 1916, the Industrial Workers of the World, a working class union, found it necessary to engage in free speech fights intended to secure the right of union organizers to speak freely to wage workers. These free speech campaigns were sometimes quite successful, although participants often put themselves at great risk.
In some public places, freedom of speech is limited to free speech zones, which can take the form of a wire fence enclosure, barricades, or an alternative venue designed to segregate speakers according to the content of their message. They are most often created at political gatherings or on college or university campuses. There is much controversy surrounding the creation of these areas — the mere existence of such zones is offensive to some people, who maintain that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution makes the entire country an unrestricted free speech zone. Civil liberties advocates claim that Free Speech Zones are used as a form of censorship and public relations management to conceal the existence of popular opposition from the mass public and elected officials.
Neither the federal nor state governments engage in preliminary censorship of movies. However, the Motion Picture Association of America has a rating system, and movies not rated by the MPAA cannot expect anything but a very limited release in theatres. Since the organization is private, no recourse to the courts is available. The rules implemented by the MPAA are more restrictive than the ones implemented by most First World countries. However, unlike comparable public or private institutions in other countries, the MPAA does not have the power to limit the retail sale of movies in tape or disc form based on their content, nor does it affect movie distribution in public (i.e., government-funded) libraries. Since 2000, it has become quite common for movie studios to release "unrated" DVD versions of films with MPAA-censored content put back in.
Unlike what has been called a strong international consensus that hate speech needs to be prohibited by law and that such prohibitions override, or are irrelevant to, guarantees of freedom of expression, the United States is perhaps unique among the developed world in that under law, hate speech is legal.
For instance, in July 2012 a U.S. court ruled that advertisements with the slogan, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel Defeat Jihad", are constitutionally protected speech and the government must allow their display in New York City Subway. In response on 27 September 2012 New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved new guidelines for subway advertisements, prohibiting those that it "reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace". The MTA believes the new guidelines adhere to the court's ruling and will withstand any potential First Amendment challenge. Under the new policy, the authority will continue to allow viewpoint ads, but will require a disclaimer on each ad noting that it does not imply the authority's endorsement of its views.
In response to libel tourism, in 2010 the United States enacted the SPEECH Act making foreign defamation judgments unenforceable in U.S. courts unless those judgments are compliant with the First Amendment.
Article Credit : http://en.wikipedia.org/