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Freedom of Speech in Different Countries
by Adrian Ruhi
The People’s Republic of China is one of the largest countries in the world and maintains one of the largest economies. The Communist Party of China still rules the vast nation despite recent transitions into capitalism. Human rights conditions are reflective of the socialist regime and freedom of speech in particular is often hampered.
Although freedom of expression is not as repressed in China as it is in communist Cuba, censorship still occurs on a wide-scale basis, according to Amnesty International. Internet access is regularly controlled and monitored by the government, and many sites are banned. Independent journalists are required to pass several examinations before being licensed, and many subjects can only be covered by state-run media agencies.
by James Rigney
The Internet is proving a slippery slope for free speech advocates and activists. The United States has been the primary mover behind the giant computer network since its inception as a military communications system.
One of the most contentious areas of Internet litigation is online pornography. Advocates say the Internet should remain the last truly open forum for information. It is global, uncensored and accessible to almost everyone. Anti-pornography activists can give the same reasoning as to why the Internet should be censored. In 1996 the U.S. Congress passed the Communications Decency act which criminalized so-called indecent online material. The U.S. Supreme Court later struck down the law and said that online speech should be protected.
The primary concern for online decency activists is children. A list of the most searched words on any given day will likely include sexual content. Some technology experts even believe that much like the VCR, pornography helped make the Internet what it is today.
by James Rigney
In Iran, Internet access is growing by leaps and bounds. According to Human Rights Watch, at the beginning of the decade 250,000 Iranians were online. By July 2005 approximately 6.2 million Iranians were online. The number is expected to reach 25 million by 2009.
Despite the Iranian constitution stating citizens have freedom of expression, they are bound by rules that limit their speech. Citizens and their Internet service providers are prohibited from insulting the religion of Islam, publishing material that is against the constitution and creating pessimism about the legitimacy of the Islamic system.
In 2004 Iranian authorities imprisoned journalists, activists, bloggers and technical staff from political news Web sites. Some of these people said they were tortured for days before being released without formal charges in some cases.
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