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Restrictions on free speech are rising globally

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Significance

The arrest is part of a global crackdown on freedom of expression since the Arab uprisings, which has led to unprecedented numbers of journalists, bloggers and cyber activists being killed or imprisoned. The attack on satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo's offices on January 6, in which two cartoonists were among the 11 slain, highlighted the increasing antipathy towards the press and civil society, both from certain governments and non-state actors.

Impacts

  • Pressure will grow to hold social media networks and other internet intermediaries responsible for censoring violent and extremist content.
  • The rise of Islamist extremist attacks on Western journalists will increase opaqueness and reliance on citizen journalism and propaganda.
  • Greater reliance on citizens to generate content may spur investment into authentication and verification tools.
  • The resurgence of calls for a global law prohibiting 'defamation of religions' will hinder addressing discrimination and intolerance.
  • It will provide cover to countries with blasphemy laws that are used to restrict free expression and dissent.
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