Table of Contents

Research Handbook on EU Internet Law

Research Handbook on EU Internet Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski

This innovative book provides an overview of the latest developments and controversies in European Internet law. It is grouped in sections that correspond to the most disputed areas, looking consecutively at policy and governance, copyright, private international law, E-commerce & consumer protection and citizens and their position on the Internet. More than a basic introduction. The authors go further than a basic introduction into the field, as they highlight the challenges that European law- and policy-makers face when attempting to regulate the Internet.

Chapter 20: Hate and harm: the law on hate speech

Alisdair A. Gillespie

Subjects: law - academic, european law, information and media law, international commercial law, internet and technology law


This chapter considers an issue related to content-based offences on the Internet. As is well-known there has, for some time, been concern about some of the content that is to be found on the Internet. Considerable attention has been paid to prima facie illegal material such as child pornography and terrorist material but there is also concern about other types of content including, pro-anorexia websites, pro-suicide websites and material that is sometimes labelled hate speech. In a single chapter it is not possible to consider all types of content and discuss the ways in which it is regulated. Instead this chapter will consider one form of content, that of hate speech and, specifically, the issue of racist and xenophobic material. Tackling racism and xenophobia is a priority of the EU and tackling such material on the Internet is thus important. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Internet has provided considerable opportunities to propagate hate speech material. As will be seen momentarily, ‘hate speech’ is a very wide concept that includes a broad range of material, but perhaps its two classic forms are in respect of racist material and also anti-religious material (for example, anti-Semitic material and, more recently, anti-Islam). The number of websites that include hate speech appears to have increased in recent years, presumably reflecting the ubiquitous nature of the Internet in modern society and the fact that it is now the preeminent way to disseminate material.

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