EU Internet Law

EU Internet Law

Elgar European Law series

Andrej Savin

This timely and detailed book is a state of the art overview of Internet law in the EU, and in particular of the EU regulatory framework which applies to the Internet. At the same time it serves as a critical evaluation of the EU’s policy and governance methods and a comparative analysis, mainly contrasting American with EU solutions.

Chapter 4: Speech and content regulation

Andrej Savin

Subjects: law - academic, european law, internet and technology law


The Internet was born with a promise of bringing a world without national boundaries, where content is supplied and consumed at a low cost from the periphery. Such an Internet was supposed to be free of national control as it was assumed that content placed on it either cannot or will not be regulated.1 Although this proved to be illusory the exact extent to which the Internet is controlled remains controversial.2 By content regulation we understand various state-initiated efforts to control the substance of the Internet rather than its technical aspects. In other words, content control may be defined as an effort to ensure that certain types of information on the Internet are not seen, or are seen by certain groups of users only or under certain circumstances. In broadest terms, this is simply the question of whether a particular content can legally be put on the Internet in a jurisdiction, the circumstances under which this can be done, the regime for enforcing it and the consequences of breach. The measures through which content is controlled may involve public law, such as criminal or administrative, or private law, such as the law of defamation or intellectual property law, or hybrid branches, such as media and telecommunications law. In this chapter, content regulation is looked at through a number of issues which are conceptually connected and which are chosen for their practical importance. The first is control of illegal and harmful content. The second is free speech and defamation. The third is copyright infringement.

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