Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski
Chapter 20: Hate and harm: the law on hate speech
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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