1996 January 9

Group Urges Ban on Internet “Hate Speech”


The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization in Los Angeles, urged national internet providers on this day to not carry messages that promote “racism, anti-Semitism, mayhem and violence.” It cited a “rapidly expanding presence of hate groups on the internet.” Esther Dyson, head of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, attacked the proposal as censorship.

The incident was one of several controversies over this issue of freedom of speech on the internet. Most important, see the 1996 Communications Decency Act (February 6, 1996), which would have barred a broad range of “indecent” expression on the internet, but which the Supreme Court ruled was a violation of the First Amendment in Reno v. ACLU on June 26, 1997, in a major victory for freedom of expression.

Learn more about free speech on the internet: https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/internet-free-speech

Read about the history of hate speech: Samuel Walker, Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy (1994)

Learn more about internet and free speech at the Electronic Freedom Foundation: https://www.eff.org/

Learn more at the National Coalition Against Censorship here.

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