UCL Faculty of Laws


Balancing Act: Freedom of Speech and Internet Platforms in the new Digital World

10 May 2018, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Law's Lost Empire? Freedom of Speech and the Media in the World of the Internet

Part of the Current Legal Problems (CLP) lecture series and annual volume.

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws


UCL Gideon Schreier LT, Bentham House, 4-8 Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG


Prof. Catherine O'Regan (Director of Bonavero Institute for Human Rights, University of Oxford, and Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa)


The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Hallett (Court of Appeal Judge)

About the lecture:

The manner in which information and opinions are published on the Internet differs fundamentally from how publication takes place in the established print and broadcast media. Differences include the extraordinary number of publications (vastly exceeding anything seen before), the fact that publication may reach an enormous global audience almost instantaneously, the wide use of anonymity in publication and the absence of any third-party editorial control on the decision to publish.  

Internet publication may on the one hand be a great boon for freedom of speech in that it gives a platform to anyone who has access to the internet, but  on the other internet publication may be particularly vulnerable to censorship, for example, by being blocked by nation states who are offended or threatened by internet communications. In addition, internet publication undermines both traditional systems of civil and criminal legal regulation of speech and the media, and often evades long-estabalished  systems of industry-based regulation, such as advertising standards.

In her lecture, Professor O’Regan will examine the changes that the internet era has introduced and consider what role law may play in the future in both protecting freedom of speech on the internet, as well as legitimately regulating speech on the Internet.

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