Freedom of speech, democracy and cyberspace: lessons from Australia, Singapore and India
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 01:15 by Lasa Sun
It was predicted that everyone on Earth will be connected by 2020, posing for our world a host of new opportunities - and dangers. Free speech is the essence of modern democratic government and the very spirit of social life. The new technological sphere - cyberspace - has provided free speech with both a new frontier and unprecedented challenges. The challenges in the area of freedom of speech in cyberspace are not only technological, but also legal, political, social, cultural and economic. In the light of these variables, an analysis of the status of freedom of speech in the context of both democracy and cyberspace in those three nations is undertaken in order to ascertain what are the commonalities and differences among those States in their approaches to maintenance of free speech: how do they, with their similar but different jurisdictions and pluralistic cultures, maintain a balance between free speech, democracy, and the challenges of cyberspace? The thesis has placed emphasis on the necessary aspects of comparison such as freedom of political speech, cyber-governance, cyber-sovereignty, the issues of diversity and tolerance, censorship, and international law rather than only on infrastructure and technology. Comparative analysis is the major method for the thesis along with doctrinal research. Australian, Singaporean and Indian systems of governance are all democracies but are all different, responding to the nature of their culture and their policies on freedom of speech. The thesis demonstrated that: free speech grows well under democratic environments; the cooperation of government and private actors would be an appropriate means of furthering appropriate cyber-governance; free speech works at its best under conditions of diversity; the harmonization of diversity and tolerance to censorship needs legitimacy, public approval and transparency; a reasonable balance needs to be maintained between international treaty practice and domestic legislative power; cautious consideration is required when establishing rules for the flow of information in cyberspace; and there is a need to balance 'Legal Paternalism' and 'Autonomy'