Cyber Security News & Updates

You don’t have Freedom of Speech without Privacy

Freedom of Speech is the idea that you can discuss ideas without fear of harassment. But the judicial protection is actually quite weak; it only protects you from repercussions from your government. In order to allow society to discuss forbidden ideas, ideas that may turn out to be in the right, a much wider Freedom of Speech is needed: one that requires Privacy.

Freedom of Speech comes in two flavors: the strict, judicial definition, and the other definition that actually matters to the development of society.

The judicial, lexical definition says Freedom of Speech is a right against your government, and not against your peers. It says that your government may not punish you for any opinion you express. It usually comes with a very large list of exceptions, which makes the first statement kind of false: in Germany, you may not express a long list of hate speech, in Turkey, you may not say that the genocide of Armenians was a genocide (or pretend it happened at all), and so on. This definition of Freedom of Speech is the right usually enshrined in constitutions and bills of rights around the world, like the First Amendment in the United States (which has a very strong Freedom of Speech against the government in an international comparison).

However, the purpose of Freedom of Speech was never to tolerate the opinions everybody agrees on. You don’t need a constitutional protection to say out loud that fluffy kittens are cute and that bacon is yummy. The purpose of Freedom of Speech is to make space for the intolerable opinions, for the reviled statements, for the heretic ideas, for the despised utterances, for the completely taboo.

It exists to make space for discussing things like same-sex marriage, women’s right to vote, the indecency of slavery, and the possibility that the Earth revolves around the Sun in everyday conversation.

For as this list shows, what was once utterly forbidden to discuss – socially, not vis-a-vis the government – has improved society remarkably merely through its possibility of being discussed, when it therefore turned out that society’s taboos were in the wrong. That’s why one should be very careful with people who utter forbidden opinions: history may show they were the ones in the moral right.

That’s also why such forbidden opinions – and there are plenty of them today – need to be permitted beyond merely not being punished by the government. There are many things you can say today that will cause a hailstorm of Twitter hate to come your way, that will make you lose friends, your job, and so on. And that’s despite these opinions possibly being in the moral right.

As Paul Graham wisely wrote in 2004, there’s always some opinion you’re not socially allowed to hold, in every society, and there’s always at least one taboo that has no basis in reality.

So in order for society to progress, it’s actually of utmost importance that people can voice opinions without fear of harassment – even the most unpopular opinions (like the Earth revolving around the Sun). This Freedom of Speech isn’t in the narrow judicial definition, but a much wider, social definition.

And in practice, as there’s no shortage of people who will try to silence dissenting opinions using any means necessary, the only way to guarantee the wider Freedom of Speech today is by guaranteeing Privacy – to allow opinions to be posted and stand on their own, without connecting them to the identity of the posting individual. It doesn’t have to be strict anonymity as pseudonymity (posting under a nom de guerre) works just as well, but it does require strict privacy.

Therefore, you don’t have Freedom of Speech without Privacy (which remains your own responsibility).

About the author

Rick Falkvinge


  • Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site.

    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s tough to get that “perfect balance” between usability
    and appearance. I must say you’ve done a amazing job with this.
    Additionally, the blog loads extremely quick
    for me on Internet explorer. Superb Blog!

  • Link exchange is nothing else except it is only placing the other person’s webpage link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do similar for you.

  • I like the valuable information you provide for your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more here
    frequently. I’m slightly certain I will learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the following!

  • Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established
    blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal
    but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
    Thank you

  • I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing
    issues with your site. It seems like some of the text within your posts are
    running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and
    let me know if this is happening to them as well?

    This might be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this
    happen previously. Appreciate it

  • Fantastic goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and
    you’re just extremely magnificent. I actually like
    what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating
    and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of
    to keep it wise. I can’t wait to read far more from you.
    This is really a terrific website.

  • It’s the best time to make a few plans for the longer term
    and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I may I want to recommend you few interesting things
    or suggestions. Perhaps you can write subsequent articles referring
    to this article. I wish to read more things approximately it!

  • Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no backup.

    Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?

  • I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering issues with your blog.
    It looks like some of the text within your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me
    know if this is happening to them too? This might be a problem with my web
    browser because I’ve had this happen before. Thank

  • Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.

    Nonetheless, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back often!

  • Its such as you read my mind! You appear to grasp a lot
    approximately this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I think that you just could do with some p.c.
    to pressure the message house a bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog.
    An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  • Link exchange is nothing else but it is just placing the other person’s website link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also
    do same in favor of you.

  • That is very attention-grabbing, You are an overly skilled
    blogger. I have joined your rss feed and stay up for in the hunt for extra of your
    fantastic post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  • Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clarity
    in your post is just great and i could assume you are an expert
    on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to
    date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the
    rewarding work.

  • Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to return once again since i have saved as a favorite it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich
    and continue to guide other people.

  • We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable information to
    work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire
    community will be thankful to you.

  • I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the
    layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog
    like this one these days.

  • My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for about a year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    I have heard excellent things about Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?
    Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Hi there! I realize this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask.
    Does managing a well-established blog like yours require a lot of work?
    I am completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience
    and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips
    for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

  • Nice post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I am impressed!
    Extremely useful info specially the ultimate phase :
    ) I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this particular
    info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  • I’ve been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of space .
    Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this web site.
    Studying this information So i’m satisfied to convey that I have an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed.
    I so much unquestionably will make certain to do not overlook
    this website and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  • Awesome blog you have here but I was wondering if you
    knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get feed-back
    from other experienced people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!

Leave a Comment