How to protect free speech online
Josh King, PPP Board Member and Vice President of Business Development & General Counsel of Avvo, recently wrote an article about how to protect free speech online. Among many of King’s suggestions is to enact a national anti-SLAPP law:
“Strategic lawsuits against public participation” are a form of “lawfare,” a use of the courts to bully speakers into staying silent for fear of incurring the costs of defending a lawsuit. As a company that rates and profiles lawyers, Avvo has seen more than its share of threatened and actual lawsuits. Fortunately, Avvo is based in Washington, which — along with California, Texas and a number of other states — has a robust anti-SLAPP statute. Such statutes level the playing field by allowing those exercising their First Amendment rights to quickly dispose of lawsuits designed only to silence them. And as the last attorney to sue Avvo discovered, losing a SLAPP suit in Washington state also means paying our attorney fees and a $10,000 fine.
But not every state has such protections. In New York, Florida and dozens of other states, it’s still far too easy for speech to be chilled by the prospect of defending against uncertain and costly litigation. To help change this, the Public Participation Project (PPP) is spearheading the effort to enact full anti-SLAPP protections at the federal level. Such a law would end forum shopping in defamation cases and be a powerful development for free speech online. I’m on the board of the PPP, and I encourage everyone with an interest in free speech to support its good work.”
Read the full post here: http://gigaom.com/2012/06/16/how-to-protect-free-speech-online/