The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation. Harvard Univ. Jan. 2011. c.304p. ed. by Saul Levmore & Martha C. Nussbaum. ISBN 9780674050891. $27.95. LAW
Much writing about the Internet focuses on its remarkable capacity to democratize access to information, to provide a platform for previously marginalized voices, and to otherwise lower barriers and promote freedom. Levmore (William B. Graham Professor of Law, Univ. of Chicago Law Sch.) and Nussbaum (Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law & Ethics, Univ. of Chicago) explore the dark side of all this unregulated freedom and expose the truly vile and harmful speech that can flourish online. The roster of contributors, including many major thinkers on Internet policy and culture, is impressive. The book takes up the serious questions we must face as the net becomes not some specialized tool for technology enthusiasts but ubiquitous. What policies can we put in place to curb bullying and harassment while protecting free speech? What provisions can be made to protect individuals’ privacy or to prevent false and malicious rumors from forever tarnishing reputations? This book is an essential read for anyone interested in exploring these questions. It is particularly powerful in its treatment of privacy, reputation, and speech (both the protection of speech and the regulation of it) as inextricably linked concepts. VERDICT Indispensable! Scholars of Internet law and general readers alike will find this book informative, illuminating, and disturbing.
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