Responding to Government Demands for Content Restrictions: The Need to Focus on Responsible Implementation Strategies

The announcement by Twitter last month that it is deploying the ability to block tweets on a country-by-country basis in response to government demand for content restrictions has generated an enormous amount of controversy.

Some commentators have accused the company, whose CEO once memorably described it as belonging to the “free-speech wing of the free-speech party,” of giving in to the demands of governments who take a narrow view of the freedom of expression in order to grow their business in lucrative new markets.

Other commentators view the decision as inevitable given that the company has grown to the point that it requires a physical presence outside the United States. This makes both Twitter and its employees vulnerable to jurisdictional assertions by foreign governments, including by democratic governments whose constitutions afford somewhat less expansive free speech protections than does the uniquely American First Amendment.

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