This article is about freedom of speech in general. For freedom of speech pdf of speech in specific jurisdictions, see freedom of speech by country.
For free speech restrictions on Wikipedia, see WP:Free speech. Freedom of expression” redirects here. Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction. The term “freedom of expression” is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
Freedom of speech and expression, therefore, may not be recognized as being absolute, and common limitations to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, incitement, fighting words, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, food labeling, non-disclosure agreements, the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, public security, and perjury. Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. The idea of the “offense principle” is also used in the justification of speech limitations, describing the restriction on forms of expression deemed offensive to society, considering factors such as extent, duration, motives of the speaker, and ease with which it could be avoided. With the evolution of the digital age, application of the freedom of speech becomes more controversial as new means of communication and restrictions arise, for example the Golden Shield Project, an initiative by Chinese government’s Ministry of Public Security that filters potentially unfavorable data from foreign countries.
The right to freedom of expression has been interpreted to include the right to take and publish photographs of strangers in public areas without their permission or knowledge. Freedom of speech and expression has a long history that predates modern international human rights instruments. It is thought that ancient Athens’ democratic ideology of free speech may have emerged in the late 6th or early 5th century BC. The values of the Roman Republic included freedom of speech and freedom of religion.