Ever since it became popular among everyday people, the Internet has been vaunted as one of the most exciting venues for free speech that humankind has ever conceived. At the same time, an increasingly small amount of companies and interests have been able to restrict what is able to be seen go right here. Whether it is a totalitarian government putting into place a national firewall or a company like YouTube that functions in a free market in a free society deciding for viewers what they are allowed to see and not see, the free-speech implications are significant.
The EFF article points out that companies have oftentimes enforced less vigorous requirements for free speech and free information than the First Amendment would require. It also points out that, when a company does take an action that restricts people’s access to information or their ability to speak freely, there is no remedy. Were it a scenario where the government was censoring, people would have access to the courts to remedy the situation?
There is also no control on the part of consumers over the terms of service that they are required to accept from a company. Unlike civic mechanisms, such as the First Amendment, the interest of the people is subsumed to the interest of the company when dealing with free-speech issues on sites such as YouTube.
If you are in one of the nations where access to the video was restricted, you can likely still view it utilizing a VPN. Otherwise, barring YouTube changing its policies toward free speech, whatever they decide to take down gets taken down for good.
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