Free Expression & the Law

Free Expression & the Law


The right to express oneself is a fundamental human right outlined in International Law. However, most societies would agree there are types of expression that are not acceptable and which conflict with other human rights, such as promoting hate speech.

For this reason, Governments use laws to limit freedom of expression if it conflicts with other human rights, such as the protection of the rights or reputations of others, national security,public order,public health and morals. Unfortunately, governments, private institutions and individuals around the world can abuse such limitations, using legislation and the judicial system unjustly to control expression and quash opposing views.

Free Expression Online

Free expression online refers to your right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas online, without fear or restriction from surveillance, censorship or laws silencing dissent.

As people turn to digital environments as a way of expressing views they may not feel safe expressing through other channels, more and more governments are using legislation, including privacy and national security laws, to gain control over digital spaces and infrastructure.

Rights such as privacy have not yet been entrenched in the minds and actions of many citizens and yet citizens across the continent are using various technological services (email, social networking, banking etc.) every day, without adequate safeguards.

MISA is collaborating with Privacy International  to research and campaign for freedom of expression online. Through this partnership and others, we are striving to make the internet accessible, affordable and available to southern Africans and to help make it a safe platform for diverse views and free expression, where human rights are respected just as they should be in the offline media environment.