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To preserve and protect the Internet as a forum for the uninhibited, robust, and wide-open exchange of ideas and information in the Americas, governments must take active steps to facilitate such free speech values. The relationship between governments and Internet service providers is of pre-eminent importance in this regard, as ISPs are in the position to be the facilitators of the free flow of information and ideas. On the one hand, ISPs should not be shackled with intermediary liability for hosting harmful content. On the other hand, ISPs should not be granted the discretion to restrict communications flowing through their pipes that they disfavor for one reason or another; rather, they should be subject to meaningful net neutrality regulations requiring them to facilitate all communications without discrimination or censorship. To encourage the free flow of information on the Internet, governments should also provide protections to Internet users to speak anonymously or pseudonymously. Such protections are integral to the right to speak critically in the political and civil realms, and should be preserved in the Internet age. Finally, governments themselves should not engage in censorship of Internet speech, consistent with our shared commitment in the Americas to forgo prior restraints on expression. However, if countries do engage in any filtering of unlawful Internet content – as many countries throughout the world are now doing – they should ensure that such state-mandated filtering systems adhere to the most speech-protective procedures and sensitive tools for distinguishing between protected and unprotected speech.

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GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2017-45; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-45

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