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Freedom of Expression

Global Campus of Human Rights via Independent


This course offers an overview of the main challenges in the protection of what can be considered a cornerstone of European democracies: freedom of expression. Taking the protection afforded by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention of Human Rights, the course will guide you through different facets of freedom of expression, showing you how far each citizen may exercise his right but also when the State may legitimately limit the possibility to speak out.

The course will consider the protection provided by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in comparison to the European Convention of Human Rights. The course will be complemented by presentations of a variety of cases sourcing from pan European and national courts inviting the learners to put on the judge’s hat and decide on the legal problems emerging from the presented case studies.

The course will address in detail the interplay between freedom of expression and Internet technologies, looking at the potential conflicts with other fundamental rights, such as dignity, data protection, and copyright.



Week 1 Introduction & State of Play: The Charter and Freedom of Expression in Europe
The first week of the course focuses on the basic construction of freedom of expression safeguards in Europe. It will present basic legal sources and permissible limitations to freedom of expression in the European Union context.

Week 2 Freedom of Expression Online (Combatting Illegal Content and Fake News)
In Week 2 of the course, we will focus on challenges related to regulating freedom of expression online and the role of third parties (Internet service providers) in the process. Regulation of illegal content and fake news will be the focus of our considerations.

Week 3 Hate Speech
During Week 3, we will focus on one unwanted form of freedom of expression: hate speech. We will focus on its main manifestations and explore the challenges relating to the multiple legal sources.

Week 4 Freedom of expression and conflicting rights
In the course of Week 4, we will focus on rights which the courts balance with freedom of expression. We will look closer at conflicts between freedom of expression and data protection and tensions produced by defamation.

Week 5 Challenges
During Week 5 with the use of the examples of case law we will explore further challenges that have to be faced with regard to freedom of expression. We will focus in particular on the changing nature of media and journalism and the increasing shadow of AI cast over human, predominantly online, interactions.


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