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Seminar on Hate Speech and the Internet

NALSAR University of Law, in collaboration with the British Deputy High Commission Hyderabad, is inviting submissions for a two-day seminar on the theme "Hate Speech and the Internet".

Date: 4th - 5th January, 2014

The internet has long been hailed as the great democratiser, the one platform that gives all people (with internet access) the chance to express themselves. It has revolutionised communication in removing physical barriers, making the entire internet using population a potential audience, and in permitting anonymity. As it becomes possible for one to speak, and be heard by unprecedented numbers (including many who think alike), without needing to take responsibility for one's speech, issues of hate speech gain greater relevance.

Debates about the value of unregulated speech, for instance the classic faceoff between the concept of a marketplace of ideas against the functional damage that hate speech does, have acquired a new spin with the advent of the internet. Traditional understandings of causation, on questions like incitement, require reworking, with the internet being used to collaborate and build social movements, both progressive and violent. The very definition of 'hate speech' remains an open (and tricky) question, given that any regulation of speech on the internet brings up issues of surveillance and curbing dissent.

While the power of the internet to democratise knowledge production is undeniable, whether it presently fulfils any such ideal is questionable. The experiences of marginalised communities, both in terms of the sort of hate speech that has been directed towards them, as well as the manner in which they tap into the potential of the internet are essential towards any analysis of what sort of regulation (if any) is required.

The sheer bulk of information that passes through the internet every day, as well as the lack of any geographical boundaries makes any kind of regulation a herculean task. Definitions of hate speech, as well as tolerance towards hate speech, are radically different across various municipal jurisdictions. Additionally, the fact of anonymity makes the assignment of liability near impossible. Ought regimes move towards resolution of hate speech issues through innovative tort claims or is state action preferable? What is the nature of liability that can be assigned to a speech act that perhaps did not envision the effect it had? Numerous questions remain unanswered, in terms of concrete policy choices that are to be made.

This two-day seminar seeks to examine the layers of issues that arise when one discusses hate speech in the context of the internet, through conversations between people who have worked on various aspects of this issue, including leading jurists, lawyers, bloggers and activists who have embraced new technologies.

Proposed Sessions:

  1. Changing nature of hate speech: from traditional to social media
  2. The value in unregulated internet
  3. Marginalised communities and the experience of social media
  4. Internet a democratic space?
  5. Social movements and radicalisation online
  6. Responsibility and liability on the internet

These are subject to reorganisation based on papers received, in the interest of coherence.

Schedule:

Deadline for abstract submission:

20th October, 2013

Deadline for paper submission:

15th December, 2013

Seminar:

4th - 5th January, 2014

Submission Details:
Kindly send your abstracts to hatespeechnalsar@gmail.com by the said date. Any queries can also be addressed to this ID.

Contact:
NALSAR University of Law
Post Box No.1, NISA Hakimpet,
Justice City, Shameerpet,
Hyderabad, India
Email: hatespeechnalsar@gmail.com
Website: http://www.nalsar.ac.in

Download Call for Papers

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