General Question

iCeskate's avatar

Do people have the right to free speech in an e-mail?

Asked by iCeskate (451points) May 28th, 2008 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

17 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

Of course. Why wouldn’t they?

Seesul's avatar

Not if they are from a country that doesn’t allow it.

Michael's avatar

I want to complicate chuck’s answer a bit. Unlike other written words, e-mail is sent out over lines that are owned and operated by a private company. As such, if they were so inclined, I believe a service provider could terminate your service on any grounds it wishes, including offensive speech in an e-mail. Now that would mean that the company is monitoring your electronic mail, which they say they don’t do (and we have no reason not to believe them). But for the sake of argument, I don’t believe there would be anything strictly illegal about an ISP reading what you write and then refusing you service because of it.

Does that circumstance constitute an infringement on your right to free speech? I’m not sure. A bit, maybe, especially if, as is the case in some areas, there aren’t many ISPs to choose from.

crunchaweezy's avatar

I don’t know, does Nigeria allow free speech? That is the question.

AstroChuck's avatar

That being said, you can still put whatever the hell you want into your email. At least in this country, you can.

sndfreQ's avatar

In America, you can say whatever you want, except realize that as Michael mentions above, anything you say is subject to the terms of service for your ISP, as well as the ISP of the intended recipient(s) of the email. Also, if applicable, our government can screen communications they deem as “suspicious” if they contain language or keywords that may raise a flag, under the terms of the Patriot Act. Thank your congressman and senator, and GW for that one…

marinelife's avatar

One thing people have not talked about here is if the email originated from your work computer. In that case, you do not have either privacy or free speech rights.


You ISP can censor but you can still write whatever you wish.

sndfreQ's avatar

@Marina-yes! Most employers have appropriate use guidelines for their systems; also, on another note, remember that anyone can forward email at the click of a mouse-even by accident. Always be careful about what you say, attach, and link to in your emails…especially if your workplace enforces harassment policies.

marinelife's avatar

@BASEBALLISLIFE Two things: 1) You can write whatever you want, but your employer can fire your ass for whatever they want since most employment is at will. and 2) Tampa Bay best record in baseball!

AstroChuck's avatar

Free speech at work and free speech in your personal life are two different things. You still have the legal right to put what you want in an email (provided you aren’t inciting a riot, planning overthrowing the government, gag orders, non disclosure contracts, etc.), but at work it might lead to unemployment.

crunchaweezy's avatar

@ AstroChuck

Well I happen to run my own company (very succesful) so I should be in the safe zone, no? lol

ebenezer's avatar

since when is anyone monitoring personal emails in the US? Besides George B I mean.

wildflower's avatar

You have as much free speech in email as any other form of communication (so it does depend on the country as well as in which capacity you’re communicating), but you should always remember that an email is written and once sent, can be forwarded, re-posted, printed, etc.

iCeskate's avatar

Uhhh….. Does this mean yes or no?

marinelife's avatar

It means yes, with all of the asterisks above. Because it is written and out of your control once you send it, you need to be careful it does not come back to haunt you with bad consequences.

iCeskate's avatar

I was taking a computer test at school and that was a question and I
jist wanted to know

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