begin researching topics related to free speech that you may write about for the remainder of the quarter. For this assignment you will choose 3 possible topics, familiarize yourself with the political, economic, legal, and moral debates that surround the topics, and perform some preliminary research in which you locate a few sources that might help in furthering your expertise on these topics.Step 1: Choose 3 topics related to Free Speech and the 1st Amendment. You may locate these topics using the following methods:Peruse the Introduction to Topic ListPerform a Google search using primary key terms like “1st Amendment” and “Free Speech” and secondary terms like “controversy,” “debate,” “internet,” “international,” “social media,” “university,” etc.Peruse the 1st Amendment Center’s (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (https://www.freedomforuminstitute.org/first-amendm…)list of topicsStep 2: Once you’ve found 3 topics that interest you, find 3 sources for EACH topic that will help you understand the topic better. Try to find as many different kinds of sources as possible. You can use newspapers, blogs, videos, radio interviews, online encyclopedias, government sources, political advocacy sources, legal documents, etc.Step 3: For each topic, write a 250-500 word summary of the topic (be prepared to read these out loud to the class). Your summary might answer the following questions:What are the different sides of this debate?Who does this issue effect?Why is this issue pressing, relevant, or in need of a solution?What are the political dimensions of this issue? Legal? Economic? Cultural? Moral?What is a specific and current occasion/warrant that highlights why this issue is a problem?What are your own initial thoughts on this issue?After each summary, provide a Works Cited that includes entries for your 3 sources.
39c_topic_list_revised.docx

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Introduction to the Topic List
The following list of potential choices of topic for your research project is based on previous student projects.
Before settling on a topic, you need to do some initial searches in both popular search engines (Google) and in
academic search engines (like JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, ANTPAC, etc.). If you have trouble
finding good results on your first search or two, that might be a bad sign. Likewise, if what you’re reading
doesn’t interest you, then move on to something else. You need to be fully engaged in your topic for you to
write well about it. Changing topics in the first week or two of the quarter is possible, but gets more and more
difficult with each passing class, and becomes untenable by week 3. Early searching for viable sources can help
you avoid that difficult situation. The words in bold in the items below are good initial search terms, but there
may be many more alternatives that could yield good results.
Topics which students have chosen in the past (no guarantee of practicality/success):
o Net Neutrality – the internet as a privately owned public utility and its vulnerability to monopoly,
censorship, anti-competition, and anti-free-speech actions from private parties that control its flows of
information; economic incentives for monopolistic ISPs (cable providers) to hurt electronic distribution
of television (which is a market they also compete in) and other anti-competitive practices (aka why you
might have to pay a bunch for Netflix in the future and why Time Warner is one of the most hated
companies in the country)
o Privacy in Technology –
o Government electronic surveillance – PRISM / NSA (and the Patriot Act) and public
discussion of privacy in the U.S. and government electronic surveillance of citizens and internet
in general (aka your phone calls, texts, and emails are all on a government server somewhere)
o Commercial use of personal data by companies like Google and Facebook, exposure to data
theft, what is considered private when shared through social media, etc. (aka Google reads your
emails)
o The Right to be Forgotten – the ownership of data about yourself, how long a company can
hold on to information about you, etc, and the recent ruling in European courts mandating that
Google honor requests by citizens that it ‘forget’ data about them (aka when you delete things on
Facebook they only disappear from public view – facebook still has all of it)
o Online Pornography – Regulation of online pornography as an industry (esp. public health and
psychological effects of ubiquitous pornography, especially on youth)
o Child pornography and the difficulty of defining and censoring harmful sexual practices while
maintaining an open and free web (subtopics include sexting, “jailbait,” and “revenge porn”)
o Abusive/deviant pornography and media forms that don’t conform to normative sexual
standards (things like simulated “rape porn,” beastiality, BDSM)
o Social Media
o Cyber Bullying and the need to protect students/minors from online harrasment
o Social Media and Broadcast Media / News – Integration of Twitter (and other social media)
into news broadcasting (and how it is changing the way news is reported). What does “the press”
mean in a modern world? And who is protected by the 1st Amendment?
o Viral misinformation – the role of the internet in destabilizing awareness and certainty of facts,
science, news, etc. (e.g. vaccinations, conspiracy theories, the difficulty of finding trusted
information during times of crisis)
o Cyber Security – defense of technological infrastructure, role of government in requiring private
companies to secure data in public interest, government attacks on foreign countries (Iran StuxNet,
Chinese hacking units)
o Internet Economics – effects of internet commerce on national economy, economic growth, knowledge
work, outsourcing, digital distribution
o Open Source Software – as an economic model, issues of copyright and trademark infringement
o Intellectual Property in digital distribution – piracy control, issues of copyright and trademark
infringement, SOPA, PIPA (aka how did you watch Game of Thrones this season?)
o
o
o
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o Cryptocurrency – (bitcoins) and their implications for free market economies
3D Printing – potential social and economic consequences of mass customized fabrication, especially
regulatory and unforeseen; for example 3D printable guns and the 2nd amendment and gun control
“Deep Web” regulation – the regulation of web and internet sectors outside mainstream use
Hacktivism – The role of the internet (specifically social media) in the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil
War, use as a tool for export of political revolution, and protest in political sphere in Iran
Internet (and social media) censorship in China or Russia [and the opposite … internet and social
media as a means of political dissent in China or Russia]
Free Speech topics outside of the net:
o Campus speech codes and how to balance free expression with goals of creating “safe” and effective
learning environments
o Hate speech and the regulation of Greek organizations and other school affiliated institutions
like student newspapers and satirical media
o Speech inside the classroom (trigger warnings and campus “safe” spaces)
o Speech outside the classroom from professors, students, and campus affiliates (can a student be
suspended for a racist tweet?)
o Regulating visiting speakers and public spaces (heckler’s veto)
o Public Employees and the regulation of speech
o Whistleblower protections and the right of the press to lend voice to whistleblowers (see
Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning cases)
o Social Media for Public Employees (do cops, public school teachers, politicians, have the right
to say whatever they want on Social Media)
o Religion and Speech – the right to practice religious ceremonies in public, dress codes, the right for
religious people to NOT speak, i.e. not contribute money or pay taxes to support services they oppose
o Speech that is critical of religion
o Speech that may contribute to violence or breed intolerance
o Freedom of Assembly – funeral protests, abortion protests and buffer zones, curfews, and loitering laws
o Advertisements and media – bans on cigarette/tobacco ads, telemarketing, FDA labeling etc.

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