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Jakarta Post

Freedom of speech in era of ‘cheap speech’

  • Michelle Winowatan

New York City   /   Sat, May 26 2018   /  01:22 am

Twenty-three years ago, at the dawn of the internet, noted law professor Eugene Volokh wrote in Yale Law Journal, presciently predicting that with advanced technology, the transaction cost for voicing one’s opinion will become so low that everybody — ”rich and poor, popular and not, banal and avant-garde — will be able to make their work available to all”.

Reading Volokh’s exact words today is chilling, because the prophecy has become reality. A 2017 survey by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) shows that 82 percent of Indonesian internet users are low to low-middle income earners, echoing Volokh’s point about highly affordable costs.

Everyone connected to the internet can send out practically anything, from commercials to vacation photos to inspiring quotes to puppy videos to ideological propaganda.

But as cyberbullying has...