Even if a government claims to respect "freedom of speech," are there any topics that can be prohibited from publication?

Examples might be Uncle Fester books or WikiLeaks.

  • Initially posted at Open Source SE, but it's off-topic there.
    – kenorb
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 13:55
  • 1
    Is your question not answered by en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exceptions ? (I'm not aware of any large country that has a more liberal interpretation of the right.)
    – feetwet
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 21:55
  • @feetwet Sounds like it does, assuming similar list is working for other First World countries.
    – kenorb
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


What a country claims to be the case certainly doesn't guarantee what is the case. The constitution (at least as of 2012) of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (aka North Korea) says:

Article 67. Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, the press, assembly, demonstration and association. The State shall guarantee the conditions for the free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations.

Needless to say, North Korea is not generally considered a bastion of free speech. The People's Republic of China has a similar provision in its constitution.

When we get to countries where those outside the country consider there to be some level of freedom of speech, there are still restrictions. In the UK, the Official Secrets Act makes it a crime for any person to republish leaked classified information. Germany makes it illegal to deny that the Holocaust happened. Until 2013, Canada made it illegal for a person to use telecommunications to say something that would expose people to hatred for some reason covered by antidiscrimination law. Many, many countries criminalize child pornography. Many, many countries have copyright laws.

"Free speech" does not mean "you can say whatever you want and the government can't stop you." It means "as a general rule, the government can't restrict what you're saying because they don't like it." I am unaware of any country with a functional government with unfettered freedom of speech.

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