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Corporate Control of Information: Business and the Freedom of Expression



Control over information is essential to business. This has become increasingly true in an era in which technological advances have enabled the rapid globalization of business. This article explores the implications of this control of information for freedom of speech and information. Four different situations are considered: censorship of the Internet by search engines albeit at the direction of a government; restrictions on Internet content by Internet Services Providers acting on their own; decisions by retail businesses not to sell various DVDs, CDs, etc. to their customers; and legal suits brought against individuals and groups by businesses seeking to prevent the further spread of information they deem injurious to their products or activities. The paper seeks to sort out the various rights and values involved in these cases, when a business may be justifiably said to be violating individuals' rights to freedom of information, and when customers and citizens do not have justified complaints against business decisions not to provide them with certain information products.