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Anonymous Speech

Literature, Law and Politics

By: Eric Barendt
Media of Anonymous Speech
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Published: 14-07-2016
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 200
ISBN: 9781849466134
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £30.00
Online price : £27.00
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Loren Epson

About Anonymous Speech

Anonymous Speech: Literature, Law and Politics discusses the different contexts in which people write anonymously or with the use of a pseudonym: novels and literary reviews, newspapers and political periodicals, graffiti, and now on the Internet. The book criticises the arguments made for a strong constitutional right to anonymous speech, though it agrees that there is a good case for anonymity in some circumstances, notably for whistle-blowing. One chapter examines the general treatment of anonymous speech and writing in English law, while another is devoted to the protection of journalists' sources, where the law upholds a freedom to communicate anonymously through the media. A separate chapter looks at anonymous Internet communication, particularly on social media, and analyses the difficulties faced by the victims of threats and defamatory allegations on the Net when the speaker has used a pseudonym. In its final chapter the book compares the universally accepted argument for the secret ballot with the more controversial case for anonymous speech.

This is the first comprehensive study of anonymous speech to examine critically the arguments for and against anonymity. These arguments were vigorously canvassed in the nineteenth century – largely in the context of literary reviewing – and are now of enormous importance for communication on the Internet.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The Varieties of Anonymous Writing
3. Anonymity and Freedom of Speech
4. Anonymous Speech in English Law
5. The Protection of Anonymous Sources
6. Anonymity on the Internet
7. Anonymous Speech, the Secret Ballot and Campaign Contributions


“I came away from reading Professor Barendt's book with a renewed optimism as to the values of anonymous
” –  Entertainment Law Journal, Jennifer Agate, Senior Associate, Foot Anstey

“Professor Barendt has once again presented us with the kind of book that we have become
accustomed to receive from him during his long career (...)The author is an
advocate of freedom of speech, more specifically, the kind of freedom of speech which serves the
interests of democratic society and which also cares for the interests of the audience of the speech
and, as such, is destined for eternal balancing.

” –  ANDRÁS KOLTAY, Pázmány Péter Catholic University (Budapest), International and Comparative Law Quarterly

“Should rights of free expression include anonymous speech? In our age of post-truth and internet trolls, Eric Barendt's brisk and engaging book raises timely questions ... As new electronic media continue to confront legislatures and courts with difficult problems of anonymity, this thought-provoking book illuminates the diversity and complexity of issues that will require attention into the foreseeable future.” –  Eric Heinze and Tom Hannant, The Modern Law Review

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