Attorney Bob Corn-Revere on censorship: the ‘bastard child of technology’

March 23, 2017

New technologies and the censorship instinct seem to go hand-in-hand. From the first days of the printing press, to the rise of radio and the telephone, to the advent of the internet, innovations in mass communication are often followed by a fear of what will happen if these novelties are left unrestricted or uncensored.

On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we talk with former Federal Communications Commission chief counsel and current Davis Wright Tremaine partner Bob Corn-Revere about what it means for censorship to be the “bastard child of technology.”

We explore controversies surrounding Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” the Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, and more. We then venture to guess what advances in artificial intelligence and virtual reality might spell for free speech advocates.

Specializing in First Amendment law and information technology and media law, Corn-Revere has litigated some of the highest-profile cases concerning the regulation of new communication technologies, including United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group (2000), in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 because they violated the First Amendment.

Corn-Revere and his Davis Wright Tremaine colleagues also represent students and faculty members as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

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