• Mr. Steven J. Muehler

Steve Muehler's Reform of "Freedom of Speech on the Internet"

Updated: Apr 23


Some fast facts about Freedom of Speech:

  1. Greek Philosopher Socrates, in 399 B.C., was persecuted for an early argument promoting Free Speech.

  2. Protection of Speech was first introduced when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.

  3. In 1633, Galileo Galilei was brought before the Inquisition for insisting that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth. His punishment was a lifetime of house arrest – a crime that would have been protected by Free Speech a century later.

  4. Freedom of Speech was established in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1791 along with Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press, and the Right to Assemble.

  5. In Schenck v. United States (1919), the Supreme Court invented the famous “Clear and Present Danger” test to determine when a state could constitutionally limit and individual’s Free Speech Rights under the First Amendment.

  6. In 1948, the UN recognized Free Speech as a Human Right in the International Declaration of Human Rights.

  7. In 1969 in Brandenburg v. Ohio, the court decided that Speech can be restricted if the speaker strives to provoke and “imminent” and “likely” violation of law.

  8. “Hate Speech” (speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits) is protected in the United States by the First Amendment.

  9. 70% of Americans agreed that people should have the right to Free Speech, even if their words are highly offensive.

  10. As a result of Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, students retain their right to Free Speech during school hours.

  11. Obscenity – most often pornography – has posed a problem for judges defining what exactly is “too obscene” to be protected by the First Amendment. In 1973, the Miller test was established after Miller v. California, which now used to define obscenity.


All the above eleven points were established PRIOR to the advent of the household computer and the Internet.


Under my new policy / Amendment to Freedom of Speech, there would be a complete elimination of “Internet Screen Names” that allow individuals to post statements on the internet without revealing the publisher’s true identity. Real People with Real Identities will still be allowed to post on internet sites, but the true identity of the publisher will be required to be verified by the website, and that individual’s identity will be required to be published along with the statements.


Verification of an individual’s identity will be as simple as a finger print or a retina scan, my iPhone can already verify my identity with my simple finger print, and retina scan technology and facial recognition technology are both moving into the mainstream. All online sites that allow public comment will be required to verify a publisher’s identity.


Freedom of Speech is only free when the words being spoken or written are owned by that person who writes or says them. People hiding behind anonymous screen names have been slandering people’s (and businesses') reputations for years, and both the publisher who writes these comments, and the websites who allow the publishing of this material, have been hiding behind Freedom of Speech for far too long.


Freedom of Speech Comes with Great Responsibility. I am sure that when our Founding Fathers ratified Freedom of Speech, they never envisioned a day when Americans would be using false identities and screen names to make statements (true or untrue) for others to see, without attaching their true identity to their words, and publishing slanderous information about a company, or an individual, without proper recourse to the slandered person or business (whether civil or criminal).


Under my plan, anyone making any review / comment / statement online under a false identity, or a screen name, would be subject to either criminal or civil prosecution, depending on the severity of the comment(s). Also, online sites would be required to implement identification verification technology as stated above, and would be required to immediately remove any comments from a non-verified individual.


All sites, would be given nine calendar months to contact all persons who have made comments or statements on their website(s) in the previous ten years, and allow those persons to attach their true identity to the statements they published on that website. If the owner of speech attaches their true identity to the statement, the website will be allowed to keep the statement published on their website. Should the owner refuse to publish their true and verified identity to the online statement, the website will be required to delete the statement. Any unverified statements left after the nine months will subject the website’s owner to possible civil and/or criminal proceedings.


I am not attempting to restrict legitimate free speech, and I believe that the Internet is an important medium for dissemination of ACCURATE AND TRUTHFUL information for fair comment on issues of interest, but the speech has to be from a verified individual, and that speech as published needs to be from a verified individual whose identity is published along with their words.


Again, this is just an opinion with broadstrokes, and there would need to be people more educated than me to define the finer points, but from a "Common Sense" standpoint, this seems to be a program that makes that most sense for both sides of the issue.


Steve Muehler is the Founder & Managing Member of the Private Placement Markets:

About Mr. Steve Muehler, Founder & Senior Managing Member:

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