As she delivered the keynote speech at this year’s AALL conference, legal journalist Dahlia Lithwick urged attendees to ponder how rapid developments in technology have changed the way Americans view the concept of free speech, and where, and how stringently, limits on it should be applied.

“Technology is changing the lines” of free speech, asserted Lithwick, a senior editor at Slate who also writes for Newsweek.

An oft-cited example of a currently accepted limitation on free speech is the proverbial person yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But with the advent of the Internet and the ubiquity of social media, Lithwick said that some now question if “the crowded theater is the world.”

The law has not yet caught up with technology, she said.

It’ll no doubt be an interesting story to follow as these legal issues are debated and sorted out in the coming years.

If you missed Lithwick’s speech, view it here.

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