I got a heads up from Jarice Hanson (participant bio page), a chairperson at Temple University's (my alma mater, BTW) School of Communication and Theater regarding a webconference at WHYY titled Digital Democracy and Freedom of Speech.
The event looks quite interesting, and it is scheduled at a most-convenient time, 1-2:30pm on Tuesday, 10/9/2007, at the WHYY building, especially for those in the Center City (Philadelphia) area.
To quickly riff on the subject, I understand and expect this conference to have a very US-centric focus, but I suspect conversations regarding digital freedom, at least as we Americans understand Freedom of Speech as enumerated in the First Ammendment (or don't, as the case may be), will most likely affect other nations, such as those in the Middle East and China, where excessive blocking and monitoring, often aided and abetted by prominent US companies such as Yahoo are the norm.
The excessive use of national security exemptions in FOIA, the circumvention of records-keeping and civil liberty safeguards, and others are all blatant attempts to stymie freedom of the press, but what of freedom of speech? Despite isolated (although far too many) examples of abuses, such as the recent tasing at a John Kerry speech, "Free Speech Zones" at political gatherings, and arrests and detainings based on what t-shirt one wears, I see little formalized institutional censorship, although we're getting there.
That said, there are tremendous threats to digital freedom here in the US, but they often don't come from the government directly to the individual speaker. No, they come indirectly, via the corporate sphere, the establishment press, intra-governmental agency suppression , other opinion influencers, ideological bullies, our society-at-large, and our own tendencies to self-censor. In most cases, all it takes is the threat of a libel suit or a DMCA takedown letter to pull content, either by the creator or their ISP. As illustrated in the Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Guide, many of the concerns of online speech have little to do with the government. You can't really say whatever you want.