What does free speech mean for us?

In a world shaped by tech, free speech faces new challenges. Explore what this right means for us in the digital age.

Free speech has been a topic of fiery debate for centuries. Every new tech revolution sparks new conversations around free speech. Today, as real-time connectivity, cloud computing, and AI coalesce into a boundless tech ecosystem, free speech is more important than ever. 

Why is free speech a matter of such pressing concern? 

According to Gartner, 57% of CIOs claimed that political polarization was a “top 3” challenge, and 41% claimed that geopolitical and cultural power shifts were equally damaging. While technology may connect, it doesn’t always unite, and this triggers and exacerbates myriad forms of division and complexity. 

On the one hand, individuals and businesses can benefit from the wellspring of exciting new tech. On the other, technology is the ultimate disruptor, and free speech is one of many rights and freedoms that people knowingly or unknowingly sacrifice. 

To many, anything that threatens free speech is a profound and existential threat. To make better IT decisions and protect their customers and data, businesses must know about how new technologies impact free speech.

How do modern technology trends impact free speech?

Inconsistencies in laws across borders

The increased adoption of cloud computing means that organizations warehouse customer data across borders, sometimes in nations with significantly different data privacy and management laws. Since businesses and customers don’t know how those nations manage their information and opinions, it can potentially create some tension.

Power in the hands of private companies

Customer data is an invaluable asset for private enterprises. However, the disproportionate power held by these enterprises can be disconcerting. These enterprises have significant authority over what people can express online and control the storage, management, mediation, and disposal of these expressions.

The ethical challenges of AI

Amongst a litany of AI challenges, free speech stands out. Businesses design and deploy AI applications at scale, and many of these applications have built-in rules to prevent, restrict, censor, or edit certain kinds of speech. Businesses establish these rules to prevent hate speech or profanity. However, many believe that this is still a form of censorship.

Importance of anonymity

In many nations, anonymity is an essential human right. Freedom of expression should never come hand-in-hand with the fear of retaliation or public humiliation. Today, new technologies transcend geopolitical borders, and certain legal crossovers can compromise the right to expression with anonymity.

State surveillance

Individual expression and state interference are a dangerous combination, and technologies like cloud computing can be a radical catalyst. If businesses port the expressions of European citizens and residents to US-based cloud infrastructure, it activates American law. This means that US law enforcement can access sensitive data if they deem it to be a threat.


As we mine deeper to discover the potential of digital technologies, we face complexities like censorship. The primary issue with censorship is that online platforms, especially those owned by private organizations and governments, can control what people can say, share, and listen to. 

Data safety

Customers provide enterprises with sensitive information and data, trusting that digital fortifications can prevent data breaches and data leaks from occurring. However, according to The Independent, almost 365 million people suffered from compromised data in 2023. Furthermore, in some countries, there are no protections against publishing leaked or stolen data, which overrides fundamental rights to data privacy and freedom of expression with anonymity.

How Swiss cloud hosting can mitigate tech-driven free speech challenges

Here’s how Swiss cloud hosting can ensure that technology-driven initiatives don’t come with free speech trade-offs.  

  1. Right to Freedom of Speech: Under Article 16 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, every person has the guaranteed right to expression and information. However, Switzerland doesn’t tolerate hate speech that may incite violence. 
  2. Robust Data Protection: Switzerland's Data Protection Act (DPA) and Article 13 of the constitution ensure the privacy and security of all data.
  3. Encryption Solutions: Swiss-based servers and a litany of encryption levels and methods can help businesses secure their static and in-transit data.
  4. Impenetrable Cloud Infrastructure: Since Switzerland isn’t a member state of the EU, Swiss cloud servers abide by very unique, specific, and strict data protection laws.
  5. Strong International Relations: With a strong reputation and healthy relations with other nations, Switzerland is unlikely to face major geopolitical challenges or instability. 
  6. IP Address Protection: By securing IP addresses, Swiss laws ensure that external entities will not be able to access, manipulate, or leverage the opinions, identities, and locations of people for malicious purposes. 
  7. Right to Free Press: By providing reporters and members of the press with freedom and security, Switzerland prioritizes visibility, accountability, and freedom of expression. 
  8. Cybersecurity Stronghold: In a world where cyberattacks devastate businesses at unimaginable rates, cybersecurity leaders like Switzerland are the ideal IT base for businesses. 
  9. Tech Sovereignty: As globalization morphs into its newest avatars, businesses and their customers can benefit from tech and data laws that focus on the welfare, safety, and success of all, and not just a select few.  

The future of free speech and technology

As technologies continue to shape our world in profound ways, free speech challenges like inconsistent laws, skewered power dynamics, ethics of AI, anonymity, state surveillance, hate speech, censorship, and data privacy proliferate. Increasingly, businesses are trying to find ways to strike the perfect balance between the promises of new technologies and the non-negotiable rights of people, such as free speech. 

Switzerland is an unparalleled location for cloud infrastructure. With unique data protection laws, robust cybersecurity infrastructure, and powerful international relations, it can help businesses protect freedom of expression without losing out on the transformative powers of modern technology.

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