Crime-Facilitating Speech


Eugene Volokh


Many recent free speech controversies -- over Patriot Act subpoenas, contract murder manuals, encryption and decryption algorithms, contributory copyright infringement, publication of abortion providers’ names, discussions of gaps in security systems, certain kinds of invasion of privacy lawsuits, online term paper mills, and more -- turn out to be special cases of a general problem: Should there be a new First Amendment exception for speech that gives criminals information that can help them commit crimes? And, if so, how broad or narrow should this exception be?

Surprisingly, scholars have almost entirely ignored these broad questions, and the Supreme Court has never squarely confronted them either in their general form or in their specific applications. This article tries to provide a detailed treatment of the subject.


Constitutional Law

Date of this Version

September 2004