The study of Communication law has been nation specific for many years. However, freedom of speech, press, and censorship are different in different nations around the world, therefore creating different rules and laws in each nation. These different policies are carried out through the International Telecommunications Union, which looks at the rules relating to broadcasting around the world. Each country/nation has different policies, but the law has to differentiate how to pass the boundaries from country to country.
One example of these issues deals with freedom of expression. According to Rodney Smolla, freedom of expression in a nation relates to open culture and how the particular country will defend human expression and conscience, which protects freedom of speech, press, religion, association, and human endeavor. If one were to look at the United States and the policies within its borders, one would realize that this is how the United States deals with citizens and their rights. However, if one looks at the international level of freedom of expression, it varies from nation to nation.
Democracies in different parts of the world are not set up the same way as the United States. In the USA, expression can only be punished if injuries to people or property occur, libel or slander, fraud of advertising, copyright, and trademark take place. As Huffman and Trauth state, this laissez-faire attitude in America can be contrasted with Great Britain, Canada, India, Nigeria, and Germany. For example, in Germany there are very strict laws on extremist political speeches, which includes writing or broadcasting racial hatred and inhumane acts of violence. Other nations have also set up parameters on such expressions just as Germany has done. However, in the United States, it is still impossible for American citizens to conceive this occurring within their borders.
Another area of the law that affects the world deals with moral-religious censorship. The United States finds obscenity of language to be offensive and certain policies affect what citizens can say or do in public situations. If one looks at Germany, obscenity is not as central as it is in America. Sweden and Holland have hardly any laws that restrict obscenity and both have growing pornography industries. The same applies for Denmark, where adult pornography is not looked down on. In Italy, a general libel position presides for pornography. In most of these nations the obscenity laws are quite vague if there are any at all.
Some of the organizations and boards that affect international law include the World Intellectual Property Organization, World Trade Organization (WTO), INTELSAT, and the International Telecommunication Union. These organizations help to guide laws and policies over the world. In order to make sure that information is passed from nation to nation correctly, the International Telecommunication Union needs to be able to pre-screen the information and transfer the material around the world. The WTO sets the tariffs and trade laws for each nation and allows for proper trade from nation to nation. INTELSAT works with 143 nations and is a wholesaler for satellite communications and has the ability to link the world’s communication networks together. Without organizations like these, the world wouldn’t have as much information about the world and wouldn’t be able to be as informed as they are today.