Censorship as defined in the United States refers to the government’s prior restriction, limitation, or filtering of information or ideas in speech and various forms of mass media, such as newspapers and broadcasting and other electronic media, including the Internet. The framers of the U.S. Constitution reacted to British sedition, criminal libel, and blasphemy law. The common law interpretation that there shall be no prior restraints, however, left centuries of American interpretation.

Historically, censorship has been a valuable tool for repressive forms of totalitarian government that do not value or allow freedom of speech, expression, or religion, let alone free news media. Under such conditions, draconian censorship often follows a desire to control the public. For example, a government official or agency may have responsibility for ...

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