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Censorship On The Internet Essay

3158 words - 13 pages

During the past decade, our society has become based solely on the ability
to move large amounts of information across large distances quickly.
Computerization has
influenced everyone's life. The natural evolution of computers and this need
for
ultra-fast communications has caused a global network of interconnected
computers
to develop. This global net allows a person to send E-mail across the world
in mere
fractions of a second, and enables even the common person to access
information
world-wide. With advances such as software that allows users with a sound
card to
use the Internet as a carrier for long distance voice calls and video
conferencing, this
network is key to the future ...view middle of the document...

Censorship of the Internet
threatens to
destroy its freelance atmosphere, while wide spread encryption could help
prevent
the need for government intervention.

The current body of laws existing today in America does not apply well to
the
Internet. Is the Internet like a bookstore, where servers cannot be expected
to
review every title? Is it like a phone company who must ignore what it
carries
because of privacy? Is it like a broadcasting medium, where the government
monitors what is broadcast? The trouble is that the Internet can be all or
none of
these things depending on how it's used. The Internet cannot be viewed as
one
type of transfer medium under current broadcast definitions.

The Internet differs from broadcasting media in that one cannot just happen
upon a
vulgar site without first entering a complicated address, or following a
link from
another source. "The Internet is much more like going into a book store and
choosing to look at adult magazines." (Miller 75).

Jim Exon, a democratic senator from Nebraska, wants to pass a decency bill
regulating the Internet. If the bill passes, certain commercial servers that
post
pictures of unclad beings, like those run by Penthouse or Playboy, would of
course
be shut down immediately or risk prosecution. The same goes for any amateur
web site that features nudity, sex talk, or rough language. Posting any
dirty words
in a Usenet discussion group, which occurs routinely, could make one liable
for a
$50,000 fine and six months in jail. Even worse, if a magazine that commonly
runs
some of those nasty words in its pages, The New Yorker for instance, decided
to
post its contents on-line, its leaders would be held responsible for a
$100,000 fine
and two years in jail. Why does it suddenly become illegal to post something
that
has been legal for years in print? Exon's bill apparently would also
"criminalize
private mail," ... "I can call my brother on the phone and say anything--but
if I say
it on the Internet, it's illegal" (Levy 53).

Congress, in their pursuit of regulations, seems to have overlooked the fact
that the
majority of the adult material on the Internet comes from overseas.
Although many
U.S. government sources helped fund Arpanet, the predecessor to the
Internet,
they no longer control it. Many of the new Internet technologies, including
the
World Wide Web, have come from overseas. There is no clear boundary between
information held in the U.S. and information stored in other countries. Data
held in
foreign computers is just as accessible as data in America, all it takes is
the click of
a mouse to access. Even if our government tried to regulate the Internet, we
have
no control over what is posted in other countries, and we have no practical
way to
stop it.

The Internet's predecessor was originally designed to uphold communications
after
a nuclear attack by rerouting data to compensate for destroyed telephone
lines and
servers....

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