Freedom Of Speech And The Internet
Essay, Research Paper
States of America was founded over two hundred years ago on the basis
of freedom. Freedoms, which were wrote into, and are yet a part of
the Constitution of the United States. Under the First Amendment of
the Constitution, many freedoms are granted to the citizens of this
great nation. Such freedoms as those of speech, religion, press,
petition, and assembly are granted to all free citizens. But, where
do our freedoms begin and end when it comes to the Internet? How can
a small group of individuals regulate an entity that is much larger
than its jurisdiction? Who is responsible for deciding what is
considered ?proper for viewing? to users? With so many regulations
and rules governing the Internet, what happened to that right granted
to us in the First Amendment? With all these rules and codes of
conduct, one begins to wonder if the First Amendment gives us the
freedoms it so justly states, or if we are just too ignorant to stand
up and fight for the rights granted to us by the Constitution
speech, on the Internet, has endured several battles throughout its
recent history. In 1997, the Supreme Court has once already ruled in
favor of freedom of speech in cyberspace. This ruling was in response
to charges, which were brought up to a federal judge, involving the
Communications Decency Act (CDA). The federal judge found for the
defendant, stating that the CDA was unconstitutional. After appealing
to the Supreme Court, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took
to the defense once again, fighting for the freedom of speech in the
matter at hand. With their primary defense centered on the First
Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional by a
majority vote. This landmark decision sets the stage for future
fights for the freedom of speech on and off of the Internet (Supreme
The Internet has
also been of controversy when it comes to monitoring or blocking
sites, which are deemed dangerous to minors. In another recent court
case, a public library offering public Internet access had blocking
software installed, restricting sites considered harmful to minors,
limiting perfectly good resources for more experienced and older
users. The Courts found that the software was limiting the freedom of
speech, by hindering resources that could be obtained without the
software, and forced the libraries to remove the software. This
ruling, also setting a standard for our perception of the freedom of
speech, was another landmark ruling involving the ACLU (Judge Sets).
Even though the
Supreme Court has made several rulings, and several lower courts are
standing up for the freedom of speech, our government politicians
tend to continually ignore the laws written in the Constitution.
Recently, Congress passed another act regulating the Internet. The
Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which would make any organization
or company, associated with doing business on the World Wide Web, to
make provisionary steps to keep minors from their site if it was
deemed harmful to minors. This act would also force Internet Service
Providers (ISP?s) into monitoring users WebPages and e-mail, which is
designed and trusted to be private. Also, sites that sell socially
unacceptable items, such as condoms, would have to place age
verification items on their sites, making it less appeasing to
customers. They would have little or no choice, for they would suffer
outrageous fines otherwise. COPA hinders the freedom of speech for
vendors, individuals, and others who rely on the Web on a regular
basis for information or supplies (Kinnersley 119).
trying to police the Internet, we need to consider monitoring our
children?s surfing habits. If parents are so worried about what their
children ramble onto online, maybe they should take a look at their
neglect and lack of attention. Parental guidance and teacher
supervision will defer children from improper sites. And Since the
Internet is designed for a world of people, good, bad, short, tall,
and of many different makes, who has the right to make a decision for
the entire world. If we start limiting the content of the Internet to
be suitable for our children, then what is the purpose of this vast
resource of information available to scholars and students alike?
With this being the beginning of the information age, limiting the
content of sites would not only decrease the quality of information,
but also hinder the growth of the Internet in years to come. We
should stop and consider the communicational value of the Internet as
it is today. Drawing people from opposite sides of the world together
into one medium that has no boundaries, restrictions, or limits, but
instead an environment designed to accommodate learning,
understanding, and free will. Yeah, some countries, like Iraq, are
blocking materials from their users, but they are only being deprived
of valuable resources, instead of being protected.
With our future
depending on the freedoms given to us by our Constitution, lets hope
that our government wakes up and realizes that regulation of this
freedom land called cyberspace, will be unsuccessful as long as our
Constitution and the First Amendment stands true. And, if the day
comes when we must stand up and fight for our freedoms, I do believe
that freedom will prevail, as long as we keep our minds and spirits
free, and fight for what we believe in. Our freedoms are a sacred
part of our lives. They have allowed us to develop a great society,
of which is based on the freedoms listed in the First Amendment of
the Constitution. Freedoms which need to be protected at all costs,
whether it be over-ruling a congressional act, or fighting for them
in war, we must preserve or rights to be free?
Highest Legal Hurdle For Using Blocking Software in Libraries.?
Union: n. pag. Online. Internet. Apr. 7, 1998. Available at
Hannah. ?Censorship Bill Could Cost Internet Service Providers
Feb. 1999: 119.
Rules: Cyberspace Will be Free! ACLU Hails Victory in Internet
Challenge.? American Civil Liberties Union: n. pag. Online. Internet.
June 26, 1997,
Available at http://www.aclu.org/news/n062697a.html
Continental Congress. The Declaration of Independence and The
the United States. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.
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