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Censorship Of The Internet Essay, Research Paper

Thesis: Censorship of the Internet, because it limits free speech and

economic freedom, is unconstitutional

Although the Internet was created in the 1960s as a communications tool for the U.S. military to withstand a severe nuclear war and still be operable, until the government opened it up to public use in the late 1980s. The Internet became a unique communications phenomenon. Nobody could predict the speed which people all over connected the world on to this new form of technological communication. In 1995, there were about 56 million Internet users worldwide; by 1999 there were over 200 million. However, this availability and technology has some individuals and Governments worried. Censorship of the Internet, because it limits free speech and economic freedom, is unconstitutional.

Many people do not understand the Internet and its power over the world. The Internet was originally a place for people to freely express their ideas worldwide. It is also one of America’s most valuable types of technology; scientists use email for quick and easy communication. They post their current scientific discoveries on the Internet so other scientists in the same field of study all over the world can know in minutes.

(Sterling, Bruce page 119 )The Internet is an extraordinary learning and entertainment tool that is offered worldwide. The Internet isn’t just another invention, but a way of life. There are so many things you can do on the Internet. You can send mail, exchange stocks, buy products, express your self, communicate, and hundreds of other possibilities. The Internet not only a learning tool, but you can also make a living. The Internet promotes economic opportunities, where you can make a source of income. It is a place where you can sell anything and advertise anything that is legal. From a economic standpoint we call it a free enterprise. With the success of the Internet, people market goods that are illegal in this country. That is why we have to set regulations.

The Internet today has made what we call the 90’s. It is another way of self-expression. The Internet offers what they call web pages. Users of the Internet create the web pages. These web pages are free and anyone can view them. These pages consist of everything and anything you can think of. These web pages can be personal, convenient and yet, distressing. If web pages are censored because of its content; that will limit freedom of speech and therefore it is unconstitutional. The Internet is a great method of communication and a source of information that is becoming more popular among those who are interested and have the time to surf the information superhighway. The problem with this amount of abundant information being accessible to this many people is that some of it is deemed inappropriate for minors. The government wants censorship, but a portion of the population does not.

The Communications Decency Act is an amendment, which prevents the information superhighway from becoming a computer “red light district.” On June 14, 1995, by a vote of 84-16, the United States Senate passed the amendment. It is now being brought through the House of Representatives.

( Friedrich, Garth www.usc.edu/ucs.users/networker/95-96/jan_feb_96/feature.censorship.html) The Internet is owned and operated by the government, which gives them the obligation to restrict the materials available through it and on it. The United States Government owns the Internet and has the responsibility to determine who uses it and how it is used. The government must control what information is accessible but they have to be very careful when the constitution comes in.

Government Censorship would damage the atmosphere of the freedom to express ideas on the Internet; therefore, government should not encourage censorship.(Bruner, Ryan www.vic.com/ garyd/decency._html ) If censorship is in effect it will put the world wide web to a disadvantage. Regulations or are what we need. The meaning of “Censoring the Net” must be explained. However, many experts have pointed out that government censorship is not possible. First, it is not fair to exclude the freedom and damage the atmosphere of freely expressing ideas just for the safety of children. Most Internet users are enjoying their freedom of speech on the Net, which is supposed to be protected by our First Amendment. In addition, only a very small portion of the Net contains offensive material, most people do not use the Net for pornography. If you censor pornography it limits economic freedom. While people are concerned about Internet pornography, it should be recognized that pornography is sometimes legal; for example, pornography is legal in video and magazines.

I feel that government must take control to prevent certain pornographers from using the Internet. Cyberpunks, those who are excessively associated with the Internet, are members of a rebellious society that are polluting the information super highway with pornography, racism, and other forms of explicit information. Simply, it is the banning of offensive material. To see if the governments should censor the Net, it is imperative to list the advantages and disadvantages of the “censor the Net” approach. The advantage of government censorship is that ideally, children and teenagers could be kept away from unsuitable material.( Philip, Elmer-Derwitt. Time Life July 95) There are many alternative measures to government censorship, which would prevent misuse of the Net and would have the same effects as censorship. It is very important for parents to provide moral guidance for their children, and parents should have this responsibility. However, at the same time as we carry out moral guidance. “Flexibility of interactive media…enables parents to control what content their kids have access to, and leaves the flow of information free for those adults who want it.”(Allison, L., and R. Baxter www.cs.monash.edu.au / lloyd/tilde/internet /innocent/1995.224.htm) We have to come out with some other approaches to solve the problem in a more efficient way. In addition, commercial Internet service providers, such as “America Online”, allow parents to control what Internet access are available to their children. There are no computer programs to automatically censor materials; only people can do it. The combination of the installation of censoring software and the classification of materials is a much better solution than government censorship.

The Internet is a wonderful place of entertainment and education but like all places used by millions of people, it has some explicit corners people would prefer children not to explore. “In the physical world society as a whole conspires to protect children, but there are no social or physical constraints to Internet surfing. (Rheingold,Howard. www.well.com/user/hlr/tomorro/96/jan_feb_96) Any type of censoring

on the Internet is unconstitutional because everything on the net comes down to the first amendment; the freedom of speech. Laws that make up this country should not broken or contradicted by any power. Regulations should start in the home not with the government.


Bruner, Ryan “why there is nothing wrong with the communications Decency Act” (April 22, 1996)

www.vic.com/ garyd/decency ._html

Sterling, Bruce “Short History of the Internet”

from the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Febuary,1993

Friedrich, Garthm “censorship of the internet”



Allison, L., and R. Baxter. Protecting Our Innocents.

www.cs.monash.edu.au / lloyd/tilde/internet /innocent/1995.224.htm)

Philip, Elmer-Derwitt. “Porn on the Internet.” Time 3 July 1995:

Rheingold, Howard. Rheingold’s Tomorrow: Why Censoring Cyberspace is Dangerous & Futile.


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