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Censoring the Internet


Should the Internet be censored? Many people think so.
There is a lot of talking and arguing over, should the
Internet be censored? Many people who sign on-line and use
the Internet are furious about the censoring. Most of the
users feel that it is denying the first amendment rights of
free speech, and is unconstitutional (CDT Policy Post 1).
But parents, Congress, and the legislature feel that minors
are getting indecent and illegal material (CDT Policy Post
1). Bill Clinton signed a decency act which has new
regulated laws for the Internet. The house past a vote
414-16 and the senate voted 91-5 for the act (CDT Policy
Post 1).The decency act states, "it will impose a $250,000
fine and prison terms for anyone who posts indecent
material, including the "7 dirty words", the text of
classic works such as The Catcher in the Rye or Ulysses,
artwork containing images of nudes, or rap lyrics, in a
public forum (CDT Policy Post 1). On December 12th, it was
the Internet's Day of Protest (VTW 1). Once the Internet
users found out that it may be censored they went ballistic
. They got the number of the Congressional staff members
and left their thoughts in messages and e-mail (VTW). There
was well over 50,0000 phone calls, faxes in one day (VTW 1)
. At Senator Exon's office the fax machines were backed up
because he was the one who initially pushed forward to
censor the Internet (VTW 1). The Internet users are saying
it's free speech (Dickerson) 1. "Free speech, even indecent
speech, is guaranteed by the First Amendment" (Dickerson
1). The right of Americans to say and write what they
please, in whatever way they please, has been affirmed by a
long series of judicial decisions (Dickerson 1). This
protest shows how strongly people who use the Internet
feel. They feel that any censorship of the Internet is a
violation of their 1st Amendment rights. The first
amendment states that ..Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances (Constitution: Article 1 ). One group the CDT
(Center for Democracy and Technology) has realized a
statement that clearly shows this side of the argument. "We
[CDT] believe the bill threatens the very existence of the
Internet as a means for free expression, education, and
political discourse. The bill [Indecency Bill] is an
unwarranted, unconstitutional intrusion by the Federal
Government into the private lives of all Americans (CDT
Policy Post 1). This is a very strong argument and the CDT
along with many other Internet groups plan to fight for
their rights in the courts. While these Internet groups
have some good points, the other side of the issue is also
very important. There is much unsuitable information on the
Internet that younger users can get there. For example,
they can get how to grow marijuana, how to sell it, where
to buy it, how to increase it's potency. Young people can
also get a lot of pornography and cyberporn. This is why
there are so many parents, teachers and adults complaining
about the easy access to the pornography (Elmer-Dewiti 1).
US Senator, Nebraska Democrat, James Exon is the real
person who wants to put cyberporn away (Elmer-Dewiti 2) .
He is the main problem for the Internet (Levy 1). He
collected images from the Internet and compiled a "blue
book" and persuaded the Senate to pass his Communications
Decency Act (Levy 1).
He focused attention on the availability of inappropriate
material to many youths who use computers. The reason this
"cyberporn" is circulating the Internet so easily is
because it is immensely popular (Elmer-Dewiti 2).
People trade sexually explicit imagery all over the
Internet (Elmer Dewiti 2). There are sites that you can go
to on the Internet known as BBS. Here you pay a fee with a
credit card and then you have access to the material they
have. You can then preview the material and then download
it to your computer for viewing. The problem is serious
because this Cyberporn it's not just a naked lady, they
also have pedophilia (nude photos of children) hebephilia
(youths) and what the researchers call paraphilia - a grab
bag of "deviant" material that includes images of bondage,
sadomasochism, urination, defection, and sex acts with a
barnyard full of animals (Elmer Demiti 2). Obviously, this
has raised a great deal of concern about this type of
material. Many parents and teachers are very concerned. All
a person has to do to get this information is to talk to
someone on-line and download it from them or any remote
site on the Internet. That is why so minors may have access
to it. Prior to this law there were few regulations and
penalties in place for people who allowed children access
to this information. Now, if a person is a minor and a
person gave him these photographs this person can get a
$200,000 dollar fine and up to two years of imprisonment.
Younger viewers also get very dangerous information. The
minors can download a whole novel on how to make firearms,
different kinds of bombs. For example, match bombs, pepper
bombs, pipe bombs etc. And it tells you step by step on how
to make them. From this there have been many cases in which
kids have been dying and getting severely hurt by misuse of
the product. While many sites use devices such as: Login
names and addresses, passwords, and special software still
may be vulnerable to this type of information. Because of
this, parents, and teachers are distressed.
The Congress and Legislature are really studying the
Internet closely. The courts have not yet ruled on whether
the Internet is a print medium like a newspaper, protected
from government censorship, or a broadcast medium like TV,
whose content is closely regulated by the Federal
Communications Commission, (Dickenson 1). A person can
receive a great deal of useful information on the net.
People who sign on-line can receive magazine articles,
world wide news, local news, nation news, weather, meet new
people, get political information and reports and essays.
People should be allowed to talk, download, do anything
they want because of the First Amendment. The Federal
Government can't violate it! A person has a right to do
anything he wishes on-line because this is America, as long
as it is not harmful to others. Parents may not want their
children looking at that and they may be too young and
that's okay. But the parents should monitor their children
and their use of the computer and should not make everyone
else suffer because they're not allowed on that part of the
Internet. Children could be protected from inappropriate
material in other ways. There is currently software that
can limit access to these types of materials such as
passwords or specific hours in order to keep them away from
pornographic material.


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