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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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