This essay Government Censorship Essays, Book Reports, Term Papers has a total of 4334 words and 19 pages.
Thesis: Government Censorship would damage the atmosphere of the freedom to express ideas on
the Internet; therefore, government should not encourage censorship.
I. In the Internet community, there is a large volume of technical terms. For this reason, it is first
necessary to examine the terminology specific to Internet.
1.The internet is a world wide computer network.
1.Electronic mail (email), which is one component of the Internet, approximates person
to person letters, memoranda, notes and even phone calls.
2.Another term that is often used is electronic news (enews/Usenet), enews is a
broadcast, free to the Internet medium.
3.The term FTP is also frequently used. File transfer protocol (FTP) started as an
Internet archival and retrieval medium, somewhat analogous to traditional libraries.
4.The world-wide web (WWW), which is another component of the Net, can be used
to "publish" material that would traditionally appear in journals, magazines, posters,
books, television and even on film.
2.It is also essential to give a brief history on the internet.
3.The U.S. government is now trying to pass bills to prevent misuse of the Net.
II. In order to understand the need for the ever-growing body of legislation, it is important to
explore the controversy, and the current problems involved with the Net as it exists must be
1.The problem that concerns most people is offensive materials such as pornography.
2.Another crucial internet crime is the stealing of credit card numbers.
III. One reaction to this inapplicability has been the "Censor the Net" approach (the censorship
bill), we are now to compare its advantages and disadvantages.
1.First, the meaning of "Censoring the Net" must be explained.
2.However, many experts have pointed out that government censorship is not possible.
1.First, it is not fair to exclude the freedom and damage the atmosphere of freely
expressing ideas just for the safety of children.
2.Most internet users are enjoying their freedom of speech on the Net, which is
supposed to be protected by our First Amendment.
3.Additionally, only a very small portion of the Net contains offensive material, most
people do not use the Net for pornography.
4.It must be understood that censoring the Net is technically impossible.
5.While people are concerned about Internet pornography, it should be recognized that
pornography is sometimes legal; for example, pornography is legal in video and
IV. There are many alternative measures to government censorship which would prevent misuse of
the Net and would have the same effects as censorship.
1.It is very important for parents to provide moral guidance for their children, and parents
should have this responsibility.
2.However, at the same time as we carry out moral guidance, we have to come out with some
short term approaches to solve the problem in a more efficient way as well.
3.An alternative to government censorship is the technological fix, which would prevent
misuse of the Net and would have the same effects as government censorship.
1.One example of technological fix is the "SurfWatch" software.
2.Also, commercial Internet service providers, such as "America Online", allow parents
to control what Internet relay chat (IRC) sessions are available to their children.
3.Another technological fix is for parents and guardians to have a separate "proxy
server" for their children's web browser.
4.There are no computer programs to automatically and reliably classify material; only people
can do it. As a result, while practicing technological fixes, the classification of the contents of
the material when posting is very important.
5.Nowadays, most internet users classify their postings with standard categories, and leave
signatures at the end of postings.
6.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 murky 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.
The Internet Censorship Bill of 1995, also known as the Exon/Coats Communications Decency
Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. It would make it a criminal offense to make
available to children anything that is indecent, or to send anything indecent with "intent to annoy,
abuse, threaten, or harass" ("Stop the Communications ..." n.p.). The goal of this bill as written
(though not as stated by its proponents) is to try to make all public discourse on the Internet
suitable for young children. The issue of whether is it necessary to have censorship on the Internet
is being argued all over the world. There are numerous homepages on the World Wide Web
discussing this issue, or asking people to sign the petition to stop government censorship.
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 Usenet newsgroups so other
scientists in the same field of study all over the world can know in minutes. Ordinary people use
the Net for communication, expressing their opinions in the newsgroups, obtaining up-to-date
information from the WWW, acquiring files by using FTP, etc. Censorship would damage the
atmosphere of the freedom to express ideas on the Internet; therefore, government should not
In the Internet community, there is a large volume of technical terms. For this reason, it is first
necessary to examine the terminology specific to Internet. The Internet is a world wide computer
network. The "Net" is frequently used in place of Internet. In the words of Allison and Baxter, two
experts on Internet Censorship at the Monash University, "the Internet is comprised of various
digital media subsuming many of the distinct roles of traditional media" (Allison and Baxter 3).
Electronic mail (email), which is one component of the Internet, approximates person to person
letters, memoranda, notes and even phone calls. Sound and pictures are sometimes sent along with
text. Email is mainly for private communication. Electronic mailing lists are rather like club
newsletters and readers have to contract-in or subscribe to a list.
Another term that is often used is electronic news (enews/Usenet), enews is a broadcast, free to
the Internet medium. It has some properties of radio or television, particularly talk-back radio or
television, in that the destination is indiscriminate.
The term FTP is also frequently used. File transfer protocol (FTP) started as an Internet archival
and retrieval medium, somewhat analogous to traditional libraries. Files can be retrieved from
distant computers using a traditional text-based interface.
The world-wide web (WWW), which is another component of the Net, can be used to "publish"
material that would traditionally appear in journals, magazines, posters, books, television and even
on film. The term UNIX, "a widely heard computer term, is a multi-user, multitasking operating
system originally developed by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, at AT&T Bell Laboratories, in
1969 for use on minicomputers" ("UNIX" n.p.).
To understand the background of the controversy, it is also necessary to give a brief history on the
Internet. The Internet was created about twenty years ago in an attempt to connect a U.S. Defense
Department network called the ARPAnet and various other radio and satellite networks. The
ARPAnet was an experimental network designed to support military research; in particular,
research about how to build networks that could withstand partial outages (such as bomb attacks)
and still function. At about the same time the Internet was coming into being, Ethernet local area
networks ("LANs") were developed. Most of these workstations came with Berkeley UNIX,
which included IP (Internet Protocol) networking software. This created a new demand: rather
than connecting to a single large timesharing computer per site, organizations wanted to connect
the ARPAnet to their entire local network. The demand keeps growing today. Now that most
four-year colleges are connected to the Net, people are trying to get secondary and primary
schools connected. People who have graduated from college where they have used the resources
of the Net in classes, know what the Internet is good for, and talk their employers into connecting
different corporations. All this activity points to continued growth, networking problems to solve,
evolving technologies, and job security for networkers (Willmott 107).
The Internet can also be compared to a church. In many ways the Internet is like a church: it has its
council of elders, every member has an opinion about how things should work, and they can either
take part or not. It's the choice of the user. The Internet has no president, chief operating officer,
or Pope. The constituent networks may have presidents and CEO's, but that's a different issue;
there is no single authority figure for the Internet as a whole. As stated by Frances Hentoff, the
staff writer for The Village Voice and the author of First Freedoms, "on an info superhighway
driven by individuals, there are no cops preventing users from downloading" (Hentoff 1). Internet
users can broadcast or express anything they want. The fact that the Net has no single authority
figure sets forth a problem about what kind of materials could be available on the Net.
The U.S. government is now trying to pass bills to prevent misuse of the Net. The Internet
Censorship Bill of 1995, which has already been discuss earlier, was introduced to the U.S.
Congress. Under the Censorship Bill, a person breaks the law if he/she puts a purity test on a web
page without making sure children cannot access the page. Also, if a person verbally assaults
someone on IRC, he/she breaks the law. If a university, where some students may be under 18
years old, carries the alt.sex.* newsgroups, which contains adult material, it breaks the law.
According to George Melloan from the Wall Street Journal, a censorship bill was passed by the
Senate 84-16 in July, and an anticensorship bill was passed by the House 420-4 in August. There
are now four different sets of censorship and anticensorship language in the House and Senate
versions of the Telecomm reform bill, which contradict each other and will have to be reconciled
In order to understand the need for the ever-growing body of legislation, it is important to explore
the controversy, and the current problems involved with the Net as it exists must be introduced.
The problem that concerns most people is offensive material such as pornography. As pointed out
by Allison and Baxter, "Possible (offensive) topics are behavior (drugs, ... ), nudity,
political/economic/social opinion, violence, racial/ethnic, religious, coarse language, sexual/gender
orientation, [and] sexuality" (Allison and Baxter 3). Since the Internet is open to everyone, children
are very easily exposed to such material. According to Allison and Baxter, "the information
provided on the Internet, particularly through the WWW, ranges across train time-tables,
university lecture notes, books, art exhibits, film promotions, the wisdom and ravings of individuals
and, yes, pornographic pictures" (Allison and Baxter 3). Moreover, many high schools in the
United States provide Internet access to students, which is very useful for looking up information,
but if a student intends to look for inappropriate material, he/she is very likely to find such material
simply by doing an Internet search.
Another crucial Internet crime is the theft of credit card numbers. Companies do business on the
Net, and credit card numbers are stored on their servers; everyone with the necessary computer
knowledge could hack in and obtain such databases for illegal purposes. To cite an instance, the
most infamous computer terrorist, Kevin Mitnick, "waived extradition and is now in jail in
California, charged with computer fraud and illegal use of a telephone access device. The list of
allegations against him include theft of many files and documents, including twenty-thousand credit
card numbers from Netcom On-Line Services, which provides thousands with access to the
Internet" (Warren 52). Americans have to come up with a solution in order to keep children away
from inappropriate material and to prevent misuses of the Net.
One reaction to this inapplicability has been the "Censor the Net" approach (the censorship bill),
which is being debated worldwide. First, the meaning of "Censoring the Net" must be explained.
Simply, it is the banning of offensive material. To see if the government 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.
However, many experts have pointed out that government censorship is not possible. Howard
Rheingold, the editor of the Whole World Review, observes that, "the 'censor the Net' approach is
not just morally misguided. It's becoming technically and politically impossible" (Rheingold n.p.).
First, it is not fair to exclude the freedom and damage the atmosphere of freely expressing ideas
just for the safety of children. Corn-Revere, an expert on Internet censorship at the Howgan &
Harson Law Firm, points out that "the purpose of indecency regulation is to keep adult material
from falling into the hands of kids. When he first introduced a similar bill last year, Senator Exon
said he was concerned that the Information Superhighw
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