This essay has a total of 2001 words and 9 pages.
Government Control of the Internet
During the past decade, our society has become based solely on the ability to move large amounts of information across large distances quickly. Computerization has influenced everyone's life. The natural evolution of computers and this need for ultra-fast communications has caused a global network of interconnected computers to develop. This global net allows a person to send E-mail across the world in mere fractions of a second and enables to access information worldwide. Software that allows users with a sound card to use the Internet as a carrier for long distance voice calls and video conferencing is the key to the future of our society. Our democratic government sensing the growing power of the Internet that is not so easy to control is doing all it can to get on the top of the wild horse. The government is dreaming to have the control: to view all the information circulating the web, to read our private e-mails, to peek into chat rooms, and to restrict us, the Internet people, in any way possible. The government wishes to be the next big brother who will be watching you! No matter how small, any attempt at government intervention in the Internet will stifle the greatest communication innovation of this century.
At present, the web is the epitome of the first amendment of the constitution: free speech and right to privacy. Every American values freedom of the speech and their privacy as something essential. “Freedom of speech is one of our most precious rights” (Ferry 356). The key to the worldwide success of the Internet is that it does not limit its users. The web is a place where people can speak their mind without being reprimanded for what they say, or how they choose to say it. Jim Exon, a democratic senator from Nebraska, wants to pass a decency bill regulating the Internet. Exon’s bill apparently would criminalize private e-mail. Why is it that government has the need to read our private e-mails? If I call someone on the phone I can say anything, but if I say it on the Internet, it’s illegal. Censorship threatens to destroy freelance atmosphere of the Internet that the majority of us treasure so much. If we allow the government to interfere with our lives so much, sooner or later it will turn into Communism or Dictatorship.
Our government wants to maintain control over the new, greatest form of communication: the Internet. They are trying to use the protection of children as a smoke screen to pass laws that will allow them to regulate and censor the Internet. Currently, there is software being released that promises to block children's access to known X-rated Internet newsgroups and sites. However, since most adults rely on their computer literate children to setup these programs, the children will be able to find ways around them. This mimics real life where these children would surely be able to get their hands on adult magazines, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc. Regardless of what types of software or safeguards are used to protect the children of the Information age, there will be ways around them. This necessitates the education of the children to deal with reality. Altered views of an electronic world translate easily into altered views of the real world. Parents should teach their children that the Internet is just like the real world, and show them how to enjoy the positive and avoid the negative. Censorship is less important issue than good parenting. Raising well-disciplined and intelligent children isn’t the government's responsibility; it’s ours as parents.
Congress, in their pursuit of regulations, seems to have overlooked the fact that the majority of the adult material on the Internet comes from overseas. Although many U.S. government sources helped fund Arpanet, the predecessor to the Internet, they no longer control it. Many of the new Internet technologies, including the World Wide Web, have come from overseas. There is no clear boundary between information held in the U.S. and information stored in other countries. Data held in foreign computers is just as accessible as data in America; all it takes is the click of a mouse to access. Even if our government tried to regulate the Internet, it has no control over what is posted in other countries, and it has no practical way to stop it. The Internet's predecessor was originally designed to uphold communications after a nuclear attack by rerouting data to compensate for destroyed telephone lines and servers. Today's Internet still works on a similar design. It allows the Internet to overcome any kind of barriers put in its way. If a major line between two servers say in two countries, is cut, then the Internet users will find another way around this obstacle. This obstacle avoidance makes it virtually impossible to separate an entire nation from indecent information in other countries. Even if it were possible to isolate America's computers from the rest of the world, it would be devastating to our economy.
Only few years ago a major university attempted to regulate what types of Internet access its students had. The outcome proved once more that Internet is something that has to be left alone. A research associate at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study of pornography on the school's computer networks. Martin Rimm put together a large picture collection (917,410 images) and he also tracked how often each image had been downloaded (a total of 6.4 million). It happened so that a local court had recently declared pictures of similar content obscene; as a result the school feared they might be held responsible for the content of its network. The school administration quickly removed access to all these pictures and “pulled the plug” on the sex newsgroups where most of this obscenity was suspected to come from. A total of 80 newsgroups were removed, causing a large disturbance among the student body. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electro
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