Internet6 Essay

This essay has a total of 3064 words and 13 pages.


internet6






Introduction During the past decade, our society has become based solely on
the ability to move large amounts of information across great distances in a
very short amount of time and at very low costs. The evolution of the
computer era and our growing need for ultra-fast communications has caused
a global network of interconnected computers to develop, commonly
referred to as the Internet or the world wide web. The Internet has influenced
practically everyone’s life in some way whether it was done directly or
indirectly. Our children are exposed to the Internet at school, and we are
exposed to the Internet simply by just watching our television sets. The
Internet has become the primary key to the future of communication in our
society today. Because of this, the government feels that it has the right to
regulate and control the contents of information distributed through the World
Wide Web, contrary to the opinions of most Internet users, myself included.
Freedom of Speech Over the Internet At the present, this network is the
epitome of the first amendment, freedom of speech. It is a place where
people can speak their minds without being reprimanded for what they say,
or how they choose to say it. The key to the success of the Internet is its
protection of free speech, not only in America, but in other countries as well,
where free speech is not protected by a constitution. Because there are no
laws regulating Internet material, people may find some of its content
offending, ranging from pornography, to hate-group forums, to countless
other forms of information. With over 30 million Internet users in the U.S.
alone, some of the material is bound to be interpreted as offensive to some
other Internet user. My advice to these people is to “change the station if you
don’t like what you see”. Laws and the Internet The newest waves of laws
making their way through Congress threaten to stifle spontaneity of the
Internet. Recently, Congress has considered passing laws that will make it a
crime to send vulgar language or encryption software over the web. These
crimes could result in prosecutions punishable by jail time. No matter how
insignificant, any attempt at government intervention on the Internet will stifle
the greatest communication innovation of this century. The government wants
to maintain control over this new form of communication, and it is trying to
use the protection of children as a smoke screen to impose these laws upon
us. Censorship of the Internet threatens to destroy its freelance atmosphere,
while wide spread encryption could help eliminate the need for government
intervention. How Do We Interpret the Internet The current body of laws
existing today in America does not apply well to the Internet. Is the Internet
like a broadcasting medium, where the government monitors what is
broadcast? Is it like a bookstore, where servers cannot be expected to
review every title? Is it like a phone company that must ignore what it carries
because of privacy? The trouble is that the Internet can be all or none of
these things depending on how it is used. The Internet cannot be viewed as
one type of transfer medium under the current broadcast definitions. The
Internet differs from the broadcasting media in that one cannot just happen
upon a vulgar site without first keying in a complicated address, or following a
link from another source. "The Internet is much more like going into a book
store and choosing to look at adult magazines" (Miller 75). Because our use
of the Internet varies from person to person, its meaning may be interpreted
in a number of different ways. Nudity on the Internet Jim Exon, a democratic
senator from Nebraska, wants to pass a decency bill regulating sexual
content on the Internet. If the bill is passed, certain commercial servers that
post nude pictures, like those run by Penthouse or Playgirl, would of course
be shut down immediately or risk prosecution. The same goes for any
amateur web site that features nudity, sex talk, or sexually explicit words.
Posting any sexual words in a Usenet discussion group, which occurs
routinely, could cause a person to be liable for a $50,000 fine and six months
in jail. Why does it suddenly become illegal to post something that has been
legal for years in print? Exon's bill apparently would also "criminalize private
mail," ... "I can call my brother on the phone and say anything--but if I say it
on the Internet, it's illegal" (Levy 56). Internet Access To Other Countries
Congress, in their pursuit of regulations, seems to have overlooked the fact
that the majority of the adult material on the Internet is sent from overseas.
Many of the new Internet technologies, including the World Wide Web, have
been developed overseas. There is no clear boundary between information
existing in the U.S. and information existing 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 it. Even if our government tried to regulate the
Internet, we have no control over what is posted in other countries or sent
from other countries, and we have no practical way to stop it. The Internet
was originally designed to uphold communications after a nuclear attack
occurred by rerouting data to compensate for destroyed telephone lines and
servers. Today's Internet still works on a similar design. The building blocks
of the Internet were designed to overcome any kind of communication
barriers put in its way. For example, if a major line between two servers is
cut, the Internet users will find another way around this obstacle, whether the
servers reside in different cities, states, or countries. This characteristic of the
Internet makes it virtually impossible to separate an entire nation from
indecent information in other countries (Wilson 33). Internet Regulating Gone
Bad Recently, a major university attempted to implement limitations on the
Internet access available to its students, with results reminiscent of a 1960’s
protest. The university had become concerned that it might be held
responsible for allowing students access to sexually explicit material, after a
research associate found quite a large collection of pornographic pictures
(917,410 images to be exact) that several students had downloaded.
Frightened by a local court case that had recently declared pictures of similar
content obscene, the school administration quickly removed access to all
these pictures and to the newsgroups where most of this obscenity had
susceptibly come from. A total of 80 newsgroups were removed, causing a
large disturbance among the student body, and shortly thereafter, the
American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
became involved, all of whom felt this was unconstitutional. After only half a
week, the college had backed down, and restored the newsgroups. This is a
small example of what may happen if the government tries to impose
censorship (Elmer-Dewitt 102). Children and the Internet Currently, there is
software being released that promises to block children’s access to known
X-rated Internet newsgroups and sites. However, most adults rely on their
computer literate children to install and set these programs up, which
inevitable defeats the purpose behind childproofing software. Even if this
software is installed by an adult, who’s to say that the child can’t go to a
friend’s house and surf the web without any restrictions or supervision?
Children will find ways to get around these restrictions. Regardless of what
types of software or safeguards are used to protect these children, there will
always 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. When it comes to our children, censorship is
a far less important issue than good parenting. We must teach our kids that
the Internet is an extension and a reflection of the real world. We have to
show them how to enjoy the good things and avoid the bad things. This isn't
the government's responsibility. It's ours as parents. (Miller 76) Self
Regulation of the Internet Some restrictions on electronic speech imposed by
major online companies are not so bad. Most of these communication
companies have restrictions on what their users can "say in public forum
areas” (Messmer). They must, however, respect their customer's privacy.
Private e-mail content is off limits to them, but they may act swiftly upon
anyone who spouts obscenities in a public forum. Self-regulation by users and
servers is the key to avoiding government imposed intervention. Many on-line
sites such as Playgirl and Penthouse have started to regulate themselves. Both
of these sites post clear warnings that adult content lies ahead and lists the
countries where this is illegal. The film and video game industries subject
themselves to ratings, and similarly, if Internet users want to avoid
government imposed regulations, maybe it is time they began to regulate
themselves. Encryption Government attempts to regulate the Internet are not
just limited to obscenity and vulgar language. These attempts also fall into
other areas, such as data encryption. By nature, the Internet is an insecure
method of transferring data. A single e-mail packet may pass through
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