Net Censorship Essay

This essay has a total of 2727 words and 21 pages.

Net Censorship


Thesis: The vast cyber-frontier is being threatend with censorship from the government. Internet censorship should be
left up to the individual not the governments discretion.

I. Censoring the Internet.

A. Clinton passes the C.D.A.

B. Our rights as Americans.

C. Exon's victory.

D. What's really online.

E. Strike to free expresson on Compuserve.

II. Where the Internet stands now.

A. Judges Panel.

B. Congress and other's opinions.

C. Background information.

D. Other opinions.

III. Solutions.

A. Family's responsibility.

B. Censorship Software.

C. Civil Rights.

A.Conclusion.

After threatening the Communications Decency Act with a vetos of the past versions,
President Bill Clinton signed the bill into

law on February 8, 1996.1 Before hand, congress approved the largest change of the nation's communications laws in 62
years. One of the largest controversial topics included in the bill is the censorship of
pornography, which now is a strenuously

enforced crime of distributing knowingly to children under 18. The congress overwhelmingly
passed the bill with a landslide

414-16 House vote and a 91-5 Senate vote.2 It seems now that the wide bill might not be what it cracked up to be, as it
stands now, anyone who might upload James Joyce's Ulysses could be placed in jail for two
years and have up to a $250,000

fine.3 Representatives of on-line services industries were concerned about the bill, and
feared they could be held criminally

responsible for Internet conversations.4

"We face a unique disturbing and urgent circumstance, because it is children who are the computer experts in our nations
families," remarked a concerned Rep. Senator of India Dan Coats.5 Although in reality,
censorship would do little to stop the

pornography problems. The bill is a nation legislation trying to control a international
network, which is virtually impossible.

According to the First Amendment, Americans were granted to write anything they please,
whether it's indecent or not, several

series of judicial decisions also helped the freedom down the road.6

Nebraskan Democrat James Exon, put together an informational binder known as the Blue Book to show the Senate about the
goings on within the Internet.7 Along the pages of the Blue Book were pictures of people bound and being burned by
cigarettes, people pierced with swords and people involved in sexual activities with
animals.8 The Senate, acknowledging their

ignorance of the Internet, passed Exon's proposal after seeing the pictures in the Blue
Book.9 Along with distribution of

pornography, a person carries the chance of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine which
is a good reason to restrict much of

the flow.10

The Internet is extremely massive, filled with usenet newsgroups, web pages, IRC channels,
ftp sites, gopher sites and much

more. The Internet is the last and largest frontier of uncensored speech, anything from
friendly chat to child porn to bestiality

goes on. Pictures of anything that can be imagined are most likely available to the
searcher. Some estimate that over 30 million

people are on the Internet. On IRC(Internet-Relay-Chat) a live time conversation can be
held along with trading files from

illegal computer game trading called warez to illegal picture trading goes on.
‘Cybersex' is also a occupance that happens more

in live chat areas then others. MUDs or Multi-User-Dungeons, live chat like IRC was first
started for Role Playing uses like

online Dungeons and Dragons, now among the MUD servers there are sexual MUDs for people interested in S&M along with
other fetishes. Usenet newsgroups account for 11.5% of total Internet traffic and is a
major distribution of smut pictures.11 The

WWW also known as the World Wide Web is today's largest portion of the Internet as well as the fastest growing with well
over 12 million pages accessible. Despite its gargantuan proportions, it still remains
fairly clean from hardcore smut comparative

to its size. BBSs seem to be the major uproar of censorship, although BBSs are NOT part of the Internet, many of their
pictures found in them later become available to users via someone uploading them.12 Electronic Bulletin-Board
Systems(BBSs) require a user to dial that computer directly thought the phone lines
resulting in long distance charges and often

monthly access fees.

In late December of 1995, a prosecutor in Munich struck a devastating blow to Compuserve
and the larger picture of freedom

of expression.13 This prosecutor was able to prevent the flow of information for 4 million
people in 140 countries.14 By merely

informing Compuserve that it was breaking Baravian law by giving German residents access to sexual newsgroups,
Compuserve removed any newsgroup that had titles with "sex", "gay", or "erotic" which in turn denied access to not only
Germany users but all its users.15

On June 12, 1996, three federal judges in Philadelphia, PA, ruled that the 1996 Communications Decency Act violated the
First Amendment to the Constitution. The panel comprised of three dedicated judges Stewart
Dalzell, Dolores K. Sloviter, and

Ronald L. Backwalter. They voiced their opinion about the censorship and say that the bill
is unconstitutional. The panel

believes that the Internet must be protected since it is an important form of expression
and free speech. The judges enacted a

restraining order preventing enforcement of the unconstitutional act.

"It's virtually impossible [to regulate the Net] because of the global nature of this
communications device. It would mean

monitoring every phone call [into the Internet], which is impossible to do," stated David
Ellington, the C.E.O. of NetNoir.16

"My boss supports First Amendment Freedoms, but is also supportive of protection of
decency," the legislative assistant to

Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY), Khalil Munir responds.17 "As the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the
Internet deserves the highest protection from governmental intrusion," judge Stewart
Dalzell offered.18 Dalzell believes that the

Internet is a good place which allows its users the largest environment for free
expression and speech.19 Dalzell assure that the

Decency Act is not required to protect children from pornography.20

The July 3 report, "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn,"[Time] was based on a Carnegie Mellon University study. Led by
student Martin Rimm, researchers said they found more then 900,000 sexually explicit images and text files online, but
neglected to point out that most came from privately owned adult bulletin boards with no
connection to the Internet.[School

Library Journal, October, 1995, EBSCO-CD]

After hitting the newsstands, the magazine quickly found its way to the floor of the U.S.
Senate. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)

asked to have the entire article entered into the Congressional Record in support of his
bill S.892, the Protection of Children

from Computer Pornography Act of 1995. "There is a flood of vile pornography," Grassley
told fellow senators, "and we must

act to stem this growing tide, because . . . it incites perverted minds."[School Library
Journal, October, 1995, EBSCO-CD]


In a seven week period the Smithsonian Institution's web site gathered a total of 1.9
million visits, and in a seven day time

during June, Playboy took in 4.7 million visits.21 Most of the pictures available on the
Internet were at some point in time

scanned from a magazine or other places which photos as such are found. Many private BBSs do business in taking free
photos to scan for people then keep a copy of the picture for their site. Pornographic
images only represent about 3% of all

messages on the Usenet newsgroups although Carnegie Mellon found that 83.5% of Usenet newsgroup pictures were
pornographic.22

The Usenet itself is extremely small compared to other portions of the Internet and only
consists of 11.5% of overall traffic. The

Carnegie Mellon team surveyed 917,410 sexually explicit pictures while doing their
research on the Internet.23 98.9% of the

online porn seekers are men according to private BBS operators, the same operators which
require fees to gain entrance.24

Researches say that even though the 83.5% of images in usenets were pornographic that
still only represents less the one-half of

one percent of all traffic on the Internet.25 Only nine out of 11,000 Web pages contained
anything obscene yet Time still said,

"There's an awful lot of porn online."26

"[Cyberspace] is a safe space in which to explore the forbidden and taboo. It offers the
possibility for genuine, unembarrassed

conversations about accurate as well as fantasy images of sex," said Carlin Meyer, a professor at New York Law School.27
"It is clearly a violation of free speech and it's a violation of the rights of adults to
communicate with each other," House

speaker Newt Gingrich shared.28

In a Time/CNN poll conducted by Yakelovich Partners, 1000 people were involved and 42% were for FCC-like control over
sexual content on the computer networks, but 48% were against it. Towns supports the effort which Reps. Christopher Cox
(R-Calif) and Ron Wyden(D-Ore) are working for. Cox and Wyden encourage development of smart programs such as
SurfWatch, which restricts access to files at home. The Cox-Wyden proposal would make individuals responsible for
censorship, this would prohibit the governments interaction. Based on a poll takes in
Black Enterprises 32% of those in the poll

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