Government Intervention on the Internet

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