Censorship on the InternetFive years after the first world wide web was launched at the end of 1991, TheInternet has become very popular in the United States. Although PresidentClinton already signed the 1996 Telecommunication ActI on Thursday Feb 8, 1996,the censorship issue on the net still remains unresolved.
In fact, censorship incyberspace is unconscionable and impossible. Trying to censor the Internet itsproblematic because the net is an international issue, there is no standard forjudging materials, and censorship is an abridgment of democratic spirit. Firstly, censorship on the Internet is an international issue. The Internet wasconstructed by the U. S.
military since 1960s, but no one actually owns it. Thus,the Internet is a global network, and it crosses over different cultures. It isimpossible to censor everything that seems to be offensive. For example, Vietnamhas announced new regulations that forbid “data that can affect nationalsecurity, social order, and safety or information that is not appropriate to theculture, morality, and traditional customs of the Vietnamese people.Order now
” on June 4,1996. It is also impossible to ban all things that are prohibited in a country. For instant, some countries, such as Germany, have considered taking measuresagainst the U. S. and other companies or individuals that have created ordistributed offensive material on the Internet.
If the United States governmentreally wanted to censor the net, there is only one solution – shut down allnetwork links of other countries. But of course that would mean no Internetaccess for the whole country and that is disgust by the whole nation. Secondly, everyone has their personal judgment values. The decision of somepeople cannot represent the whole population of those using the net.
Many peopledebate that pornography on the net should be censored because there are kidsonline. However, we can see there are many kids of pornographic magazines ondisplay at newsstands. It is because we have regulations to limit who can readcertain published materials. Likewise, some people already use special softwareto regulate the age limit in cyberspace.
Why do people still argue about that?It is all about personal points of views. Justice Douglas said, “To many theSong of Solomon is obscene. I do not think we, the judges, were ever given theconstitutional power to make definitions of obscenity. “II.
In cyberspace, it ishard to set up a pool of judges to censor what could be displayed on the net. Thirdly, censorship works against democratic spirit, it opposes the right offree speech and is a breach of the First Amendment. Do you remember SalmanRushdie and his book The Satanic Verses? Iranian government announced a deaththreat to kill Rushdie and his publishers because his book speaks against Islam. No one wants that to happen again.
If you are one of the Internet users, youshould have seen a blue ribbon logo. The blue ribbon symbolizes a support forthe essential human right of free speech. Let think about what happen if we lostthe right of free speech. How can we stay online? Who gives courage to the web’sdesigners to put their opinion on the net? On the same day when the 1996Telecommunication Act signed in law, a bill called House Bill 1630 wasintroduced by Georgia House of Representatives member Don Parsons.
It is sorepel that this law even limits the right of choosing email addressesIII. “Freedom of speech on the Internet deserves the same protection as freedom ofthe press, freedom of speech, or freedom of assembly. ” said Bill GatesIV. In addition, information in cyberspace can be changing from second to second.
Ifyou put something on the web, everyone on the net can access it instantly. It istotally different from all traditional media. Everything on the Internet is justa combination of zero and oneV. It is very difficult to chase what has beenpublished on the information superhighway. After President Clinton signed the1996 Telecommunication Act, lots of net users reacted in outrage.
Although theFederal court in Philadelphia and New York have overturned that Act, Thegovernment has appealed the ruling and the case has been referred to the U. S. Supreme Court. Since censorship is an international issue, people have differentjudgment and censorship works against the democratic spirit. Censorship in theInternet is totally unacceptable.
According Justice Potter Stewart’s words,”Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmarkof an authoritarian regime. Long ago those who wrote our First Amendment charteda different course. They believed a society can be truly strong only when it istruly free.
VI”. If we allow those few in society to censor whatever they findoffensive, we have forfeited our right of freedom and have lost our power as ademocratic nation. I. ) On Thursday Feb 1, 1996, Congress approved legislation to dramaticallyrestrict the First Amendment rights of Internet users.
President Clinton signedinto law Thursday Feb. 8, 1996 II. ) Miller v. California, 413 U. S.
15, 46(1973), Justice Douglas, dissenting opinion. III. ) The bill makes it illegalfor email users to have addresses that do not include their own names. IV. )Bill Gates, Microsoft Magazine Volume 3 Issue 4 Page 54, TPD Publishing Inc. ,1996 V.
) The way in which computers read data. VI. )Ginzburg v. United States,383 U. S.
463, 498 (1966)