INTERNET REGULATION: POLICING CYBERSPACE
The Internet is a method of communication and a source
of information that is becoming more popular among those who
are interested in, and have the time to surf the information
superhighway. The problem with this much information being
accessible to this many people is that some of it is deemed
inappropriate for minors. The government wants censorship,
but a segment of the population does not. Legislative
regulation of the Internet would be an appropriate function
of the government.
The Communications Decency Act is an amendment which
prevents the information superhighway from becoming a
computer “red light district.” On June 14, 1995, by a vote
of 84-16, the United States Senate passed the amendment. It
is now being brought through the House of Representatives.1
The Internet is owned and operated by the government,
which gives them the obligation to restrict the materials
available through it. Though it appears to have sprung up
overnight, the inspiration of free-spirited hackers, it in
fact was born in Defense Department Cold War projects of the
1950s.2 The United States Government owns the Internet and
has the responsibility to determine who uses it and how it
The government must control what information is
accessible from its agencies.
This material is not lawfully available through
the mail or over the telephone, there is no valid
reason these perverts should be allowed unimpeded
on the Internet. Since our initiative, the
industry has commendably advanced some blocking
devices, but they are not a substitute for
Because the Internet has become one of the biggest sources
of information in this world, legislative safeguards are
The government gives citizens the privilege of using
the Internet, but it has never given them the right to use
They seem to rationalize that the framers of the
constitution planned & plotted at great length to
make certain that above all else, the profiteering
pornographer, the pervert and the pedophile must
be free to practice their pursuits in the presence
of children on a taxpayer created and subsidized
People like this are the ones in the wrong. Taxpayer’s
dollars are being spent bringing obscene text and graphics
into the homes of people all over the world.
The government must take control to prevent
pornographers from using the Internet however they see fit
because they are breaking laws that have existed for years.
Cyberpunks, those most popularly associated with the
Internet, are members of a rebellious society that are
polluting these networks with information containing
pornography, racism, and other forms of explicit
When they start rooting around for a crime, new
cybercops are entering a pretty unfriendly
environment. Cyberspace, especially the Internet,
is full of those who embrace a frontier culture
that is hostile to authority and fearful that any
intrusions of police or government will destroy
their self-regulating world.5
The self-regulating environment desired by the cyberpunks is
an opportunity to do whatever they want. The Communications
Decency Act is an attempt on part of the government to
control their “free attitude” displayed in homepages such as
“Sex, Adult Pictures, X-Rated Porn”, “Hot Sleazy Pictures
(Cum again + again)” and “sex, sex, sex. heck, it’s better
even better than real sex”6. “What we are doing is simply
making the same laws, held constitutional time and time
again by the courts with regard to obscenity and indecency
through the mail and telephones, applicable to the
Internet.”7 To keep these kinds of pictures off home
computers, the government must control information on the
Internet, just as it controls obscenity through the mail or
on the phone.
Legislative regulations must be made to control
information on the Internet because the displaying or
distribution of obscene material is illegal.
The courts have generally held that obscenity is
illegal under all circumstances for all ages,
while “indecency” is generally allowable to
adults, but that laws protecting children from
this “lesser” form are acceptable. It’s called
protecting those among us who are children from
the vagrancies of adults.8
The constitution of the United States has set regulations to
determine what is categorized as obscenity and what is not.
In Miller vs. California, 413 U.S. at 24-25, the
court announced its “Miller Test” and held, at 29,
that its three part test constituted “concrete
guidelines to isolate ‘hard core’ pornography from
expression protected by the First Amendment.9
By laws previously set by the government, obscene
pornography should not be accessible on the Internet.
The government must police the Internet because people
are breaking laws. “Right now, cyberspace is like a
neighborhood without a police department.”10 Currently
anyone can put anything he wants on the Internet with no
penalties. “The Communications Decency Act gives law
enforcement new tools to prosecute those who would use a
computer to make the equivalent of obscene telephone calls,
to prosecute ‘electronic stalkers’ who terrorize their
victims, to clamp down on electronic distributors of obscene
materials, and to enhance the chances of prosecution of
those who would provide pornography to children via a
The government must regulate the flow of information on
the Internet because some of the commercial blocking devices
used to filter this information are insufficient.
“Cybercops especially worry that outlaws are now able to use
powerful cryptography to send and receive uncrackable secret
communications and are also aided by anonymous
re-mailers.”11 By using features like these it is
impossible to use blocking devices to stop children from
accessing this information. Devices set up to detect
specified strings of characters will not filter those that
it cannot read.
The government has to stop obscene materials from being
transferred via the Internet because it violates laws
dealing with interstate commerce.
It is not a valid argument that “consenting
adults” should be allowed to use the computer BBS
and “Internet” systems to receive whatever they
want. If the materials are obscene, the law can
forbid the use of means and facilities of
interstate commerce and common carriers to ship or
disseminate the obscenity.12
When supplies and information are passed over state or
national boundaries, they are subject to the laws governing
interstate and intrastate commerce. When information is
passed between two computers, it is subjected to the same
The government having the power to regulate the
information being put on the Internet is a proper extension
of its powers. With an information based system such as the
Internet there is bound to be material that is not
appropriate for minors to see. In passing of an amendment
like the Communications Decency Act, the government would be
given the power to regulate that material.
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