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Censorship And Internet Essay Research Paper Censorship

Censorship And Internet Essay, Research Paper Censorship And The Internet The freedom of speech that was possible on the Internet could now be subjected to governmental approvals. For example,

Censorship And Internet Essay, Research Paper

Censorship And The Internet

The freedom of speech that was possible on the

Internet could now be subjected to governmental approvals. For example,

China is attempting to restrict political expression, in the name of

security and social stability. It requires users of the Internet an d

electronic mail (e-mail) to register, so that it may monitor their

activities.9 In the United Kingdom, state secrets and personal attacks are

off limits on the Internet. Laws are strict and the government is

extremely interested in regulating the Intern et with respect to these

issues.10 Laws intended for other types of communication will not

necessarily apply in this medium. Through all the components of the

Internet it becomes easy to transfer material that particular governments

might find objectionable. However, all of these means of communicating on

the Internet make up a large and vast system. For inspectors to monitor

every e-mail, every article in every Newsgroup, every Webpage, every IRC

channel, every Gopher site and every FTP site would be near impossible.

Besides taking an ext raordinary amount of money and time, attempts to

censor the Internet violate freedom of speech rights that are included in

democratic constitutions and international laws.11 It would be a breach of

the First Amendment. The Constitution of the United Stat es of America

declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of

religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the

freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably

to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redr ess of grievances”

12

Therefore it would be unconstitutional for any sort of censorship to occur

on the Internet and affiliated services. Despite the illegality,

restrictions on Internet access and content are increasing worldwide under

all forms of government. In France, a co untry where the press generally

has a large amount of freedom, the Internet has recently been in the

spotlight. A banned book on the health history of former French president

Francois Mitterrand was republished electronically on the World Wide Web

(WWW). Apparently, the electronic reproduction of Le Grand Secret by a

third party wasn’t banned by a court that ruled that the printed version

of the book unlawfully violated Mitterrand’s privacy. To enforce

censorship of the Internet, free societies find that they become more

repressive and closed societies find new ways to crush political

expression and opposition.13 Vice – President Al Gore, while at an

international conference in Brussels about

the Internet, in a keynote address said that “[Cyberspace] is about

protecting and enlarging freedom of expression for all our citizens …

Ideas should not be checked at the border”.14 Another person attending

that conference was Ann Breeson of the Ame rican Civil Liberties Union, an

organization dedicated to preserving many things including free speech.

She is quoted as saying, “Our big victory at Brussels was that we

pressured them enough so that Al Gore in his keynote address made a big

point of stre ssing the importance of free speech on the Internet.”15 Many

other organizations have fought against laws and have succeeded. A prime

example of this is the fight that various groups put on against the recent

Communication Decency Act (CDA) of the U.S. Se nate. The Citizens Internet

Empowerment Coalition on 26 February 1996 filed a historic lawsuit in

Philadelphia against the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General

Janet Reno to make certain that the First Amendment of the U.S.A. would

not be compr omised by the CDA. The sheer range of plaintiffs alone,

including the American Booksellers Association, the Freedom to Read

Foundation, Apple, Microsoft, America Online, the Society of Professional

Journalists, the Commercial Internet eXchange Association , Wired, and

HotWired, as well as thousands of netizens (citizens of the Internet)

shows the dedication that is felt by many different people and groups to

the cause of free speech on the Internet.16 “Words like shit, fuck, piss,

and tits. Words of which our mothers (at least some of them) would no

doubt disapprove, but which by no means should be regulated by the

government. But it’s not just about dirty words. It’s also about words

like AIDS, gay, a nd breasts. It’s about sexual content, and politically

controversial topics like drug addiction, euthanasia, and racism.”17 Just

recently in France, a high court has struck down a bill that promoted the

censorship of the Internet. Other countries have attempted similar moves.

The Internet cannot be regulated in the way of other mediums simply

because it is not the same as anyt hing else that we have. It is a totally

new and unique form of communication and deserves to be given a chance to

prove itself. Laws of one country can not hold jurisdiction in another

country and holds true on the Internet because it has no borders.

Although North America (mainly the United States) has the largest

share of servers, the Internet is still a worldwide network. This means

that domestic regulations cannot oversee the rules of foreign countries.

It would be just as easy for an American te en to download (receive)

pornographic material from England, as it would be from down the street.

One of the major problems is the lack of physical boundaries, making it

difficult to determine where violations of the law should be prosecuted.

There is no one place through which all information passes through. That

was one of the key points that was stressed during the original days of

the Internet, then called ARPANET. It started out as a defense project

that would allow communication in the event of an e mergency such as

nuclear attack. Without a central authority, information would pass around

until it got where it was going.18 This was intended to be similar to the

road system. It is not necessary to take any specific route but rather

anyone goes. In th e same way the information on the Internet starts out

and eventually gets to it’s destination. The Internet is full of

anonymity. Since text is the standard form of communication on the

Internet it becomes difficult to determine the identity and/or age of a

specific person. Nothing is known for certain about a person accessing

content. There are no

signatures or photo-ids on the Internet therefore it is difficult to

certify that illegal activities (regarding minors accessing restricted

data) are taking place. Take for example a conversation on IRC. Two people

could people talking to one another, bu t all that they see is text. It

would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the gender

and/or age just from communication of this sort. Then if the

conversationalist lies about any points mentioned above it would be

extremely difficult t o know or prove otherwise. In this way governments

could not restrict access to certain sites on the basis of ages. A

thirteen-year-old boy in British Columbia could decide that he wanted to

download pornography from an adult site in the U.S. The site may

have warnings and age restrictions but they have no way of stopping him

from receiving their material if he says he is 19 years of age when

prompted. The complexity in the way information is passed around the

Internet means that if information has been posted, deleting this material

becomes almost impossible. A good example of this is the junk mail that

people refer to as spam. These include e-mails ad vertising products,

usenet articles that are open for flames. Flames are heated letters that

many times have no founding behind them. These seem to float around for

ages before dying out because they are perfect material for flamewars.

Flamewars are long,

drawn out and highly heated discussions consisting of flames, which often

time, obscenely, slander one’s reputation and personae. Mostly these are

immature arguments that are totally pointless except to those involved.

The millions of people that partici pate on the Internet everyday have

access to almost all of the data present. As well it becomes easy to copy

something that exists on the Internet with only a click of a button. The

relative ease of copying data means that the second information is posted

to the Internet it may be archived somewhere else. There are in fact many

sites on the Internet that are devoted to the archiving of information

including: ftp.cdrom.com (which archives an extraordinary amount of

software among others), www.archive.org ( which is working towards

archiving as much of the WWW as possible), and wuarchive.wustl.edu (which

is dedicated towards archiving software, publications, and many other

types of data). It becomes hard to censor material that might be

duplicated or triplic ated within a matter of minutes. An example could be

the recent hacking of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Homepage and the

hacking of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Homepage. Someone illegally

obtained access to the computer on which these homepages were stored and

modified them. It was done as a prank; however, both of these agencies

have since shut down their pages. 2600 (www.2600.com), a magazine devoted

to hacking, has republished the hacked DoJ and CIA homepages on their

website. The magazine ei ther copied the data straight from the hacked

sites or the hacked site was submitted to the magazine. I don’t know which

one is true but it does show the ease that data can be copied and

distributed, as well it shows the difficulty in preventing material deemed

inappropriate from appearing where it shouldn’t. The Internet is much too

complex a network for censorship to effectively occur. It is a totally new

and unique environment in which communications transpire. Existing laws

are not applicable to this medium. The lack of tangible boundaries causes

confusion

as to where violations of law take place. The Internet is made up of

nameless interaction and anonymous communication. The intricacy of the

Internet makes it near impossible to delete data that has been publicized.

No one country should be allowed to, or

could, regulate or censor the Internet.

1 http://fileroom.aaup.uic.edu/FileRoom/documents/Cases/102socrates.html

2 Declan McCullagh, “PLAGUE OF FREEDOM” Internet Underground, http://www.eff.org/ declan/global/reports/plague.073196.txt (31 July 1996).

3 Declan McCullagh, “PLAGUE OF FREEDOM” Internet Underground, http://www.eff.org/ declan/global/reports/plague.073196.txt (31 July 1996).

4 Shari, Steele, “Taking a Byte Out of the First Amendment. How Free Is Speech in Cyberspace?” Human Rights, http://www.eff.org/pub/Censorship/human_rights_960420.article (Spring 1996).

5 Bryan Bradford and Mark Krumholz, “Telecommunications and Decency: Big Brother goes Digital,” Business Today, Spring 1996 : 12-16.

6 Bruce, Sterling, “Short History of the Internet,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, http://www.isoc.org:70/00/internet/history/short.history.of.internet (17 Apr. 1996).

7 Bruce, Sterling, “Short History of the Internet,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, http://www.isoc.org:70/00/internet/history/short.history.of.internet (17 Apr. 1996).

8 Shari, Steele, “Taking a Byte Out of the First Amendment. How Free Is Speech in Cyberspace?” Human Rights, http://www.eff.org/pub/Censorship/human_rights_960420.article (Spring 1996).

9 Bill Gates, “Searching for middle ground in online censorship,” Microsoft Corporation,

http://www.microsoft.com/corpinfo/bill-g/column/1996essay/censorship.htm (27 Mar. 1996).

10 Bill Gates, “Searching for middle ground in online censorship,” Microsoft Corporation,

http://www.microsoft.com/corpinfo/bill-g/column/1996essay/censorship.htm (27 Mar. 1996).

11 “Silencing the Net–The Threat to Freedom of Expression Online.” Human Rights Watch May 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2 (G).

12 Thomas Jefferson, “Bill Of Rights,” The Constitution of the United States,

http://Constitution.by.net/uSA/BillOfRights.html (21 Apr. 1996).

13 “Silencing the Net–The Threat to Freedom of Expression Online.” Human Rights Watch May 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2 (G).

14 Declan McCullagh, “PLAGUE OF FREEDOM” Internet Underground, http://www.eff.org/ declan/global/reports/plague.073196.txt (31 July 1996).

15 Declan McCullagh, “PLAGUE OF FREEDOM” Internet Underground, http://www.eff.org/ declan/global/reports/plague.073196.txt (31 July 1996).

16 Steve Silberman, “Defending the First Amendment,” Hotwired.com,

http://www.hotwired.com/special/lawsuit.

17 Heather Irwin, “Geeks Take to the Streets,” Hotwired.com, http://www.hotwired.com/special/indecent/rally.html

18 Bruce, Sterling, “Short History of the Internet,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, http://www.isoc.org:70/00/internet/history/short.history.of.internet (17 Apr. 1996).

Bibliography

Bradford, Bryan and Mark Krumholz. “Telecommunications and Decency: Big Brother goes Digital.” Business Today Spring 1996 : 12-16.

Gates, Bill. “Searching for middle ground in online censorship.” Microsoft Corporation.

http://www.microsoft.com/corpinfo/bill-g/column/1996essay/censorship.htm (27 Mar. 1996).

Irwin, Heather. “Geeks Take to the Streets.” Hotwired.com. http://www.hotwired.com/special/indecent/rally.html

Jefferson, Thomas. “Bill Of Rights.” The Constitution of the United States.

http://Constitution.by.net/uSA/BillOfRights.html (21 Apr. 1996).

McCullagh, Declan. “PLAGUE OF FREEDOM” Internet Underground. http://www.eff.org/ declan/global/reports/plague.073196.txt (31 July 1996).

Silberman, Steve. “Defending the First Amendment.” Hotwired.com.

http://www.hotwired.com/special/lawsuit.

“Silencing the Net–The Threat to Freedom of Expression Online.” Human Rights Watch May 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2 (G).

Steele, Shari. “Taking a Byte Out of the First Amendment. How Free Is Speech in Cyberspace?” Human Rights. http://www.eff.org/pub/Censorship/human_rights_960420.article (Spring 1996).

Sterling, Bruce. “Short History of the Internet.” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. http://www.isoc.org:70/00/internet/history/short.history.of.internet (17 Apr. 1996).

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