Internet Censorship 3 Essay, Research Paper
Censorship – the act or policy of censoring. To censoring – to examine, control, delete or omit the content of. (Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus, 1998) This is the official definition of the censorship, as people know it. It is important to concentrate on the deleting part, because in 1994, after the APRANET was turned off and the Internet became a public commercial network, people started to worry about decency of the World Wide Web. So, the U.S. Congress issued several bills (such as Internet Decency Act) that put strict laws into the place of controlling the Internet. In one of his interviews, senator Jim Exon, author of the Decency Act, quotes: We must create laws for the Internet similar to those now in place for television and radio. (Exon, 1995) At the end of 1995, an opposition was formed. Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (branch of American Civil Liberties Union) declared that the Internet is not like any type of media and should not be censored as one. Watching this battle going, I formed a strong opinion. Joining the opposition, I believe that the Internet must not be censored because censoring is against basic human freedoms; it s impossible and unnecessary.
In order to prove that censorship on the Internet is wrong, you don t have to go far into the Internet and consider such issues as child pornography (i.e.). The proof is simple: censoring the Internet contradicts the fundamental human freedoms. It is the United States Congress that first proposed and still is running the campaign for the censorship on the Internet. U.S. Congressmen are the (only) ones who stand the trial against American Civil Liberal Union and the opposition. However, the very first rule (Amendment) that the U.S. Congress operates upon declares: 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 redress of grievances. (The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) Note: no law against freedom of speech or press. There should not be any other words spoken in order to realize that whatever U.S. Congress tries to do, in a way of censoring, is simply against the law. People say that since we don t live in the United States of America the action of the U.S. Congress don t concern us. But it s wrong. The Canadian Constitution has an absolutely the same rule : Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association. (Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, 1:2) Almost every country in the world today has a similar declaration of rights. This and the fact that U.S. Congress tries to perform censoring actions worsens the entire situation. Not only the U.S. Congress breaks the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and limits the rights of its own nation, unwillingly (or maybe willingly), it breaks others laws (Canadian Constitution Act per se) and limits other nations rights and freedoms. These actions are totally wrong; therefore, any attempts to censor the Internet should be stopped in the beginning.
Of course, the fact that the censorship on the Internet is unconstitutional is not sufficient proof for some people. They are too frustrated with the explicit material that s on the Net. Well, here s something else: it is virtually impossible to censor the Internet. Why? First of all, because the Internet is global. Tens of millions people who are on-line today come from different cultures. Naturally, these cultures have different norms and mores. James Henslin (co-author of Essentials of Sociology) states: Many Canadians perceive bullfighting as a cruel activity that should be abolished everywhere in the world. To Spaniards and those who have inherited Spanish culture, however, bullfighting is a beautiful, artistic sport in which matador and bull blend into a unifying image of courage and glory. (James M. Henslin, 1996, Essentials of Sociology, p. 36) This shows that you cannot put all people under one ruler. And secondly, Internet pornographic sites represent an entertainment business with over six billion dollars worth of annual profit. It is the most profitable type of, so-called, electronic commerce. Here you have two sides: supply and demand. Censorship on the Internet hurts both of them. On one hand, here s six billion dollars a year. Most of the pornographic sites are private, but the rest are the serious, sometimes huge (i.e. Hotsex.Com has over three hundred employees) companies. Some of them are the members of the work unions. The censorship will simply put them out of business. And the unions won t let this happen. On the other hand, here are the users that are able and, most important, willing to pay six billions a year for adult entertainment. People want the adult entertainment. And when supply is trying to meet demand there is virtually nothing that can stop it, especially censorship.
Taking a stand of the extreme opposition to the censorship on the Internet, I still can t deny the fact that the Net is full of x-rated material and in our society there is a group that is needed to be protected from it – children. It may seem that this is the case when we need the Internet to be censored. But we don t. That is my final point: censoring the Internet is absolutely unnecessary in order to protect minors from, so-called, indecent content. Firstly, there are tens of web sites such as Net-sitter, Net-Nanny, Adult-Check, Cyber-Patrol, etc. These companies are denying access to the x-rated pages to those of illegal age. The number of protective sites is growing and since they share their profit from advertisement with the companies that signed for their services, the numbers of x-rated sited joined is also growing. By the end of the century over 90 per cent of adult Internet entertainment will be closed for minors, without any censoring. Another thing that proves needlessness of the censorship is ability of parents to protect their children. Every web browser has Content Advisor were a user can make the list of unaccepted URLs (internet addresses) and lock it with a password. Most of the adult sites are listed in major search engines: Yahoo, Lycos, AOL and WebCrawler, so it should not take more that six hour to make a huge list of indecent sites . Your browser then won t load them without your password. Easy.
In conclusion, I must add, I strongly thinkbelieve that the Internet is our future. It is already takes valuable place in our everyday lives. It is unprecedented medium of information exchange which will revolutionize the way in which people work, play, and socialize (Cozac, 1998) The Internet made our world smaller. And sure there will be other global networks, but the Internet is closer to us became it is the first. It is the symbol of electronic interaction. Think what kind of message will be delivered to the next generation, if censoring of the Internet occurred. Even though, the actions of politicians are understandable it would be quite beneficial to control this huge information medium, the Net should be left as it is today. And this entire censorship-on-the-Internet nonsense must be stopped.