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The Internet: A Free and Anonymous Place

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With the advent of the World Wide Web, we have access to more information than we ever have before. Whether our desire is for recipes, yesterday’s sporting event, or even governmental documents, we need only to perform a quick search and we will be presented with everything we needed. But, with all of this new access to information, governments like China have cracked down on their country’s Internet access. We as US citizens have our access largely uncensored. As I continued to research this topic, though, I found that the Internet is more censored and far less anonymous than we think.

When people hear the word “censorship,” it generally incites feelings of dread and Orwellian control. Though this is sometimes true, it is not entirely true of our Internet censorship. When the Internet first garnered public attention, governments realized that it had the potential to carry a great deal of information, both good and bad. Necessarily, the first act that Congress put through to block some parts of the Internet from certain viewers was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Known as the Communications Decency Act, it called for any “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person” aimed at a minor to be punishable by law (United States, 81). The intent was righteous enough: do not let minors come into contact with bad material until they are ready for it. In 1997 ruling for Reno c. ACLU, the Supreme Court declared that the act went against the First Amendment and was thereby unconstitutional (Google Scholar). Two rewrites were thrown at Congress; the second made it through and was passed into law. This act is why most service-oriented websites like Facebook and ...

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...Government Printing Office, 22 July 2011. Web. 28 July 2011. .

United States. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Telecommunications Act of 1996. U.S. Government Printing Office, 22 July 2011. Web. 28 July 2011. .

Wright, Alex. "New Search Technologies Mine the Web More Deeply - NYTimes.com." The New York Times. 22 Feb. 2009. Web. 03 Aug. 2011. .

"Google Ads Preferences." Google Ads Preferences. Google. Web. 3 Aug. 2011. .

"Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 US 844 - Supreme Court 1997." Google Scholar. Google, 26 June 1997. Web. 28 July 2011. .
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