Abstract: The issue of free speech has been around since the founding fathers first ratified the constitution of the United States. With the emergence of new technology, especially the Internet, freedom of speech has been redefined and its limits tested. What are the limitations of free speech on the Internet, and how can they be enforced? These are the constitutional questions for the digital age.
Imagine being in your home, a bastion of privacy and comfort, and having someone scream racial slurs at you as you sit placidly in a comfortable chair. Unlikely, you say? Just visit the website of the Aryan Nation or the Klu Klux Klan. In this day and age when anyone can be a publisher by reading a book and clicking a mouse, the Internet is being used as a showcase for marginal and unpopular views that gives them a guise of authority and allows them to reach a wide audience. It is interesting to note that a similar phenomenon has occurred in the past when new types of media have appeared. The invention of the printing press allowed the ideas of the Protestant Reformation to spread quickly and to take hold in Europe. Without Gutenberg's genius, Luther's ideas may never have escaped Saxony.
Obscure topics such as methods of quilting used by the Amish at the turn of the 19th century may find expression on the Internet. Enthusiasts who were once isolated can communicate their love for quilting and can post their favorite patterns on a website for all to see and emulate. It is not just bland and acceptable information that creates communities, though. Forming interest groups on the Internet is also possible for bigots, racists, xenophobes and others. For t...
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2.A Gift of Fire, by Sara Baase. Copyright 1997, Prentice Hall.
3. www.epic.org/free_speech/cda/leahy_S213_statement.html : a statement on introduced bills and joint resolutions given during the debating of the Communications Decency Act
4. www.epic.org/cda : updates on the legal battle over the CDA from EPIC
5. www.cybercrime.gov/racismun.htm : A government site dedicated to the issues of cybercrime. This specific page deals specifically with first amendment rights.
6. www.coe.ilstu.edu/portfolios/javendano/landmark.htm : a site containing cases regarding free speech on college campuses
7. www.jmls.edu/cuber/cases/baker.html : page maintained by the John Marshall Law
8.www.cybercrime.gov/bombmakinginfo.html : 1997 report on the availability of
bombmaking information, prepared by the United States Department of Justice
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