You are at work and the phone rings. It is the school principal from the high school your daughter attends. He politely tells you that your daughter is being suspended from school and asks that you please come pick her up. After digging a little deeper, you find out that she is being punished for posting to the internet, a book report based writings of James Joyce. The reason for the suspension is not because the material was plagiarized, but because the content of the material was considered "objectionable" or "indecent" according to new standards mandated by the government.
The above story could have easily happened under the 1996 Communication Decency Act (CDA), whose objective was, according to class notes, to protect children from pornographical material but contained vague and ambiguous language. I am all for protecting children from harm, for regulating what they see and do and to maximize their learning. However, censoring the activity of chidren is the role of a parent and not a function of the government. The cost of protecting our children should not be at the cost of our constitutional rights and freedom of speech.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states 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 redress of grievances." Censorship by the government under the CDA, would do more harm than good because, according to Spectacle.org, "The CDA criminalizes 'indecent' speech on the Internet. One section of the CDA defines indecency as speech depicting or describing se...
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...we can say as well. New technologies are always being developed and we, as a society, need to be able to handle it responsibly. We need to protect our constitutional rights, all of them. Too many countries around the world have oppressive governments, where people are thrown in jail for speaking out against government policies.
Wallace, J. and M. Mangan, "The Internet Censorship FAQ", http://www.spectacle.org/freespch/faq.html
Attias, Prof. B., Class notes, November 10, 2003, COMS 454
Electronic Frontier Foundation, "About EFF: General Information about the Electronic Frontier Foundation, http://www.eff.org/about
Hochheiser, Harry, "Cyber-Liberties: Censorship In a Box, Ver. 1.1 12/25/97 http://archive.aclu.org/issues/cyber/box.html#blocking
Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary\ulnone , p. 242, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984
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