As a professional Internet publisher and avid user of the Internet, I have become concerned with laws like the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) that censor free speech on the Internet. By approving the CDA, Congress has established a precedent which condones censorship regulations for the Internet similar to those that exist for traditional broadcast media. Treating the Internet like broadcast media is a grave mistake because the Internet is unlike any information medium that has been created.
My concerns about Internet censorship prompted me to write "Internet Censorship is Absurd and Unconstitutional." In the essay, I outline why I believe that the Internet should not be censored in any way for two reasons. First, any law advocating censorship of the Internet is too broad and unenforceable on this global information medium. Second, Internet censorship is a breach of First Amendment rights for those users residing in the United States. The essay will provide insight into why self regulation is the only viable solution to the problems that have and will be presented to the Internet.
Should it be illegal to publish literature with "indecent" content on the Internet but perfectly legal to publish that same work in print? This question has spawned the debate over Internet censorship, which is currently raging in the United States Congress as well as in other political forums around the world. The question as to whether the Internet should be censored will continue to be debated for many years to come. As with any political topic, the debate over Internet censorship has its extremes. Many proponents of Internet censorship want strict control over this new information medium. Proponents of Internet censorship such as Senator Jim Exon (D-NE), co-author of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), are in favor of putting strict laws into place regulating the Internet in order to protect children: "The Decency Act stands for the premise that it is wrong to provide pornography to children on computers just as it is wrong to do it on a street corner or anywhere else" (Exon). These proponents suggest creating laws for the Internet similar to those now in place for television and radio. Those strongly opposing Internet regulations, such as the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC), assert that the Internet is not li...
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...1997): n. pag. Online. Internet. 19 Mar. 1997. Available: http://pathfinder.com/@@sAbDXgQAlb0upRm2/time/daily/1997/970319/970319-1.html. [Time magazine report on the Supreme Court appeal of the CDA case.]
Net Nanny Software International. Untitled. n. pag. Online. Internet. 3 Jun. 1997. Available: http://www.netnanny.com/. [Home page for the Net Nanny Software company which describes the software’s purpose and appropriate usage.]
Plummer, James C. "Decent Information?" Consumers’ Research Magazine Aug. 1996: 33. [An editorial on the CDA questioning it’s premise.]
Recreational Software Advisory Council Web Site. Online. Internet. 3 Jun. 1997. Available: http://www.rsac.org/. [Web site for the RSACi rating system which explains the system’s purpose and appropriate usage.]
Sirico, Robert A. "Don’t Censor the Internet." Forbes 29 July 1996: 48. [Editorial outlining concerns about governmental control of the Internet and alternatives.]
Whitmer, Clair. "Man Gets 5 Years for Online Child Porn." CNet, Inc. (23 Feb. 1996): n. pag. Online. Internet. http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,787,00.html. [Report of a man sentenced for sending child pornography via the Internet.]
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