During the last decade, our society has become based on the sole ability
to move large amounts of information across great distances quickly.
Computerization has influenced everyone's life in numerous ways. The natural
evolution of computer technology and this need for ultra-fast communications has
caused a global network of interconnected computers to develop. This global
network allows a person to send E-mail across the world in mere fractions of a
second, and allows a common person to access wealths of information worldwide.
This newfound global network, originally called Arconet, was developed and
funded solely by and for the U.S. government. It was to be used in the event of
a nuclear attack in order to keep communications lines open across the country
by rerouting information through different servers across the country. Does
this mean that the government owns the Internet, or is it no longer a tool
limited by the powers that govern. Generalities such as these have sparked
great debates within our nation's government. This paper will attempt to focus
on two high profile ethical aspects concerning the Internet and its usage.
These subjects are Internet privacy and Internet censorship.
At the moment, the Internet is epitome of our first amendment, free
speech. It is a place where a person can speak their mind without being
reprimanded for what they say or how they choose to say it. But also contained
on the Internet, are a huge collection of obscene graphics, Anarchists'
cookbooks, and countless other things that offend many people. There are over
30 million Internet surfers in the U.S. alone, and much is to be said about what
offends whom and how.
As with many new technologies, today's laws don't apply well when it
comes to the Internet. Is the Internet like a bookstore, where servers can not
be expected to review every title? Is it like a phone company who must ignore
what it carries because of privacy; or is it like a broadcast medium, where the
government monitors what is broadcast? The problem we are facing today is that
the Internet can be all or none of the above depending on how it is used.
Internet censorship, what does it mean? Is it possible to censor
... middle of paper ...
...m for our
mind's thoughts will fade away. We must regulate ourselves as not to force the
government to regulate us. If encryption is allowed to catch on, there will no
longer be a need for the government to intervene on the Internet, and the
biggest problem may work itself out. As a whole, we all need to rethink our
approach to censorship and encryption and allow the Internet to continue to grow
Compiled Texts. University of Miami. Miami, Florida.
Lehrer, Dan. "The Secret Shares: Clipper Chips and Cyberpunks." The Nation.
Oct. 10, 1994, 376-379.
Messmer, Ellen. "Fighting for Justice on the New Frontier." Network World.
CD-ROM database. Jan. 11, 1993.
Messmer, Ellen "Policing Cyberspace." U.S. News & World Report.
Jan. 23, 1995, 55-60.
Webcrawler Search Results. Webcrawler. Query: Internet, censorship, and
ethics. March 12, 1997.
Zimmerman, Phil. Pretty Good Privacy v2.62, Online. Ftp://net-dist.mit.edu
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