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Pornography on the Internet is available in different formats. These range from pictures and short animated movies, to sound files and stories. Most of this kind of pornographic content is available through World Wide Web pages. The Internet also makes it possible to discuss sex, see live sex acts, and arrange sexual activities from computer screens. There are also sex related discussions on the Internet Relay Chat channels where users in small groups or in private channels exchange messages and files.(Akdenis, 1997) There are millions of different pornographic sites on the internet, so there is almost no way of regulating every site unless there was some type of a universal censorship required for every site. Nearly every one of these millions and millions of sites is accessed daily. Men, women, and children of every age and race are on the Internet looking at inappropriate sites every day. Over 2/3 of Americans who have access to the Internet have accessed pornographic or other un-ethical sites, and the numbers are only growing.
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The other problem that is seen with Internet pornography is how graphic and explicit it can be. Many illegal sites appear throughout the Web and the controversy over child pornography is readily increasing. These sites are what originally created the Internet uproar that we see today. The statement that, if you want to see it, you can on the Internet, is very true. Sites like animals and humans in sexual positions, children of all ages in sexual situations, and some of the most repulsive things you could imagine can and are found on the Internet. This is where sites begin to actually break the law. In 1978 a law was passed in response to a growing problem of child pornography. Its main purpose was to close some potential gaps in the measures available to police and prosecutors. The law particularly deals with the use of children in pornographic photography even where no other form of abuse has occurred. (Gibbons, 1995, p. 87) This is the Act that put Father Adrian Mcleish in prison for the next 7 years after being arrested on charges of distributing child pornography on the Internet.
Bestiality is another growing controversy on the Internet. With sites expanding, and bestiality being in the gray area of illegal, pornographic sites are experimenting with this new idea. The only argument society has created is that it violates animal rights laws, but there have been very few cases where bestiality has been an issue.
The word censorship, arises quite often when talking about Internet pornography. Pornography industries argue that there is plenty of censorship available out there, and they dont see the problem.(Bishop 47) The problem is that the censoring available is either too expensive, or it doesnt work. However, one solution is seemingly becoming more popular. Filtering software, a new idea that is really catching on. New technology means parents, teachers, librarians and others responsible for what children see online do not have to resort to disabling the modem. Software filtering enables adults to filter out the sites that kids should not have access to. The only problem is that parents dont feel they need this software, so they dont buy it.
There appears not to be a single solution for the regulation of illegal and harmful content on the Internet because, for example, the exact definition of offences such as child pornography varies from one country to another and also what is considered harmful will depend upon cultural differences.(Barry, 1996) There is valid argument that the Internet is just another form of media, and since adults have access to other forms of pornography in the media, then why should the Internet be so different? The only answer to this is that adults are not the only ones who have the access to these sites.
Although Internet pornography should not be banned all together, censorship and regulations should be upgraded due to its availability and graphic nature. There is a real problem with child pornography on the Internet, as well as the availability of explicit material to children. But any action intended to protect children from accessing un-ethical content on the Internet should not take the form of an unconditional prohibition of using the Internet to distribute content which is available freely for adults in other media. (Akdenis, 1997) We have a problem here, but at this particular time, there is no regulation on pornography on the Internet.
Akdenis, Yaman. The regulation of Pornography and Child Pornography. The Internet, 1997. The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT)
Barry, Richard (1996) It was All talk and No Action---Yet The Independence Network Section, 1996, 16 September, p. 14
Bishop, David. The Dangers of the Internet, The Milton Co. New York, 1998
Gibbons, Thomas (1996) Computer Generated Pornography, International Yearbook of Law Computers and Technology, 1995. Vol 9, pp 83-95
Rawson, Timothy. What is the Computer? NW Haven Publishers. Los Angeles, 1997