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Material that is reserved for adult use has been widely available to everyone via the Internet. Without any regulation the Internet has remained untouched until a few days ago when the president passed the Communications Decency Act. This law was put into effect to put an end to the problems that have derived from the Internet. The CDA makes it a crime to knowingly send "indecent" material that could be viewed by a minor over a computer online service or on the Internet computer network. To those people who are found guilty of this crime could face up to two years in prison and fines of as much as $250,000. Pornography is still available on then net but when this law is implemented its going to drastically change the Internet as a whole. The law makes it illegal to knowingly transmit obscene or indecent material to a minor. There are some protection to online service providers such as America Online, and Prodigy, whose systems are used for such transmissions.
Controlling cyberporn has raised many first amendment questions when the government tries to regulate who controls the flow of that information. Many people seem to think that this is the best way to police the internet without restricting free speech. In my opinion the only reason why pornography on the Internet is such a big topic is because children are now learning to use computers at such a young age that they can find their way to these small group of sexually explicit sites. But in reality these pornographic related sites are only a very small fraction of the millions of sites out there on the world wide web.
Their has been a large discussion of proposing a rating system. Their has been a rating system for violence, nudity, sex and language successful with video games and movies. Threw the Recreational Software Advisory Council, hundreds if not thousands of web sites and home pages could be rated and regulated. Their would be no problems with violating constitutional rights if this only leads to making sure that minors cannot get access to this type of information. But, as soon as the federal government decided to tell us what we can and cannot say over the Internet would be considered a violation of my first amendment rights to freedom of speech. One point brought up by author of the article I found in Editor & Publisher "If hard-core pornographic materials are illegal in the mainstream distribution channels, it should be also illegal on the Internet.
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The Internet was designed to be distributed around the world, with tens of thousands of widely scattered on ramps and servers. It continuously changes on an hourly basis. Which is going to make it very hard and almost impossible to control. As for what is out there on the Internet their is sexual activity, from kiddie porn to bestiality. This also can be a new revolution for sexuality for adults. Instead of going to the video store or a nasty bookstore all you have to do is sit at your computer and access the internet. People can view full screen X-rated movie clips, a wide variety of text material, and X-rated digitally scanned images. "Some think all this is disgusting, but to others it can be another way of enjoying their sexuality" New York Times Magazine. On the average many of the sites out on the web require a membership and a fee usually paid via a credit card. To screen the age of a person trying to get membership you are asked a barrage of questions, name, phone number, address, and usually have to send in a copy of your drivers license. This makes it impossible for children to gain access to these materials. But, today all you have to have is a internet provider and computer with a modem and a web browser on it and you can access top quality pornography in other countries where their are no laws restricting access by age. That's been the focus of the pornography issues discussed widely in the press.
Pornographic files as a whole only accounts for one half of one percent of all the messages posted on the Internet. Just to explain to everyone how big the web is. Lets use UseNet as an example, UseNet has a collection of more than five thousand special interest public forums on the Internet, and is accessible to large commercial providers such as America Online. According to Time One of the more popular sections of UseNet is alt.sex, which stands for alternative sex. They say that alt.sex is so popular that it has spawned more than 60 other groups ranging form alt.sex.bestiality to alt.sex.woodyallen. Also according to the article "Vice Raid on the Net" half a dozen other UseNet news groups also store free, X-rated images that users can download and view on their computers. According to the article from a Carnegie Mellon graduate student surveying sex on the Internet they determined that 450,620 pornographic images and text files have been downloaded 6,432,297 times in six months.
Another popular web site is Penthouse and others which display free, frontally nude cyber-pinups. I know this to be a fact because one of the first few times when I was first introduced to the World Wide Web I browsed straight to Playboy and Penthouse and to my surprise they did display a few free pictures without even having to be screened. One thing that the articles I read didn't say is most of the pornographic pages I accessed while researching only said "Click here if your over 21" and on the bottom of the screen it says "If your offended by this material or under age click here" were used to grant access. But on average even if you clicked that your over 18 or 21, depending on the laws of the state, you have to apply for a membership to gain access. I have to admit that their are some sites out there that let you gain access very easily and those are the sites that should be regulated.