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The Internet can be a very disturbing and adult medium. There are parts of the Internet that should not be viewed by children. Explicit information can be found which is intended for an adult audience but children who have access to the Internet have become exposed to this material. The question at hand is who is responsible for preventing these children from viewing this material. Censoring the entire Internet would be one capable option. Though this option would be effective but it wouldn't be practical. Censoring the Internet would limit what adults could view and communicate. Owners of Internet servers should know of the possible information and people that can be found in this medium. Having the access to the vast information available on the Internet, a responsibility is needed. Censorship of the Internet is not needed as a whole, but the reasons for censorship are understandable. These reasons though, should be the responsibility of the individual user, not the government. Relying on the government is not the answer.
Prevention of children viewing and having access to elicit material can be achieved without banning the material from the Internet. I fully believe in censorship of the Internet: Censorship by the parents for their children. All is needed is responsibility by the parents of the children. If you are a parent willing to provide your child access to the Internet, then you need to take precaution. Most parents would prevent their child from looking at the adult section in a movie store, which in many cases they can get access to, then why would they allow their children access to such material on the internet?
The Internet is something that most of us must buy access to and which we then choose to surf on our own. And does the government really have the right to tell parents what books and magazines they can let their children read at home or what television programs or motion pictures they should let their children watch? (Ford Marrin Esposito Witmeyer & Gleser, L.L.P.)
It is the parent's responsibility to limit the access of the Internet for their children. There are many options, which can prevent children from the access to the illicit material, which can be found through the Internet.
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"Censorship of the Internet is Wrong." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Sep 2019
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Another issue is the vast area the Internet reaches. If the United States should prohibit certain material over the Internet, does that justify that other countries, which used the same Internet programs, loose out on that material? The Internet doesn't start and end in a certain place. "Because of their international nature, the networks operate outside the framework of First Amendment protections familiar to most Americans."(Lewis 67) It would be very hard for every country, which is on the Internet to come together and make up a set of rules to outlaw certain material. "Nations have different views on what is permissible on the Internet."(Oumarou 38) The only way a country can effectively censor the Internet without hindering other countries access is to follow in China's footsteps. That would be to control who gets access to the Internet and regulate what they are using it for, also known as a communist government. "The responsibility for any censorship rests not with a central authority but with the administrators of the thousands of private and public computer networks."(Lewis 67) If there were laws, such as the Communications Decency Act of 1995, established by the United States government outlawing "indecent" material posted by users, there would still be companies from different countries feeding this material into the country. "Traditional media are identifiable and have a physical or material component that the authorities can call to account when they consider that the law has been broken." (Oumarou 38)
People who gain access to the Internet should be responsible enough to find out what exactly can be found there. Along with all of the information provided which would be positive to the user, they should know about all of the information that would be disturbing to the user. If then the user feels the Internet is worth it, it is their choice to purchase access the Internet. It is the same way with cable television. One could own a television and have the basic channels, which are censored, but choose to purchase cable television, which provides more channels but lacks the censors.
The rationale behind censoring broadcast but not printed media is the fact that broadcasting signals come through the walls of our homes regardless of whether or not we want them. These signals are considered "uninvited" thus the government feels they have the right to control the contents of the broadcasts. Books, magazines, and other printed material must physically be brought into our homes, so they are considered "invited" and cannot be censored. By purchasing a computer and using software to peruse the Internet, we "invite information into our home. The information available on the Internet should be treated like the information available in books and magazines and not be censored. (Bruce)
Censorship can be an obstacle in the way of the progress of mankind. "If censors of the past had been successful in eradicating art, philosophy and literature they deemed 'indecent' or 'obscene', we would not be able to cherish some of the work by the world's greatest minds." (Bruce) How could we make any progress without understanding the great ideas of the past? The advancement of the world has depended on abstract thinkers. Ideas of prohibiting information containing sexual content would not just prevent children from viewing, but would prevent people who could really use the information. "When you prohibit discussion of sexuality, you cut off information about one of the most important areas of human activity. Some of this information (such as how to avoid AIDS) can save lives. To censor material given to 17-year-olds is to trample on the rights of youth." (Oram) Progress would be hindered since the Internet is such a crucial source of communication for high school young adults. For example, this paper probably wouldn't be possible if the Internet was censored because of the words and opinions I ran across during the research.
In conclusion, the main reason the Internet does not need to be censored is the option available to users to avoid what they don't want to see. Again, the user buys access to the Internet, so no one is forcing this information into their homes. With these reasons, censorship is wrong in limiting one's potential on the Internet.
Bruce, Marty. Censorship on the Internet. April 1996. September 11, 1998.
Ford Marrin Esposito Witmeyer & Gleser, L.L.P. Can Congress Censor the Internet? 1996. September 9, 1998.
Garfinkel, Simson L. "The Web's Unelected Government." Technology Review: MIT's Magazine of Innovation. November/December 1998: 38-46.
Lewis, Peter H. "No More 'Anything Goes': Cyberspace Gets Censored." CyberReader. Ed. Vitanza, Victor J. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 1996. Pages 66-69.
Oram, Andrew. Government Censorship-Does it protect Children? November 22, 1995.
Oumarou, Seydou Amadou, and Rene Lefort. "The Web, the Spider, and the Fly." UNESCO: The Courier. September 1998: 38-40.