Internet Censorship Research Essay
Imagine a place where you had access to any information you needed, at any time. Some might say that this place may not exist, but others could say that this defines the Internet. The Internet gives you access to all sorts of wonderful knowledge and other content, but with good comes some bad. Countries throughout the world have begun, or are trying to begin, censoring the Internet of these bad things.
Many countries in the Middle East and North African States have taken to filtering entire websites on religious grounds (Dobby) and just last year, several bills, such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and Protect IP (Prevent Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property act) proposed shutting down “rogue” websites that contained copyrighted property, but Internet censorship walks the fine line between protecting the public and preventing free speech. The problem with censorship is that once it starts, there may be no stopping it, and would violate the First Amendment, freedom of speech.
Mariam Adas, a Facebook campaign organizer for Jordanians against censorship, believes that there’s no way to do it right. Government will use blocking offensive/copyrighted/pornographic material as a precedent and then further block and filter other political, social and media websites (Ghazal). The aforementioned American bills, SOPA and Protect IP, where so carelessly written, that they would have the power to entirely shut down full websites, such as Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube for content submitted by users (Hitzik).
To pass censorship laws like these would totally contravene our own Amendments. Free speech is the right to speak you opinion in public without censorship. To take away that right would be unconstitutional, and un-American. For example, the British Matthew Woods, 19 years old, was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail for simply posting drunken, distasteful jokes about a recent abduction of two girls. While the remarks where horribly offensive, no one should be prosecuted for using their voice, and that voice should not be censored.
Doing such will lead our culture into believing it has a right not to be offended (Chu). One of the main reasons for supporting Internet censorship is to protect children from seeing indecent materials, such as pornography. This is understandable, but it is unfair to hinder adults from viewing adult materials, and for this reason there are many ways that parents and guardians can protect their children from such things, says Adas.
One may contact their internet provider, or download applications to filter out inappropriate websites (Ghazal). Filters are also placed on moral and religious standing. The dilemma is that there are many different moral and religious standings, and attempting to filter the Internet to a point that pleases every group would be impossible. People should be afforded the right to use their own discretion and self-adjudicate on what they would like digest. In the end, the issue of Internet censorship is always controversial.
Nevertheless, America is a society based on freedom, and the right to free speech does not belong only to the press, but to each individual person. This freedom of should be extended to the Internet, no exceptions. A quote, by Robert A. Heinlein comes to mind: “The whole principle is wrong [censorship]; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak. ” Works Cited Chu, Henry. “Britain Wrestles with Free Speech on Web. ” Los Angeles Times. 09 Nov 2012: A.
1 SIRS Issues Researcher. Web 05 Mar 2013 Dobby, Christine. “Muslim Countries Filter Web on Faith Grounds, Report Says. ” National Post. 04 Aug 2011: FP. 12. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 05 Mar 2013. Ghazal, Mohammed. “Internet Freedom Activists See Bad Precedent in Drive to Censor Porn Sites. ” Jordan Times. 02 May 2012. N. P. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 27 Feb 2013. Hitzik, Michael. “Big Guns Take Aim at Internet Piracy. ” Los Angeles Times. 11 Dec 2011: p. B. 1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web 25 Mar 2013.
I believe that the Internet is a good source of information on a wide variety of subjects. I have personally used the Internet for a year now and have found it very useful for helping me with my school work as well as being very entertaining. However I have been deterred by some of the information that is easily accessible and that anyone could look at such as, detailed instructions on how to make harmful or fatal explosives and illegal pornographic material. Growing concern about the availability of such material has provoked attempts to try and censor the Internet and restrict the access of harmful material.
In June of 1996, the American Court of Appeals looked into the issue of Internet censorship to determine what could be done about indecency on the net. The argument was about pornography on the Internet and whether it should be made illegal. The plaintiffs wanted to make it an offence to view/host an Internet site containing illegal pornography, mainly child pornography. The court argued that it was against the constitutional rights but these motions were granted to create the Communications Decency Act.
In this essay I shall look at reasons why censorship on the Internet would be a good idea as well as looking at reasons against this issue.
One reason supporting censoring the Internet is that of stopping people, mainly children, from getting access to unsuitable material. Explicit pornography is easily accessible on the net and children who use the Internet can be subjected to it. Pornography is illegal to view in most countries but because the Internet does not belong to any country, national laws aren t applicable and this is why pornography is hard to ban. Parents worry that their children may be disturbed if they access pornography so Internet filters have been developed to restrict people from getting hold of indecent material. Although pornography is a big issue on the Internet it is not the only material that is thought of as damaging . Information on how to make explosives is widespread as well as racially abusive material and for these reasons some unsuccessful attempts, mainly in American courts, to ban harmful material on the Internet have been made.
Another reason in favour of the censorship of the Internet is to stop the misuse of copyrighted material on the Internet. Things like music, pictures and films have been put on the Internet against the will of those who own the copyrights and it is difficult for them to stop this from continuing. Even though it is illegal people still use such material on the Internet because it is so easily available and free. Because it is free I feel that the copyright owners rights are being violated. Some things have been done towards stopping this for example, the record company, Geffen/DGC have said that only thirty seconds of their music can be played on the Internet and that they will take extreme action against those who ignore this motion. I do not think that it will be possible to stop copyrighted material from being put on the Internet because it is so widespread which makes it hard to regulate.
A reason against the censorship of the Internet is freedom of speech. People have a right to express themselves and to censor the Internet would be a violation of this right. The Internet is a good way to communicate and learn and if it is going to continue like that it must not be censored. The information people observe should not be regulated to what is obscene because people have different views and make different decisions . What is wrong or immoral to one person may be perfectly acceptable to another. Everyone also has a choice what they view when using the Internet and indecent material isn't forced in front of people just as people aren t forced to do what they don t want. A court case in America which is in favour of this view is one that took place in 1957. The Supreme Court decided that ...indecency standards cannot be applied to printed material, which brings up the argument, is the Internet a printed media or is it broadcast?
Broadcasting signals come through the walls of our homes regardless of whether or not we want them and are considered uninvited but books, magazines and other printed material must be physically brought into our homes so are invited thus cannot be censored. This reason opposing Internet censorship is often overlooked which I think is unjust.
My views on Internet censorship are mixed. I think that everyone has a right to be able to look at anything on the Internet and do not think it should be strongly censored but I do think that Internet regulations should be stricter, making it harder for minors to access explicit material. Overall I don t think the Internet will change much from how it is now and I think that there will still be the same issues surrounding it, but I think these issues should not be portrayed as being what the Internet is all about and I hope the Internet will be associated as being a good source of information and entertainment.