Censorship and the Internet:
Freedom of speech has been one of the most important and fought over freedoms that this country has ever known. Since its commercial inception in 1992, the Internet, has been a topic of debate for the past six years. The wide spread argument has to do with the content that the Internet provides. So, when congress began it's hellish quest of censoring one of the worlds fastest growing sources of information it was no wonder that an anti-censor campaign would begin. This bitter argument has been debated, legislated, and written about very extensively over the last couple of years. Although most people agree that the internet contains some content that children should not view, censoring the entire internet will cause more of a problem because it will infringe on the First Amendment and other civil liberties that Americans have fought and bled over for the past 200 years.
Almost three years ago, Congress approved the Communications Decency Act, (CDA) which "was designed to protect children by prohibiting "indecent" speech or images from being sent through cyberspace."(Quittner) This law seems somewhat harmless at a first glance until you begin to read some of its clauses. One of the biggest groups that combated this issue was the CIEC, or Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition. The CIEC soon began to find problems with this bill as the so maticulously stated on their web site "It is also important to note that the CDA is not about child pornography, obscenity, or using the Internet to stalk children. These are already illegal under current law."(CIEC) The article then states "instead, the CDA prohibits posting "indecent" or "patently offensive" materials in a public forum on the Internet -- including web pages, newsgroups, chat rooms, or online discussion lists."(CIEC) This law would prohibit "texts of classic fiction such as the "Catcher in the Rye", "Ulysees", and the "7 dirty words", and other materials which, although offensive to some, enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment if published in a newspaper, magazine, or a book, or in the public square."(CIEC) A very heated topic indeed for the CIEC and the rest of the Internet community who where baffled by the contradictoriness of congress's new law.
One of the most concerned online and also published magazines in the world that has anything to do with the Internet is Hot-Wired magazine. This publication has been one of the most informative, if not the most informative, magazine published online and off. Hot-Wired, has received numerous industry awards such as Best Online Publication, Computer Press Award and Top Web Sites of '96, Time Magazine. It is also now attars more monthly readers than the Wall Street Journal Interactive, and ABCNews.com. Hot-Wired, now famous for rallying one of the most infamous protest against Internet censorship published an article describing the protest. "Within minutes of last Tuesday's news that a House committee had voted to incorporate an "indecency" clause into the proposed telecom bill, a collective panic spread through San Francisco's Multimedia Gulch."(Irwin) The author of the article then stated "Informed by word of mouth, a handful of pamphlets, and, most efficiently, the Internet, more than 500 protester gathered on the 14th of December in the heart of San Francisco's Internet community - SOMA's South Park - to collectively oppose indecency standards that could jail or substantially fine anyone who chooses to use certain "profane" words on the Net."(Irwin) One of the Internets most prolific advocates for freedom of speech in Cyberspace is Mike Goodwin.
Mr. Goodwin is the founder of the EFF, (Electronic Frontier Foundation) a non-profit organization that deals with the protections of civil liberties in the information age. He was one of the many honored guests that attended the protest rally in San Francisco and was quoted as saying "Take a moment now and listen." Goodwin ripped a copy of the First Amendment in half. "That's the sound of what the United States Congress has been doing to the Constitution in the last few months."(Irwin) "Similar protests occurred in Seattle and New York on Thursday, following the December 12th Internet Day of Protest which flooded Congressional switchboards with thousands of pleas to halt Internet censorship."(Irwin)
The many people who placed those calls to congress have now been working for a variety of Internet