Gov Internet Intervention
The Internet is a method of communication and a source of
information that is becoming more popular among those who are interested
in, and have the time to surf the information superhighway. The problem
with much information being accessible to this many
people is that some of it is deemed inappropriate for minors. The
government wants censorship, but a segment of the population does not.
Within this examination of the topic of, Government Intervention of the
Internet, I will attempt to express both side s of this issue.
During the past decade, our society has become based solely on the
ability to move large amounts of information across large distances
quickly. Computerization has influenced everyone's life. The natural
evolution of computers and this need for ultra-fas t communications has
caused a global network of interconnected computers to develop. This
global net allows a person to send E-mail across the world in mere
fractions of a second, and enables even the common person to access
information worldwide. With th e advances with software that allows users
with a sound card to use the Internet as a carrier for long distance voice
calls and video conferencing, this network is the key to the future of the
knowledge society. At present this net is the epitome of the F irst
Amendment: freedom of speech. It is a place where people can speak their
mind without being reprimanded for what they say, or how they choose to
say it.
Recently, Congress has been considering passing laws that will
make it a crime punishable by jail to send "vulgar" language over the net.
The government wants to maintain control over this new form of
communication, and they are trying to use the protect ion of children as a
smoke screen to pass laws that will allow them to regulate and censor the
Internet, while banning techniques that could eliminate the need for
regulation. Censorship of the Internet threatens to destroy its freelance
atmosphere, while
methods such as encryption could help prevent the need for government
The current body of laws existing today in America does not apply
well to the Internet. Is the Internet like a bookstore, where servers
cannot be expected to review every title? Well, according to an article
written by Michael Miller "Cybersex Shock." In
the October 10, 1995 issue of PC Magazine (p.75) "The Internet is much
more like going into a book store and choosing to look at adult
magazines." Although the Internet differs from other forms of media in
that one cannot just happen upon a vulgar site without first, either
entering a complicated address following a link from another source, or by
clicking on the agreement statement at the beginning of the site
acknowledging that one is of the legal age of 18.
This lawless atmosphere bothered many people, one such person is
Nebraska Senator James Exon (D), who is one of the founding fathers of the
Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996, Section 502, 47 U.S.C Section 223
[a], which regulates " any obscene or in decent material via the Internet
to anyone under 18 years of age. Exon's bill would also according to an
article written by Steven Levy in an April 1995 issue of Newsweek magazine
(p.53) "criminalize private mail," Levy also stated emotional "I can call
m y brother on the phone and say anything-but if I say it on the Internet,
it's illegal."
One thing that Congress seems to have overlooked in its pursuit of
regulations is that there are no clear bountries from information being
accessed over the Internet from over countries. All it takes is a click of
a mouse to access, even if our governmen t tried to regulate information
accessed from other countries, we would have no control over what is
posted in those countries, and we would have no practical way to stop it.
Today's Internet works much like that of our own human brains, in that if
one ba rrier or option is taking your brain tries to find an alternate
route or option. Today's Internet works on a similar design, if a major
line between two servers say in two countries, is cut, then the Internet
users will find another way around this obstac le. This process of
obstacle avoidance makes it virtually impossible to separate an entire
nation from indecent information in other countries. If it were physically
possible to isolate America's computers from the rest of the world, in my
opinion it woul d be devastating to our economy.
In an article published In Time magazine, written by Philip
Emler-Dewitt titled "Censoring Cyberspace: Carnegie Mellon's attempt to