Government Control Of the Internet Inhibits our First Amendment Rights

In the past decade, our culture has become heavily focused on the ability to move massive amounts of information across large distances quickly. Computerization has influenced everyone\'s life. The natural progression of computers and this need for ultra-fast communication has caused the development of a global network of interconnected computers. This global net allows people to send E-mail across the world in mere fractions of a second. Also, information is now accessible worldwide. Our democratic government senses the growing power of the Internet is doing all it can to control it. The government wishes to have total control: to view all the information circulating the web, to read our private e-mails, to peek into our chat rooms, and to limit our private conversations in many ways. The government wants to be the next big brother watching you! No matter how small, any attempt by the government to interfere in Internet information traffic will suffocate the greatest communication breakthrough of all time. Government censorship of the Internet damages our right to freely express ideas; therefore, the government should not be allowed to enforce censorship.

At present, the web is the spirit of the first amendment of the constitution: free speech and right to privacy. Every American values freedom of speech and their privacy is something essential. "The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty." -- Former Lord Chief Justice Halisham. (

The key to the worldwide success of the Internet is that it does not limit its users. The web is a place where people may speak their minds without being reprimanded for what they say, or how they choose to say it. Jim Exon, a democratic senator from Nebraska, wants to pass a decency bill regulating the Internet. Exonís bill would apparently criminalize private e-mail. The government should not be allowed to read our private e-mails. It should not be illegal for me to say on the Internet the same things I would say over the phone. Censorship threatens to destroy the freelance atmosphere of the Internet that the majority of us treasure so much. If we allow the government to interfere with our lives to such a degree, sooner or later it will turn into Communism or a dictatorship.

Our government wants to maintain control of the newest, greatest form of communication: the Internet. They are trying to use the protection of children as a smoke screen to pass laws that will allow them to regulate and censor. Although the protection of children is an issue, I believe that it is not the governmentís concern. There is software currently being released that promises to block children\'s access to known X-rated Internet newsgroups and sites. Regardless of what types of software or safeguards are used to protect the children of the Information age, there will always be ways of getting around them. Altered views of an electronic world translate easily into altered views of the real world. Parents should teach their children that the Internet is just like the real world, and show them how to enjoy the positive and avoid the negative. Censorship is a less important issue than good parenting. Raising well-disciplined and smart children isnít the government\'s responsibility, itís the parents.

There are five major software programs parents can use to censor unwanted materials on the Internet. They are