Should it be legal to release certain indecent content in print but no
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Should it be legal to release certain “indecent” content in print but not electronically through the Internet? This question has plagued many in years past and will continue to be a source of controversy for years to come. Supporters of Internet censorship believe that this new information medium, currently unregulated and expanding at an alarming rate, must be filtered and controlled to avoid the risk of so-called ‘undesirable content’ being easily accessible by minors (or, in some cases, anyone). The goal of these individuals and organizations is, essentially, to have laws put in place like those to which the television and radio industry are subjected. Many others strongly oppose any type of Internet censorship; they, along with other arguments, cite United States citizen’s constitutional right to Freedom of Speech. The majority of these advocates propose self-regulation for concerned individuals (such as parents). For the majority, the quick expansion of the Internet has come as a surprise; and matters such as this should be taken into careful consideration for the future of the Internet, our children, and, to some extent, our society.
At first, the Internet was only used by military personnel for national security purposes. Then, its horizon broadened to include computer hobbyists and corporations. Now, because of its flexibility and ease of use, it is part of the life of mainstream America. Because of this so-called ‘explosion’ in the number of households and institutions going online, some have suggested that the Internet be regulated to keep indecent and vulgar content from appearing. Although bills have been proposed to do just what these people wish, as of this point, all of them have been struck down in the United States Congress.
Pro Internet Censorship
Bills such as the Protection of Children from Computer Pornography Act of 1995 (PCCPA) began to appear before the House and Senate when organizations such as Enough is Enough lobbied the Senate for legislation to protect children from online pornography:
…Women speak with a special authority on the issue of pornography—for we, and our children are its primary subjects…and its primary victims. Pornography demeans and degrades women, victimizes children and ruins men. It contributes to domestic and spouse abuse, rape, incest and child molestation. And a great share of it is not protected speech, any more than libel, slander or false advertising is protected speech; therefore, it is not a 1st Amendment issue. It is not legal material. Many Americans do not realize this fact. (Dee Jepsen)
Pornography is not the only means of content that many want regulated on the Internet; some contend that hate speech should not be allowed to be openly accessible either. Some oppose hate groups have used the Internet as a medium to spread their message, discovering that it costs much less, and reaches a larger audience than they were able to do beforehand.
Supporters of regulating the Internet believe that it is a powerful tool, which with near total anonymity is easy to abuse. They profess that scamming and harassing other users is not free speech and those people can not hide behind the First Amendment.
When the Constitutional Decency Act (CDA) went on trial, “the Justice Department argued that the CDA is necessary because "The Internet threatens to give every child a free pass into the equivalent of every adult bookstore and every adult video store in the country" (Mattos).
Supporters of the CDA, such as President Bill Clinton, believe the bill is Constitutional: "I remain convinced, as I was when I signed the bill, that our Constitution allows us to help parents by enforcing this Act to prevent children from being exposed to objectionable material transmitted through computer networks" (Clinton).
With regulations to restrict indecent content put in place, children would be able to browse the Internet freely and there would be no need for filtering software or to monitor them. Laws passed to restrict free expression on the Internet would make it safer, easier, and more useful for all involved.
Con Internet Censorship
Other activists believe that censoring the Internet is a ridiculous, unconstitutional, and impractical solution to the problems of indecent content. The majority of these opponents propose “self-regulation”, either through a parent watching his/her child or blocking software that does not let a child access inappropriate material. People against censoring the Internet
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Pornography law, Content-control software, Internet censorship, Privacy, Freedom of speech, Censorship, Communications Decency Act, Internet censorship in the United States
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