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Analysis Of Internet Censorship

2870 words - 11 pages

Analysis of Internet Censorship

In mid March of 1998, a scientific break through occurred for the engineers at NASA. The space probe that they sent to Mars came back and, for the first time, contained readable and usable photographs of the planet's landscape. Full of pride over their latest achievement, NASA posted the information on the Internet. This allowed astronomy enthusiasts, students, and other interested individuals to take a first hand look at the, never before seen, Martian Landscape. (NASA)
One month later, two men in New Jersey were arrested for posting inappropriate information on the Internet. They had been caught displaying pornographic images of children as young as seven years old. These men were promptly prosecuted and sentenced to jail time and over $600,000 worth of fines. (Business Week)
Most recently the Supreme Court had to decide whether it was fair or not for music fans to download their favorite songs free of any royalties to the artists. The program, design by two college students, is named Napster and its designed to allow the sharing of mp3 music files over the Internet. Currently, the program is still available and operating with much support from its users.
Support is something the Internet is not lacking. The examples listed are a fragment of the cases brought before our judicial system concerning the content on the information super highway. Not only are these examples pulled out of a pool of many, but also it's also quite evident that the content is rather vast itself. Justice Stevens of the Supreme Court was quoted as saying "Internet content is as diverse as human thought." Herb Brody from Technology Review describes the Net as "the ultimate intellectual jumble…where brainy discussions of physics coexist with sophomoric essays, where sites that present satellite weather images are only a few mouse-clicks away from pornographic pictures" (Brody). The information available is vast because the World Wide Web is just that, worldwide. A media form this powerful that has wrapped itself around our planet has also made available communication resources never conceived of before. Because of the global nature of the Internet, it would be difficult for any group or company to restrict access to certain sites without outside help. Previously to any regulation, most sites containing "adult material" had warning labels on them to reveal it's inappropriate material in order to deter under age viewers. The obvious problem is that there is no way to tell if those under age individuals would use their "go back" button.
This poses the most highly debated issue that makes up a great deal of the controversial Internet censorship legislation. That particular issue is pornography on the information superhighway. Moreover, will this initial censorship start a slide that can't be stopped? Despite a statement made by Andrew Kantor, senior editor of Internet World, that pornography represents less then...

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