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Free Speech Online: Right Or Privilege?

977 words - 4 pages

Free Speech Online: Right or Privilege?Should you be able to say what you want, and be able to publish anything on the internet? Many people are for freedom of speech, while many others are against it. I for one feel that speech on the internet should be free and people should be able to express their feelings openly on any topic, with only a few limitations. Also another concern with freedom of speech online is the safety of children who have internet access at home, and from schools and public libraries, these children have a vast selection of information at their fingertips. Should they be able to look up dangerous and explicit material? Also, the blocking of material can be seen as discriminatory, by blocking controversial issues such as race and religion.As the first amendment declares, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, " (qtd. in THOMAS) it is very feasible that this amendment pertains to the world wide web as well. There have been many recent Supreme Court cases where individuals have been charged with "cyber crimes" that some feel is only freedom of speech. Paul Trummel, a native of Seattle, Washington, spent 110 days in jail for posting phone numbers of his perceived enemies on his webpage (Freedom Forum). Tremmel was released, but was told to have the information deleted from the website within 4 days of the court hearing.A decision by the Supreme Court in 1997 made the internet a "unique medium" that is entitled to have the highest protection under free speech under the first amendment. This decision was a revision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that was passed in 1996. Referring to the internet, although well intentioned, the CDA was ineffective and failed to recognize the unique nature of this global, decentralized medium" (Center For Democracy & Technology 1). This revision was called Communications Decency Act. Such a huge barrier was broken because the internet has information on almost any topic, the information may be legit, or may be very opinioned, and now it could be distributed freely. Also, anyone can publish a website, so virtually anyone that has something to say can post information, pictures, and multimedia freely. The question would be exactly how much freedom of speech should be allotted to the users on the internet, and what is considered illegal and/or hazardous information?In 1999, President Clinton signed a law that would require schools that receive governmental funding to install internet filtering software to block access to materials that are obscene, include child pornography, and are harmful to minors. Soon after, the ACLU and EPIC challenged the law but were rejected, even though the 18 judge panel all agreed with the ACLU and EPIC, CIPA was still in effect....

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