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Freedom Of Speech On The Internet

1449 words - 6 pages

Every American takes pride in the rights given to him or her. These rights are protected by the constitution, and are represented by the first ten Amendments. The First Amendment states that, "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" (U.S. Constitution Online). This means that Congress cannot make laws that infringe on a citizen's right to religion, freedom of speech, the right to peacefully assemble, and the right to petition the government to redress of grievances. Of that long list of freedoms every American is grateful for the freedom of speech, because it is by far the most used on a day to day basis. This also seems to be the right that is most often being questioned as to government involvement. For the safety of the general public the people have allowed the government to set limits to the amount of, "free speech" a person really has. It is easy to see when the freedom of speech is not being upheld in the real world, but can be difficult to detect in cyber space, for instance the internet.The World Wide Web started as an idea that focused around the government's need to communicate quickly in the time of a crisis. The government scientists who were, "developing networking technology in the 1960's knew that what they were building would be far bigger than themselves," (acm.org) few ever thought that the internet would ever be as big as it is today. Better technology was developed and approved for use by the government. On April 30, 1995, the Internet was released to the world; the government gave total control to the user and took all hands off (acm.org). The internet was off and was expanding at a very rapid rate.Today we know that hidden within this vast amount of knowledge and entertainment there are many dangers. Despite the danger and risks associated with and around the Web, it should still be a safe haven, where people can speak their minds free from censorship.The American government has tried to censor the content found on the internet. An example of this is the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, which was a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Supreme.lp.findlaw.com). This new law would make it illegal to transmit material that was thought "indecent" or "offensive" on the World Wide Web (Supreme.lp.findlaw.com). The Communications Decency Act was made law. The CDA was not about reinforcing existing laws, "the CDA is not about child pornography, obscenity, or using the Internet to stalk children. These are already illegal under current law. Instead, the CDA prohibits posting 'indecent' or 'patently offensive' materials in a public forum on the Internet -- including web pages, newsgroups, chat rooms, or online discussion lists" (ciec.org). This law breaks the First Amendment in an extremely...

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