The Urgent Need for Internet Censorship
With the increasing popularity of the Internet, especially among children, parents and others have been concerned that young people have easy access to a wide range of pornography available online. They have pointed out that it is a relatively easy maneuver for children to call up salacious material at home or in libraries--simply by searching for key words like "porn" or "sex." The purpose of this paper is to amplify on this subject of the need for regulation of the Internet.
In February of 1996 Congress passed--and the president signed--the Communications Decency Act, which made it a crime to transmit "indecent" material to minors on line(Communications). But the Supreme Court, at the request of the ACLU, overturned key portions of that law--a move cheered by some civil libertarians and librarians, who argued that restrictions on the Internet amounted to curtailment of free speech. Many objected--and still object--to filtering devices--commercially available software that blocks access to some web sites that contain objectionable material.
They say that it would limit people's ability to have access-- thinking of adults in particular--to have access to information let's say about breast cancer or sexual harassment because they're keyed in on key terminology.
Despite those sentiments, some family groups and lawmakers are still demanding controls over what gets on the net. Several Internet industry leaders--hoping to head off legislation or strict regulation--announced their own voluntary plan to limit what is available to minors.
The Center for Democracy & Technology markets what is called "the Internet tool kit" which allows parents and users and communities to enforce and to choose their own diversity of values, simply by the use of settings on the software. This is a sample of the new filtering technology parents can use to block access to sites children may visit. The internet industry is establishing a public service campaign to inform parents about the danger of pornography online; and creating a national hotline to report incidents of cyber porn.
Ultimately, the only real solution is parental empowerment and parental education, so, therefore, a legislative solution may not create the kind of comfort that people seek and actually could, inadvertently, do some damage to dealing with the problem in a substantive kind of way. But some critics don't believe that voluntary industry efforts will be effective. Republican Senator Dan Coats of Indiana introduced a bill requiring all commercial web sites carrying material harmful to minors to block access or face criminal penalties. This bill rovided very stiff fines. The Communications Decency Act would have sent a very strong signal to the internet providers that if you get caught, if you do this and you get caught, it's not going to be, oh, well, we're sorry, we won't do it again; there's going...