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Understanding Online Sexual Harassment Essay

3803 words - 15 pages

Communications has been in a process of evolution and revolution from the time the first cave person drew pictures on a wall through the inventions of the printing press, the telephone, radio, and television to the most current revolution – the Internet. This paper will attempt to briefly examine online sexual harassment and the constitutionally granted rights of the First Amendment. In the interests of brevity and to remain with in the parameters of the paper any discussion will exclude workplace sexual harassment, flaming and stalking. The issue of public versus private forum has been discussed in many papers and journals and will not be covered in this paper. We also assume that any reader of this paper has a basic knowledge of sexual harassment issues.

Any discussion of an area concerning the Internet must involve a fundamental understanding of its background and operations. The Internet began in the 1960’s as a method of preserving communications in the event of nuclear attack. It originally linked government and university computers. It was placed under the auspices of the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency and was known as ARPANET. From 1969 to 1979, Dr. John Postel developed a procedure, based on the use of addresses that allowed ARPANET to connect to an other network, operated by the National Science Foundation. "…Addresses are long strings of numbers that facilitate the sending of information from one network computer to another…to assist in remembering the addresses Postel and his coworkers assigned each computer a name, which a file on each computer translated into numbers. " With the growth and popularity of the Internet modifications to this system were necessary. "[T]he ‘nicknames’ were separated into groups called ‘domains’. The ‘top level’ domains consisted of two types: national domains, such as ‘.us’ for the United States or ‘.ca’ for Canada: and generic domains such as ‘.edu’ or ‘.com’. Separate computers administered each domain and "root server" directed traffic among thedomains". The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was responsible for assigning numbers. In 1992 this responsibility was transferred, at the governments’ request, to InterNic, administered by Network Solutions. In September 1998, The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established to take on this responsibility. ICANN’s board of Directors would be comprised of members designated by IANA and NSI would provide technical aide.

All information on the Internet travels via Internet Protocol (IP) from one network to other networks and finally to its destination through packets. "Headers carry addresses for the packet’s source and destination and instructions for how to reassemble packets when they reach their destination". Large messages are split into several packets and sent individually to their destination through routers. "IP packets first travel through physical, wired networks like Local...

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