Should the Internet be censored? This is a sticky question; no matter what answer you give to this question there will always be a valid argument in response to your answer. There are lots of arguments in the answer I found doing the research I did. The United States is not the only country with this problem. Because, remember now the Internet is worldwide and it involves every single country in the world. If a person thinks the Internet should be censored then the following question should be asked: Who should censor the Internet the federal government or parents?
Censorship on the Internet is a controversial issue. A lot of people agree that censoring violates the First Amendment of free speech. But many also believe that it is the government’s duty to censor to protect children and teenagers. The EFA (Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.) is an organization against Internet censorship. The EFA’s goals are “to advocate the amendment of laws and regulations in Australia and elsewhere which restrict free speech…and to educate the community at large about the…liberties issues involved in the use of computer-based communications systems.” (President of EFA) The EFA shares similar goals with the USA’s EFF (Electronic Frontiers Foundation) these organizations believe that free speech is a right and it will be taken away by censoring the Internet. Does freedom of speech include pornography and “obscenity”? A lot of people argue that obscenity is a matter of opinion and it cannot be define. There was a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1957 in the Supreme Court case of Roth v. U.S. the Supreme Court decided that obscenity was “outside the protection intended for speech and press at the time during which the First Amendment was written.” Therefore, the First Amendment does not protect it. Also there was an act signed by Bill Clinton Called the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in 1996 that censors the freedom of speech on the Internet. But the Supreme Court on June 26,1997 Ruled it Unconstitutional saying “As a matter of constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.” — Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority.
So what about the children? How does a parent regulate what is viewed through a computer? People opposed to Internet censorship argue that it is a parent’s job to watch over what web sites their children are going to. But parents argue that it is almost impossible to always be there to watch their children, especially for single parents and families where both parents work. The duty should not be left totally on the parents, but also the creators of these web sites. Parents have some responsibility, but they cannot watch over their children twenty-four hours a day. That is why the web site creators need to find ways to prevent underage people from accessing the page they have created. The web site PsyberNut on Protecting Children Online provides a valid argument for why the Internet should not be censored and why parents should be watching what their child views on the Internet. There are new programs/developments that can be used to block access to a site that is inappropriate for children, like sites that have pornography. These sites that provide these programs are Surfwatch, CYBERsitter, and Cyber patrol. These web sites really help parents control what there children view on the Internet when they are not being supervised.
Most people aren’t even looking for obscene web sites. The sites are hidden and are targeted towards people who aren’t even looking for it. For example “pop ups” open up when you go to certain web sites even though you never click on it. And obscenities and pornography isn’t all of the harmful material on the Internet that children can access. There are sites on how to make a bomb, how to hi-jack a car, and how to use a gun, as well as almost anything and everything imaginable. This can lead to serious or deadly results. Children don’t have the right mentality to posse’s information like “How to create a bomb”, because they might to build a bomb for “fun”. Many schools still are required to use a filtering program to censor the research that students do in school. The Board of Education has installed a filter on its computer system that blocks students from gaining access to any web sites that include categories like news and sex education. Even those of major new outlets, policy groups, and scientific and medical organizations were even blocked. This blocking program makes it almost impossible for students to do sophisticated research projects on the Internet in school. Teachers and parents have complained to the Board of Education. “The blocking program sweeps far too broadly,” (Hartocollis) comments Morman Segel, Executive Director of the civil liberations group. Teachers and parents feel it would be more efficient to use a filtering program that allows the Board of Education to set the standards and decide what to block and what not to block instead of the current program they have called I-Gear, which does not allow this option.
In conclusion I feel that the Internet should be censored, not by the government, but by the individual. If a parent feels the need to keep their child away from the dangers of the Internet, they can use a filtering program on their computer. The Internet can be a very safe and helpful resource for children to learn and to do research