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Should the Internet be censored

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    Should the Internet be censored? Censorship on the Internet is a very

    controversial issue. Many agree that censoring violates the First Amendment of free

    speech. Yet many also believe that it is the government’s duty to censor to protect

    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”? Some argue that

    obscenity is a matter of opinion and it cannot be defined. The truth is that it has been

    defined by the Supreme Court, and 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.” (Roth v. U.S., 354

    U.S., 476) Therefore, the First Amendment does not protect it.

    So what about the children? Should they be subject to obscenities and

    pornography? People opposed to Internet censorship argue that it is a parent’s job to

    supervise 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. 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. In an

    interview with the Washington Times, Donna Rice Hughes says, “Children do need to be

    online. They have benefits there…for their future…But we can’t have a system where if

    you type in ‘dog’ you get a picture of a woman having sex with a dog!” (Goode.)

    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

    Rebecca Fairweather, a high school graduate of 1999, does not agree with this. In

    the Detroit News she wrote that “ Rather than trying to prevent these actions, adults must

    try to keep youth from feeling desperate enough to commit such acts.” She feels that

    instead of focusing on eliminating the negative, focus on promoting the positive- sports,

    music, art, writing, dance, community service, and math and science because, Fairweather

    says “as any parent can tell you, young people will find a way to get what they want no

    matter what obstacles adults put up against them.” (Fairweather)

    Many schools still are required to use a filtering program to censor the research

    that students do in school. The Board of Education in New York City 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. 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.

    The Internet should be censored, not by the government, but by the individual. If a

    parents feels the need to keep their child away from the dangers of the Internet, they can

    use a filtering program on their computer. Censoring the Internet for children is not as big

    a problem as a lot of people make it out to be. The Internet can be a very safe and helpful

    resource for children to learn and research. As Rebecca Fairweather said, adults should be

    more concerned with gearing children towards positive material, than trying to cover up

    Works Cited

    “Born-again Rice answers call to clean up the Net.” Insight on the News; Washington;
    December 21; 1998; Stephen Goode.

    “Policing the Wild Net.” Time Magazine. South Pacific; June 21, 1999; Nathan Tripp.

    “Board Blocks Student Access To Web Sites.” The New York Times. New York;
    November 10, 1999; Anemona Hartocollis.

    “Teens Need and Deserve Time From Adults.” Detroit News. Detroit, Michigan; August
    18, 1999; Rebecca Fairweather.

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