Out of all of the topics I have come up with so far, none of them aggravates me more than this one. Right now, the House of Representatives and Congress are preparing to finalize a vote on whether the Exon Telecommunications Decency Act should be passed or not (Go here for more info). This Act would enforce censorship on the Internet, or at least American users, in an effort to clean up the content so children can use the Internet. Users would be forced to report anyone who posted pornography or even said a "dirty" word. This restriction placed upon the Internet would hurt it severely if people actually obeyed, but would more likely cause some sort of protest since I don't know many people who would actually cooperate with this act. The act itself is really much more detailed, and so I placed the link to CDT above for your convenience. I am a newbie to the Internet, but I have already learned what amazing possibilities this Internet will open up in the future. Just imagine a world where a classroom can hook up in India and listen to a translated lecture being held in Los Angeles, or maybe even interact with that lecture! And that's just a limited look into the future!
There are no guidelines or regulations beyond user courtesy, and I think that scares the U.S. government. Imagine that! Something the government can't control! I am in favor of laissez faire and how businesses should be regulated as little as possible (things like monopolies SHOULD be broken up by the government). Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The less government we have, the better - the fewer laws and the less confided power." Don't you agree? I bet if these folks up in Washington D.C. actually USED the Internet, they'd realize how beneficial it was. Pornography and sex? This is a very, very small part of the Internet compared to the vast archives of information on all periods of world history and art. Businesses and organizations are using the World Wide Web to advertise and spread their name around beyond their base city. They are creating business which then provides money for the economy. You can now work with your bank online, making it much more convenient (hehe, unless you're paranoid about that Netscape bug).
Pedophiles? It's the parents' responsibility to keep tabs on what the children are up to. A little while ago, some kid ran away from home to live with a man he met online. The shocking thing was that his parents didn't even know about the whole thing until their son ran away! Parents shouldn't watch their kids like hawks, but they should at least know if their kid is getting harassed or is skipping school because of the Internet. Sure, software to lock certain areas away from kids should be written. But to deny every American user access to the Internet and its wealth of information just because some out-of-touch politician believes everything he catches word of from Ricki Lake? Besides, it isn't easy to find pornography on the 'Net unless you've had a lot of experience with browsing, eh? Heck, it's easier for a kid to get a REAL Playboy magazine than to find one online.
Here, try MIT's "The Tech", a huge site devoted to Greek literature and more. Or perhaps visit NASA, that place where you're starving money so they can't attempt to unlock the great mysteries of the universe (or find a new energy source). *cough* Then again, if you're really convinced the Internet's bad, go check out Playboy.
The Internet is a completely new medium which involves the entire globe. Such a new cyberworld cannot be placed under old laws and regulations. If any laws must be placed upon the Internet, completely new laws must be created. We've never seen anything like the Internet before... And besides, how are you going to police an international network? Other countries don't have to follow the same laws that the U.S. does. Also, envision little packets of data flying through fiber optics links, carrying pornography. Are you just going to snag it from the line and do something about it? No, all you can do is confiscate e-mail or rely on people to do your dirty work for you. History repeats itself, and if a majority of Americans don't want to do something, they won't. Remember Prohibition? You're not going to be able to force Americans to report people who swear or pass nude pictures of models around. Heh, perhaps this is just a smokescreen for the politicians so we won't investigate their black-handed dealings.
And what of censorship, anyway? Why? If I want to fucking curse to get my damn opinion across, even if it's shitty, I'm allowed to as long as I don't do it in excess. The Internet is a good community. We police ourselves and get rid of people who don't follow the rules of the newsgroup or the MUD. On the newsgroups, I've seen many times when people who post filth or threats lose their Internet access because of a few dozen e-mails to the sysadmin. Look, we don't need help policing ourselves, and even if we did, we wouldn't need the government to do it for us.
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