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Essay/Term paper: Communications decency act: regulation in cyberspace

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Information Technology

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Communications Decency Act: Regulation In Cyberspace

David Hembree
October 23, 1996
Dr. Willis

Being one of millions of surfers throughout the Internet, I see that
fundamental civil liberties are as important in cyberspace as they are in
traditional contexts. Cyberspace defined in Webster's Tenth Edition dictionary
is the on-line worlds of networks. The right to speak and publish using a
virtual pen has its roots in a long tradition dating back to the very founding
of democracy in this country. With the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications
Act, Congress has prepared to turn the Internet from one of the greatest
resources of cultural, social, and scientific information into the online
equivalent of a children's reading room. By invoking the overboard and vague
term "indecent" as the standard by which electronic communication should be
censored, Congress has insured that information providers seeking to avoid
criminal prosecution will close the gates on anything but the most tame
information and discussions.
The Communications Decency Act calls for two years of jail time for
anyone caught using "indecent" language over the net; as if reading profanities
online affects us more dramatically than reading them on paper. Our First
Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press...." The Act takes away this right. The Constitution-
defying traitors creating these useless laws do not they understand the medium
they're trying to control. What they "claim" is that they are trying to protect
our children from moral threatening content.
This "protect our helpless children" ideology is bogus. If more
government officials were more knowledgeable about online information they would
realize the huge flaw the Communication Decency Act contains. We don't need the
government to patrol fruitlessly on the Internet when parents can simply install
software like Net Nanny or Surf Watch. These programs block all "sensitive"
material from entering one's modem line. What's more, legislators have already
passed effective laws against obscenity and child pornography. We don't need a
redundant Act to accomplish what has already been written.
Over 17 million Web pages float throughout cyberspace. Never before has
information been so instant, and so global. And never before has our government
been so spooked by the potential power "little people" have at their fingertips.
The ability for anyone to send pictures and words cheaply and quickly to
potentially millions of others seems to terrify the government and control
freaks. Thus, the Communications Decency Act destroys our own constitution
rights and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Mill, Brandeis,
and DeToqueville. It's funny, now that we finally have a medium that truly
allows us to exercise our First Amendment right, the government is trying to
censor it. Forget them! Continue to engage in free speech on the net. It's
the only way to win the battle.


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