Essay, Research Paper: Internet Regulation 

Computers

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The Internet is a method of communication and a source of information that is
becoming more popular among those who are interested in, and have the time to
surf the information superhighway. The problem with this much information being
accessible to this many people is that some of it is deemed inappropriate for
minors. The government wants censorship, but a segment of the population does
not. Legislative regulation of the Internet would be an appropriate function of
the government. The Communications Decency Act is an amendment which prevents
the information superhighway from becoming a computer "red light
district." On June 14, 1995, by a vote of 84-16, the United States Senate
passed the amendment. It is now being brought through the House of
Representatives. 1 The Internet is owned and operated by the government, which
gives them the obligation to restrict the materials available through it. Though
it appears to have sprung up overnight, the inspiration of free-spirited
hackers, it in fact was born in Defense Department Cold War projects of the
1950s.2 The United States Government owns the Internet and has the
responsibility to determine who uses it and how it is used. The government must
control what information is accessible from its agencies. This material is not
lawfully available through the mail or over the telephone, there is no valid
reason these perverts should be allowed unimpeded on the Internet. Since our
initiative, the industry has commendably advanced some blocking devices, but
they are not a substitute for well-reasoned law. 4 Because the Internet has
become one of the biggest sources of information in this world, legislative
safeguards are imperative. The government gives citizens the privilege of using
the Internet, but it has never given them the right to use it. They seem to
rationalize that the framers of the constitution planned & plotted at great
length to make certain that above all else, the profiteering pornographer, the
pervert and the pedophile must be free to practice their pursuits in the
presence of children on a taxpayer created and subsidized computer network.3
People like this are the ones in the wrong. Taxpayer's dollars are being spent
bringing obscene text and graphics into the homes of people all over the world.
The government must take control to prevent pornographers from using the
Internet however they see fit because they are breaking laws that have existed
for years. Cyberpunks, those most popularly associated with the Internet, are
members of a rebellious society that are polluting these networks with
information containing pornography, racism, and other forms of explicit
information. When they start rooting around for a crime, new cybercops are
entering a pretty unfriendly environment. Cyberspace, especially the Internet,
is full of those who embrace a frontier culture that is222 hostile to authority
and fearful that any intrusions of police or government will destroy their
self-regulating world.5 The self-regulating environment desired by the
cyberpunks is an opportunity to do whatever they want. The Communications
Decency Act is an attempt on part of the government to control their "free
attitude" displayed in homepages such as "Sex, Adult Pictures, X-Rated
Porn", "Hot Sleazy Pictures (Cum again + again)" and "sex,
sex, sex. heck, it's better even better than real sex"6. "What we are
doing is simply making the same laws, held constitutional time and time again by
the courts with regard to obscenity and indecency through the mail and
telephones, applicable to the Internet."7 To keep these kinds of pictures
off home computers, the government must control information on the Internet,
just as it controls obscenity through the mail or on the phone. Legislative
regulations must be made to control information on the Internet because the
displaying or distribution of obscene material is illegal. The courts have
generally held that obscenity is illegal under all circumstances for all ages,
while "indecency" is generally allowable to adults, but that laws
protecting children from this "lesser" form are acceptable. It's
called protecting those among us who are children from the vagrancies of
adults.8 The constitution of the United States has set regulations to determine
what is categorized as obscenity and what is not. In Miller vs. California, 413
U.S. at 24-25, the court announced its "Miller Test" and held, at 29,
that its three part test constituted "concrete guidelines to isolate 'hard
core' pornography from expression protected by the First Amendment.9 By laws
previously set by the government, obscene pornography should not be accessible
on the Internet. The government must police the Internet because people are
breaking laws. "Right now, cyberspace is like a neighborhood without a
police department."10 Currently anyone can put anything he wants on the
Internet with no penalties. "The Communications Decency Act gives law
enforcement new tools to prosecute those who would use a computer to make the
equivalent of obscene telephone calls, to prosecute 'electronic stalkers' who
terrorize their victims, to clamp down on electronic distributors of obscene
materials, and to enhance the chances of prosecution of those who would provide
pornography to children via a computer." The government must regulate the
flow of information on the Internet because some of the commercial blocking
devices used to filter this information are insufficient. "Cybercops
especially worry that outlaws are now able to use powerful cryptography to send
and receive uncrackable secret communications and are also aided by anonymous
re-mailers."11 By using features like these it is impossible to use
blocking devices to stop children from accessing this information. Devices set
up to detect specified strings of characters will not filter those that it
cannot read. The government has to stop obscene materials from being transferred
via the Internet because it violates laws dealing with interstate commerce. It
is not a valid argument that "consenting adults" should be allowed to
use the computer BBS and "Internet" systems to receive whatever they
want. If the materials are obscene, the law can forbid the use of means and
facilities of interstate commerce and common carriers to ship or disseminate the
obscenity.12 When supplies and information are passed over state or national
boundaries, they are subject to the laws governing interstate and intrastate
commerce. When information is passed between two computers, it is subjected to
the same standards. The government having the power to regulate the information
being put on the Internet is a proper extension of its powers. With an
information based system such as the Internet there is bound to be material that
is not appropriate for minors to see. In passing of an amendment like the
Communications Decency Act, the government would be given the power to regulate
that material.

Bibliography
Buerger, David. "Freedom of Speech Meets Internet Censors; Cisco Snubs
IBM." Network World. Dialog Magazine Database, 040477. 31 Oct. 1994, 82.
Diamond, Edwin and Stephen Bates. "...And Then There Was Usenet."
American Heritage. Oct. 1995, 38.22 Diamond, Edwin and Stephen Bates. "The
Ancient History of the Internet." American Heritage. Oct. 1995, 34-45.
Dyson, Esther. "Deluge of Opinions On The Information Highway."
Computerworld. Dialog Magazine Database, 035733. 28 Feb. 1994, 35. Exon, James
J. "Defending Decency on the Internet." Lincoln Journal. 31 July 1995,
6. Exon, James J. "Exon Decency Amendment Approved by Senate." Jim
Exon News. 14 June 1995. Exon, James J., and Dan Coats. Letter to United States
Senators. 27 July 1995. Gaffin, Adam. "Are Firms Liable For Employee Net
Postings?" Network World. Dialog Magazine Database, 042574. 20 Feb. 1995,
8. Gibbs, Mark. "Congress 'Crazies' Want To Carve Up Telecom." Network
World. Dialog Magazine Database, 039436. 12 Sept. 1994, 37. Horowitz, Mark.
"Finding History On The Net." American Heritage. Oct. 1995, 38.
Laberis, Bill. "The Price of Freedom." Computerworld. Dialog Magazine
Database, 036777. 25 Apr. 1994, 34. Messmer, Ellen. "Fighting for Justice
On The New Frontier." Network World. Dialog Magazine Database, 028048. 11
Jan. 1993, S19."Policing Cyberspace." U.S. News & World Report. 23
Jan. 1995, 55-60. Messmer, Ellen. "Sen. Dole Backs New Internet Antiporn
Bill." Network World. Dialog Magazine Database, 044829. 12 June 1995, 12.
"Shifting Into The Fast Lane." U.S. News & World Report. 23 Jan.
1995, 52-53. Taylor, Bruce A. "Memorandum of Opinion In Support Of The
Communications Decency Amendment." National Law Center for Children &
Families. 29 June 1995, 1-7. Turner, Bob. The Internet Filter. N.p.: Turner
Investigations, Research and Communication, 1995. "WebCrawler Search
Results." Webcrawler. With the query words magazines and sex. 13 Sept.
1995.
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