Censor the Internet?

The freedom of speech that was possible on the Internet could now be subjected to governmental approvals. For example, China is attempting to res5trict political expression, in the name of security and social stability. It requires users of the Internet and e-mail to register, so that they can monitor their activities (Gates). In the United Kingdom, state secrets and personal attacks are off limits on the Internet. Laws are strict and the government is extremely interested in regulating the Internet with respect to these issues (Gates). Laws intended for other types of communication will not necessarily apply in this group. Through all the components of the Internet it becomes easy to transfer material that particular governments might find objectionably. However, all of these ways of communicating on the Internet make up a large and vast system. For inspectors to monitor every e-mail, every article in every Newsgroup, every webpage, every IRC channel, every Gopher site, and every FTP site would be near impossible.

Besides taking as extraordinary amount of time and money, attempts to censor the Internet violate freedom of speech, a right that is included in democratic constitutions and international laws (Silencing the Net...). It would be a breach of the First Amendment. The Constitution of the united States of America Declares that 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; or the right of the people peaceably to asse3mble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances (Constitution). Therefore it would be unconstitutional for any sort of censorship to occur on the Internet. Even though it is illegal, restrictions on Internet access and content are increasing worldwide under all forms of government.

In France, a country where the press generally has a large amount of freedom, the Internet has been in the spotlight. A banned book on the health History of former French president Francois Mitterrand was republished electronically on the World Wide Web (www). To enforce censorship of the Internet, free societies find that they are becoming more closed, and closed societies find new ways to crush political expression and opposition (Silencing the Net...). Vice President Al Gore, while at an international conference in Brussels about the Internet, said that Cyberspace is about protecting and enlarging freedom of expression for all our citizens... Ideas should not be checked at the border.(McCullagh) Another person attending that conference was Ann Breeson of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is quoted as saying, Our big victory at Brussels was that we pressured them enough so that Al Gore in his keynote address made a big point of stressing the importance of free speech on the Internet.(McCullagh) Many other organizations have fought against laws and have succeeded. A prime example of this is the fight that various groups put on against the recent Communication Decency Act (CDA) of the U.S. Senate. The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition, on February 26, 1996, filed a historic lawsuit in Philadelphia against the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Janet Reno to make certain that the First Amendment of the U.S.A would no be compromised by the CDA. Just the range of plantiffs alone shows the dedication that is felt by many different people and groups to the cause of tree speech on the Internet (Silberman). Words like *censored*, *censored*, piss, and tits. Words of which our mothers (at least some of them) would no doubt disapprove, but which by no means would be regulated by the government. Bet it\'s not just about dirty words. It\'s also it\'s also about words like AIDS, gay, and breasts. It\'s about sexual content, and politically controversial topics like drug addiction, euthanasia, and racism (Irwin).

In France, a high court has struck down a bill that promoted the censorship of the Internet. Other countries have attempted similar moves. The Internet cannot be regulated like other things can simply because it is not the same as anything else that we have. It is a totally new and unique form of communication and deserves to be given a chance to prove itself. Laws of one country cannot be enforced in another country and this is true with the Internet because the Internet