Presently, it seems that the Internet is playing a very important role in everyone’s daily life. This multipurpose network has many different functions useful for everyday work and entertainment. Due to the freedom of the Internet various debates and protests have come to disagree with its open form of communication. Because of the misuse of the internet many people believe that there should be some kind of internet censorship, while others are against internet censorship stating that “it is both unnecessary impossible to implement and that because of its nature the internet should be afforded the same freedom and protection as the print media” (Bradsher 2).
People that are in favor of internet censorship believe that the internet in unregulated and that unlike any other form of communication available today is open to abuse and misuse in many different ways. Anyone can use the Internet to send almost any type of data to anyone. This leaves it open to abuse in ways unheard before because data can be transmitted anonymously and secretly. While these people fight for Internet censorship others argue against it. The basic argument made by people who oppose Internet censorship is that it should be granted the same rights as any other means of communication. These people state that the Internet “allows for the first time for everyone in a group to have the same opportunities of engaging in and partaking of debates” (Bradsher 2). It doesn’t discriminate against anyone because of sex, religion or race and its open for with disabilities who are very often excluded from other media outlets to access and contribute equally.
The magazine Society states that “the Internet has been shown to be used by pedophile rings across the world to trade in pictures and to encourage their depraved and sick habits” (37). This makes it impossible to stop juveniles using it to access pornography because there is no way of knowing someone’s age. People can use the Internet to impose themselves on others; anonymous email can be sent by people; people can log onto chat servers and interrupt by saying things, which offend or upset those already communicating. “People who have had no access to pornography and other depravities are using the Internet to get at something that they would otherwise never be able to see” (Society 38).
While there are people favoring Internet censorship there are others that are against it. Bradsher sates that “to censor the Internet would fundamentally harm it and destroy the equality, which makes it most popular – its freedom” (3). People like and use the Internet because they feel they can come onto it, talk and email hundreds of others across the world. Debaters against Internet censorship believe that there are simply too many users of the Internet to be able to ensure that one doesn’t offend anyone. Many of the most important newspapers and news organizations are moving to the Internet. “If censorship is introduced our national media will be severely curtailed in a way which would never be acceptable if it were to be done to the print media” (Bradsher 3).
Those against Internet censorship state that “making commercial providers responsible for the activities or their customers is fundamentally unfair” (Society 38). If a costumer is allowed use the Internet then unless you watch and monitor every word or data they send then it is very easy for them to do something unwanted. To try and carry out this from of control would make the entire Internet unworkable. While those in favor of Internet censorship sate that “all other forms of communication TV Radio Satellite are regulated and strictly controlled. Why should the Internet not be” (Society 38). The rights of the child to protection from pedophilia and pornography outweigh the rights of users who wish full freedom.
The web is unlike any other form of publishing today. It allows people to publish quickly and quietly. People can set up pages that are unavailable unless one knows the address. This allows for the publishing of child porn and other dangerous material such as instructions for bomb making available without even the owner of the computer knowing about it. People believe it must be strictly controlled; they can set up links to bring people to web pages they don’t want to see and can subject them to images and text about the basest forms of immorality. Children can use the web to find pictures, videos, and texts about subjects that are not suitable.
Bradsher sates that “the web should be afforded the same protections as currently apply to the printed word” (4). To ban certain newsgroups and web sites would force the pornography “underground” (Bradsher 4). People would still post their files but would have to do so under cover.
This would mean those not wanting that material could have it forced upon them. “Individual users and parents, not the government, should decide what material is appropriate for their children” (Bradsher 4). Parents can make use of the new porn blocking software to stop children accessing sites, which they feel, are inappropriate for children. Bradsher states that “blanket censorship effects very serious and worthwhile organizations like those involved in the fields of breast cancer, rape, HIV/aids and others working on behalf of marginalized and disadvantaged groups” (4). People must be entitled to view and obtain whatever information they want to as long as they are not hurting other people in the process.
Those in favor of internet censorship propose different measures to deal with the internet such as: “make it a criminal offense to transmit child pornography across the internet; make it illegal to send unwanted emails to people when they make it clear they are not interested; instigate some way of controlling all forms of communication to ensure compliance with regulation, and outlaw the publishing of offensive and obscene information” (Society 39).
Bradsher propses that “the making available of new technologies to parents which block all unwanted sites to ensure their children can ‘surf safely’” (4) and that “the introduction of a rating system where each page contains a few bytes of data which identify content type, whether suitable for minors, Christians etc. and would warn those concerned before loading up data” (4).
As a result, Internet censorship is a topic of many debates and those in favor and against it state their own ideas and perceptions of what is appropriate and not appropriate for the benefit of our society.
Bradsher, Keith. “A no to Internet censors.” The New York Times
February 2000: 2-4.
“Internet Censorship Growing” Society July 2000: 37-40.