The Internet has become a growing source of entertainment and information over the past years. Statistics say, there are "over two million new Internet users per month" (NTIA). More than half of all Americans are "online." "In September 2001, 143 million Americans, or about 54% of the population were using the Internet" (NTIA). As more and more people
Become familiar with the internet, the potential of its contents grows rapidly, at an uncontrollable rate. Why uncontrollable? Because in some cases there are no restriction to what can be put one the internet, what can be viewed on the internet, or who can view what is on the internet. Just about anything and everything can be found on the internet. With something such as the internet, which contains virtually an infinite amount of space, more is being added than taken away. Therefore with the growing amount of users, the contents grows as well. Different people use the internet for different things with no worries, because they have the right to. But should everybody have these privileges? With all these people using the Internet, shouldn't there be a restriction on what can and cannot be seen on the internet? Some answer yes, some answer no. For many reasons there is no determinant of who is right or wrong.
There are numerous reasons why the Internet should be censored. The major argument for censorship that has accumulated the most attention deals with the protection of children. "The issue of morality and children has become a leading factor in the struggle over whether or not to attempt to censor the Internet" (Friedman 25). Statistics say that "75% of children ages 14-17 use the Internet and 65% of children ages 10-13 use the Internet" (NTIA). Children can access the Internet at home, at school, at public libraries or at a friend's house. There is so much indecent material on the Internet, such as pornography that children should not be exposed to. How many children have already been exposed to this type of material on the internet alone? That remains uncertain, however it takes merely curiosity driven from TV programs, or even a friend, for an underage child to go on the internet and view material beyond what is meant for them to see. These sites, while they may come with an X-rated warning to not enter unless over 18, are still accessible to children, or whomever wishes to enter. Given the fact that there are warnings on such sites, there is still no guarantee that the viewer is of legal age. Children who aren’t of age, are most likely not mature enough to be exposed to such material, therefore the potential of permanently affecting a child’s morality remains high. The Communications Decency Act, or CDA was a proposed law on Internet Censorship that was overturned. "Senator Jim Exon (D-NE), co-author of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), are in favor of putting strict laws into place regulating the Internet in order to protect children: "The Decency Act stands for the premise that it is wrong to provide pornography to children on computers just as it is wrong to do it on a street corner or anywhere else" (Landier). Obviously one could go on for days supporting censorship of the internet with more than enough legit arguments, however there always remains two sides to every story. In this case; why not to censor the internet.
"There is no question that it is important to protect America's future and its children. But the issues involved address some of the most cherished precepts in the Constitution. One of the key dilemmas is to find a way of reconciling the protection of children's rights without infringing on the rights of American adults" (Friedman 26). ‘til the day America is no more, people will always fight for their rights, regardless. This makes sense, for these rights are in the constitution which was the foundation of our country. While some may find pornography offensive and repulsive, there are many who indulge in this pastime. And those who wish to have the right to, given to them by the Constitution. We as a people have no choice but to accept this. We as a people have no right, to take another’s away based on an opinion, regardless of how many oppose it. The first amendment gives all the right to "freedom of speech of the press." This includes the Internet, and guarantees each individual the right to express themselves and view what they want on the Internet. When dealing with censorship, another topic that must be kept in mind is personal privacy. Not all material on the internet is meant to be pornography. Some people keep their personal material on the internet and share it with certain individuals. For example, videos or pictures shared by distant friends, my resort to the internet as their only way of sharing, given their geographical location. There should not be any censorship for someone’s personal material because they are the only ones that should be viewing it anyway. If all private material were to be censored at all times, it would most definitely not be considered private, or personal. Total internet censorship is an extremity of what should be done. Although in this case, how or where would one draw the line between censorship, and privacy. It remains subjective. The Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition or (CIEC), is working to not censor the Internet. Who are we to take away rights granted to us by our Founding Fathers? They may have not been referring to pornography on the Internet, but it is the same principal. And if we were to take away these rights in any way it might very well be the biggest contradiction of the constitution yet.
Personally, I believe that the Internet should not be censored. Freedom of speech was given to us by the Constitution. The rights have been ours for centuries and should not be taken away today, in modern society. I think that some kind of compromise could be reached between censoring the Internet, and protecting our children. After all, children are our most precious resources and they should be treated like they are. They should be protected, the children of today are very much the future of tomorrow. Eventually there must be a solution to regulate who should be able to view, what should be censored, and an effective way of enforcing it. Otherwise our constitution will hold a lesser value that is has for centuries, and when the rules have been broken once, it most likely will happen again Much of the material accessible on the Internet is offense to some adults, but those adults are not obligated to look at it. It is easily avoidable. And as for children viewing questionable material at home, servers such as America Online allow "Parental Controls" where parents can block their underage children from viewing certain sites. To this day there are numerous parental control programs they help avoid accidental, or deliberate, encountering of explicit material on the internet, none of which are guaranteed. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and is allowed to voice it. This right is granted to us by the same amendment that gives us the right to express ourselves on the Internet.
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