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Internet Censorship (3424 words)

Internet Censorship
The Internet is a wonderful place of entertainment and education but like all
places used by millions of people, it has some murky corners people would prefer
children not to explore. In the physical world society as a whole conspires to
protect children, but there are no social or physical constraints to Internet
surfing. The Internet Censorship Bill of 1995, also known as the Exon/Coats
Communications Decency Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. It would
make it a criminal offense to make available to children anything that is
indecent, or to send anything indecent with “intent to annoy, abuse,
threaten, or harass” (“Stop the Communications …” n.p.). The
goal of this bill as written(though not as stated by its proponents) is to try
to make all public discourse on the Internet suitable for young children. The
issue of whether is it necessary to have censorship on the Internet is being
argued all over the world. There are numerous homepages on the World Wide Web
discussing this issue, or asking people to sign the petition to stop government
censorship. The Internet was originally a place for people to freely express
their ideas worldwide. It is also one of America’s most valuable types of
technology; scientists use email for quick and easy communication. They post
their current scientific discoveries on the Usenet newsgroups so other
scientists in the same field of study all over the world can know in minutes.

Ordinary people use the Net for communication, expressing their opinions in the
newsgroups, obtaining up-to-date information from the WWW, acquiring files by
using FTP, etc. Censorship would damage the atmosphere of the freedom to express
ideas on the Internet; therefore, government should not encourage censorship. In
the Internet community, there is a large volume of technical terms. For this
reason, it is first necessary to examine the terminology specific to Internet.

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The Internet is a world wide computer network. The “Net” is frequently
used in place of Internet. In the words of Allison and Baxter, two experts on
Internet Censorship at the Monash University, “the Internet is comprised of
various digital media subsuming many of the distinct roles of traditional
media” (Allison and Baxter 3). Electronic mail (email), which is one
component of the Internet, approximates person to person letters, memoranda,
notes and even phone calls. Sound and pictures are sometimes sent along with
text. Email is mainly for private communication. Electronic mailing lists are
rather like club newsletters and readers have to contract-in or subscribe to a
list. Another term that is often used is electronic news (enews/Usenet), enews
is a broadcast, free to the Internet medium. It has some properties of radio or
television, particularly talk-back radio or television, in that the destination
is indiscriminate. The term FTP is also frequently used. File transfer protocol
(FTP) started as an Internet archival and retrieval medium, somewhat analogous
to traditional libraries. Files can be retrieved from distant computers using a
traditional text-based interface. The world-wide web (WWW), which is another
component of the Net, can be used to “publish” material that would
traditionally appear in journals, magazines, posters, books, television and even
on film. The term UNIX, “a widely heard computer term, is a multi-user,
multitasking operating system originally developed by Ken Thompson and Dennis
Ritchie, at AT&T Bell Laboratories, in 1969 for use on minicomputers”
(“UNIX” n.p.). To understand the background of the controversy, it is
also necessary to give a brief history on the Internet. The Internet was created
about twenty years ago in an attempt to connect a U.S. Defense Department
network called the ARPAnet and various other radio and satellite networks. The
ARPAnet was an experimental network designed to support military research; in
particular, research about how to build networks that could withstand partial
outages (such as bomb attacks) and still function. At about the same time the
Internet was coming into being, Ethernet local area networks (“LANs”)
were developed. Most of these workstations came with Berkeley UNIX, which
included IP (Internet Protocol) networking software. This created a new demand:
rather than connecting to a single large timesharing computer per site,
organizations wanted to connect the ARPAnet to their entire local network. The
demand keeps growing today. Now that most four-year colleges are connected to
the Net, people are trying to get secondary and primary schools connected.

People who have graduated from college where they have used the resources of the
Net in classes, know what the Internet is good for, and talk their employers
into connecting different corporations. All this activity points to continued
growth, networking problems to


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