Internet Censorship Threatens Freedom of Speech


Thesis: The vast cyber-frontier is being threatend with censorship from the government. Internet censorship should be left up to the individual not the governments discretion.

I. Censoring the Internet.
A. Clinton passes the C.D.A.
B. Our rights as Americans.
C. Exon's victory.
D. What's really online.
E. Strike to free expresson on Compuserve.

II. Where the Internet stands now.
A. Judges Panel.
B. Congress and other's opinions.
C. Background information.
D. Other opinions.

III. Solutions.
A. Family's responsibility.
B. Censorship Software.
C. Civil Rights.


After threatening the Communications Decency Act with a vetos of the past versions, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law on February 8, 1996.1 Before hand, congress approved the largest change of the nation's communications laws in 62 years. One of the largest controversial topics included in the bill is the censorship of pornography, which now is a strenuously enforced crime of distributing knowingly to children under 18. The congress overwhelmingly passed the bill with a landslide 414-16 House vote and a 91-5 Senate vote.2 It seems now that the wide bill might not be what it cracked up to be, as it stands now, anyone who might upload James Joyce's Ulysses could be placed in jail for two years and have up to a $250,000 fine.3 Representatives of on-line services industries were concerned about the bill, and feared they could be held criminally responsible for Internet conversations.4

"We face a unique disturbing and urgent circumstance, because it is children who are the computer experts in our nations families," remarked a concerned Rep. Senator of India Dan Coats.5 Although in reality, censorship would do little to stop the pornography problems. The bill is a nation legislation trying to control a international network, which is virtually impossible. According to the First Amendment, Americans were granted to write anything they please, whether it's indecent or not, several series of judicial decisions also helped the freedom down the road.6

Nebraskan Democrat James Exon, put together an informational binder known as the Blue Book to show the Senate about the goings on within the Internet.7 Along the pages of the Blue Book were pictures of people bound and being burned by cigarettes, people pierced with swords and people involved in sexual activities with animals.8 The Senate, acknowledging their ignorance of the Internet, passed Exon's proposal after seeing the pictures in the Blue Book.9 Along with distribution of pornography, a person carries the chance of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine which is a good reason to restrict much of the flow.10

The Internet is extremely massive, filled with usenet newsgroups, web pages, IRC channels, ftp sites, gopher sites and much more. The Internet is the last and largest frontier of uncensored speech, anything from friendly chat to child porn to bestiality goes on. Pictures of anything that can be imagined are most likely available to the searcher. Some estimate that over 30 million people are on the Internet. On IRC(Internet-Relay-Chat) a live time conversation can be held along with trading files from illegal computer game trading called warez to illegal picture trading goes on. 'Cybersex' is also a occupance that happens more in live chat areas then others. MUDs or Multi-User-Dungeons, live chat like IRC was first started for Role Playing uses like online Dungeons and Dragons, now among the MUD servers there are sexual MUDs for people interested in S&M along with other fetishes. Usenet newsgroups account for 11.5% of total Internet traffic and is a major distribution of smut pictures.11 The WWW also known as the World Wide Web is today's largest portion of the Internet as well as the fastest growing with well over 12 million pages accessible. Despite its gargantuan proportions, it still remains fairly clean from hardcore smut comparative to its size. BBSs seem to be the major uproar of censorship, although BBSs are NOT part of the Internet, many of their pictures found in them later become available to users via someone uploading them.12 Electronic Bulletin-Board Systems(BBSs) require a user to dial that computer directly thought the phone lines resulting in long distance charges and often monthly access fees.

In late December of 1995, a prosecutor in Munich struck a devastating blow to Compuserve and the larger picture of freedom of expression.13 This prosecutor was able to prevent the flow of information for 4 million people in 140 countries.14 By merely informing Compuserve that it was breaking