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Internet Censorship

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Internet Censorship

Internet Censorship
The Internet is a new medium where many ideas and views are expressed. The question is should these things be censored, and if so how. The debate on Internet censorship is a very volatile controversy affecting anyone who has ever accessed the World Wide Web. The debate is between those who believe censorship interferes with our rights, and those who think it to be a medium that should be regulated just like TV. An article written by Ann Beeson and Chris Hansen called ?Fahrenheit 451.2? explores the faults with Internet censorship, e.g. how it violates our first amendment rights. Another article, ?It's Time to Tackle Cyberporn,? written by John Carr, takes the opposing view claiming the definite need for Internet censorship. While both articles successfully demonstrate their point Beeson and Hansen present their argument in a more convincing manner, making it more effective.
Beeson's argument is very organized and precise. She starts off by detailing the subject at hand, telling the reader of her disagreement with the opposing side, saying that their methods of censorship were a ?failure to examine the longer-term implication for the Internet of rating and blocking schemes?(590). She introduces the reader to what has happened so far in the struggle, stating various facts about what certain companies have done to ?please? the government in their wish for regulations on the Internet. These companies include Netscape and Microsoft who adopted a standard for an Internet rating system after the White House held a ?voluntary? meeting for industry leaders (590,591). She goes on to tell how industry standards for Internet censorship are being developed and the way they work. One such standard is the PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection) system, which is the main standard being used, providing a method for rating that is uniform for all internet content (591).
Another method of rating sites called 'self-rating,? is repeated by Beeson throughout the paper. Self-rating is a process designed by the government that asks web page designers to self rate their sites. This is not required, but with the default setting of most Internet censors, unrated sites are blocked out. She continues to offer recommendations and principles for what she believes should be the standard for Internet censorship by saying that Internet users should be able to choose what they want themselves or their children to see (593). Beeson then debunks the idea of self-rating, claiming what might be considered offensive to some might be considered very useful to others (593). She also goes on to argue that self-rating is ?burdensome, unwieldy, and costly? (594). For example, an art studio on the Internet might contain some nude pictorials, which to some might be considered explicit. Should that whole site be censored or should just the art that might be offensive be blocked, which would waste time and money, because they would have to pay someone to go through and block each one (594). She also lists the problems associated with trying to censor conversations on the Internet. For example, should a whole chat room be blocked just because one person cursed in it (595)? Finally Beeson illustrates how self-ratings will encourage government regulation, and will only benefit big commercial companies. Like the possibility that highly commercialized companies that have the resources to rate there sites to where the whole world will be able to see their site, opposed to a smaller company that doesn't have access to all those resources and won't have the rage of viewers that large companies will have (596).
Beeson goes on to show the problems with third-party rating systems. How can one company try to rate the whole Internet? She also discredits user based blocking software, showing how they are not 100% effective. These rating systems have been proven to block sites that might be considered useful, like a site on safer sex (598). Finally, being a librarian, she gives reasons why public libraries should not use blocking software. She demonstrates this using a quote from the American Library Association:
?Libraries are places of inclusion rather than exclusion. Current blocking/filtering software prevents not only access to what some may consider ?objectionable? material, but also blocks information protected by the First Amendment. The result is that legal and useful material will inevitable be blocked.
Beeson concludes with her reasoning why the Internet should not be censored. She uses reasons such as it breaks the first amendment. It also causes more harm by blocking useful sites than it helps.
Carr's article is based more on the issue of Internet censorship in the UK, but overall it applies to all countries. His argument is more opinionated, and it isn't as organized as Beeson's. Carr focuses more on the morality issue of Internet ...

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Keywords: internet censorship circumvention, internet censorship essay, internet censorship explained, internet censorship meaning in tagalog, internet censorship and freedom of speech, internet censorship games, internet censorship in turkey, internet censorship reading answers

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