Over the last two years, controversy has arisen over certain alternative newsgroups on the Internet. The specific groups, ones containing obscene and pornographic material, have been censored by several Canadian universities. Targeted groups include: alt.sex.bondage, alt.sex.stories, alt.sex.discussion, alt.sex.bestiality and alt.tasteless . Unfortunately, censorship of sexually explicit material does not maintain free speech as a fundamental principal in our free and open society. Censorship on the Internet is impractical and discriminatory as it can not be universally imposed and hinders intellectual freedom.
The Internet has opened the world of computer communications for Canadian university students. Often described as the 'network of networks,' the Internet refers to a series of linked computers. Access to these networks can be obtained through computer science departments at Canadian universities. Students can 'travel' or 'surf' the networks to obtain information for research projects or to send electronic mail to friends across the world. More than 7 million people are attached to over 1.2
million hosts in 117 countries.
Censorship involves a change in the access status of material made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such modifications include restriction, removal, and sometimes even involves changing material to suit certain age groups. Specifically, the censorship of newgroups is a restrictive measure through which universities deny students access to material.
Supporters of the recent acts of censorship maintain that universities, as publicly funded institutions, should not be seen as enabling access to such offensive material. Richard Rosenburg, a leading Canadian expert in the field of computer communications explains, 'Experience indicates that under pressure, administrators at public institutions may be willing to sacrifice free speech over networks to appease loudly expressed concerns about pornography corrupting the morals of otherwise innocent students' (Rosenburg 301). This may be a slightly biased depiction, as Rosenberg himself is an advocate of free...