Is any form of Internet regulation really possible?

Essay by mrsmartiepantsUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2004

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The Internet has taken the world by storm. Nowadays companies realise that when advertising their products it makes sense to reach the broadest possible spectrum. In today's society the Internet provides the broadest spectrum so it makes sense to have a web site or at least an e mail address. Whilst the Internet is boundless for communication, marketing and research users must also be aware of its downsides such as anonymity of paedophiles, abusers, terrorists and fraudsters.

Since the Internet is a relatively new technology, the policing and relevant laws are not yet in force to protect those who need protecting. This piece will attempt to put forward arguments for and against regulation of the Internet and then conclude whether regulation is possible. There are many arguments against the regulation of the Internet which are quite persuasive.

Since no one company actually owns the Internet this increases the difficulty of actually imposing regulations on the facility.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton once said that attempting to control internet content is like "trying to nail jell-o to a wall." (Menton, K. 2000). This is quite an accurate comparison as anyone can post anything on the Internet. Therefore it would be virtually impossible to screen the existing content as well as the potential content published daily.

Secondly the varying international and cultural standards of decency contribute greatly to these arguments against regulation. What is acceptable varies from one extreme to another within nations, religious cultures and even families. For e.g.: In Afghanistan a woman must be covered from head to toe, however this custom seems absurd to those in the Western world.

Thirdly there's the point of exactly who would police the Internet.

Having a government decide what is acceptable would be allowing the political elite and usually unrepresentative, to legislate their...