Internet Censorship

Essay by cyraxA+, February 1997

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For centuries governments have tried to regular materials deemed inappropriate or

offensive. The history of western censorship was said to have begun when Socrates was

accused "firstly, of denying the gods recognized by the State and introducing new

divinities, and secondly of corrupting the young." He was sentenced to death for these

crimes. Many modern governments are attempting to control access to the Internet. They

are passing regulations that restrict the freedom people once took for granted.

The Internet is a world wide network that should not be regulated or censored by

any on country. It is a complex and limitless network which allows boundless possibilities

and would be effected negatively by the regulations and censorship that some countries are

intent on establishing. Laws that are meant for other types of communication will not

necessarily apply in this medium. There are no physical locations where communications

take place, making it difficult to determine where violations of the law should be

prosecuted. There is anonymity on the Internet and so ages and identities are not known

this makes it hard to determine if illegal activities are taking place in regards to people

under the legal age. As well, it is difficult to completely delete speech once it has been

posted, Meaning that distributing materials that are obscene are banned becomes easy

The American Library Association (ALA) has a definition that states censorship is

"the change in the access status of material, made by a governing authority or its

representatives. Such changes include: exclusion, restriction, remove, or age/grade level

changes." This definition, however, has a flaw in that it only recognizes one form of

censorship-governmental censorship.

Cyberspace, a common name for the Net, has been defined by one author as being

"made up of millions of people who communicate with one another...