When I started using modems, most people didn’t even know what they were. The Internet was still a government project; America On-Line, CompuServe, or any other current day commercial on-line service were but a few straggling bits not yet combined into a byte; and the maximum baud rate was a staggering 1200bps. However, there was a system called GEnie, run by General Electric, which was a worldwide on-line computer service, comparable to CompuServe. There weren’t as many users as there are today, only a few hundred across the United States, but still enough to talk with. GEnie had chat services, on-line games, an on-line shopping mall, on-line encyclopedia, electronic mail (email) capabilities, and several other options (which I didn’t become very familiar with since I hadn’t much need for them). On the whole, I used GEnie primarily for chat. It was here that I was first exposed to the on-line lingo that has become so much a part of my writing style; that is becoming so much a part of our culture.
After just a few hours spent on-line, it was easy to see that this electric wave of sky hovering just above the world of reality (eventually to be tagged with the 90’s buzz word “cyberspace”) was a whole new world within itself, complete with its own unique language and form of expression. At first, I felt like a tourist, always having to ask “What does that mean?” whenever a new word or term came up. It was like being on the outside of an inside joke. But, the other users were always helpful in explaining terms, system functions, commands, and such to new users (known as “newbies”).
Internet Censorship Means No Freedom of Speech
Picture it: you pick up your phone to read your email. You’re expecting a message from a friend, who is sending you some information on breast cancer, but when you check your inbox there is instead a message from the server. It says the message that was sent to you from the address of your friend has been intercepted because it contained indecent material that did not comply with FCC regulations of the Internet. You call your friend only to find that the police have come and taken her away, and she is now facing up to two years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines. The message sent by your friend contained the word “breast,” which by current FCC standards is indecent, and thus not permitted to be transferred on the Internet. Due to this, your friend is now subject to criminal charges.
Sound ridiculous? Unreasonable? Perhaps even a bit scary? It is all three of these things, but further, it is impending reality. This situation is very possible, in the very near future. On February 8, 1996, President Clinton signed the Exon Bill, part of the Communications Decency Act; a bill which makes the possibility of this situation a frightening reality. This bill will allow the government to censor the Internet, by any means it deems necessary. Under the CDA the “seven dirty words”, as well as anything the government considers sexually explicit or “indecent”, will be banned from the Internet. The CDA, however, will not be enforceable until all appeals made against it by organizations such as the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC), and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), are resolved.
The Internet is a worldwide medium for communication and the transfer of information. It is also, theoretica…
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…Internet. They also succeeded in doing this without government interference, or threatening our rights as Americans. Further, it does this in a way which keeps parents involved in their child’s activities, and preserves the parental right to decide what their child is exposed to. It also ensures that the growth of the Internet is not stunted in any way.
If people are educated on this issue, then they will be aware of what is occurring in this conflict, so they will be ready to stand up for their rights. Anyone who is informed on the subject will not want to risk losing their rights or freedom. Further, if there are solutions which will protect children on the Internet that at the same time protect our freedom of speech and the growth of the Internet and all its information, thus appeasing both sides, it is only logical and reasonable that we follow them.