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Internet Censorship

             The number of people who use the Internet has dramatically increased within the last decade. With access to the Internet becoming so widespread, the Internet is consequentially going to contain all types of information. As a result, there is a great deal of information on the Internet that some people may view as "indecent." Congress has attempted to censor this information in the past, most notably with the Communications Decency Act, a controversial piece of legislation signed into law by President Clinton on February 8, 1996 (Esposito). There were many advocates to passing this law that claimed that there is much information on the Internet that is immoral and indecent, and that this information should be censored to a degree. There was also, however, a differing opinion, that the Internet should not be censored because it is not Congress" job to decide what is decent or immoral for everyone; they felt this was an individual decision. Eventually, this law was overturned by the United States Supreme Court; they felt this law violated the First Amendment. Actions taken by the government to censor the Internet directly violate the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, because such actions limit the personal freedoms of its citizens. .
             Many public libraries are now installing Internet blocking software, which scans the contents of Internet sites which a user seeks to view and blocks access based on the occurrence of certain words or phrases on those sites (Wallace). The problem with this method is that many sites with legitimate, decent, and relevant information are blocked by these programs. For example, the National Organization for Women website is blocked by Cybersitter, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation archive is blocked by CyberPatrol (Wallace). CyberPatrol and Cybersitter are examples of Internet blocking software. Additionally, only a very small portion of the Internet contains offensive material; most people do not use the Internet for pornography.

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