The issue of whether we should allow freedom of speech on the internet has been widely debated in our country recently. It is an important issue because it concerns fundamental moral and ethical questions about the way we interpret free speech. A variety of different arguments have been put forward about this issue, especially, the issues of decency and morality. In this essay, I will consider arguments for having the right to free speech on the internet and point to some of the problems with these views. I will then state why laws which prohibit people from using their first amendment rights online should not be passed.
Freedom of speech and expression can be defined simply as: The right to express any opinion in public without censorship or restraint by the government, and the corresponding right to experience anybody's expressions in public without censorship or restraint by government. I used the word "experience" here because experiencing free speech can include listening to a speech, watching a movie, reading a book or viewing a webpage, among many other things.
The internet deserves protection of free speech because it is the most widely used form of mass communication we have. As US Judge Stewart Dalzell wrote in overturning the Communications Decency Act, "The internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation. The government may not . . . interrupt that conversation. As the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the internet deserves the highest protection from governmental intrusion." CNET News.com.
Seeing as there are very little restrictions on the internet, most of which a ten year old could get around, it is understandable that people want to protect their children from content on the Internet that they might find objectionable. But this can be accomplished more successfully by having such people use filtering software on their computers to avoid such content.