In the current century, we started tapping the celluloid, uranium, electromagnetism, and now the photon. To neutralize harmful germs, we even employ the services of the bacterium. Another great invention is mathematics, derived naturally from the Homo Sapiens' ability to conceive quantity. Spectacular tool making is not possible without the continuous development of mathematics. Our species has gone this far, equipped with only a few pounds of brain matter, a small and frail anatomy, and natural senses limited to a mere five (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing).
Given these leaps, it has been necessary to come up with a set of social codes to regulate behavior and ensure continuous order. The law, it is said, operates to regulate behavior and maintain the cohesiveness of a given society. In order to maintain its role as bulwark, it capitalizes on and gains credence from the idea that there is but one set of "correct" rules and that legal decisions are but logical outcomes of tested principles that are empirically-replicable.
Perhaps there are very few modern developments that have posed a challenge to this notion of the law and the legal system than the advent of the Internet. Precisely because of the uniqueness of the medium and the vastness of its breadth, there has been great difficulty imposing regulatory mechanisms on its use - thereby leading, in many cases, to its abuse. There can be no denying that information technology plays an important role in the molding of social values and in the legitimization of personal perceptions. In the United States, 98% have at least one television, 70% have more than one television, 70% have cable, and 51% of households with children have a computer. (Paik, 1994)
For example, on the issues surrounding Internet obscenity, Petrie (1997) found that "because the Internet is a unique communications technology, it does not fit squarely into the conceptual scheme of traditional obscenity law." (p. 638). In a nutshell, the Internet, also called the information superhighway, is a communications network wherein computers from all over the world may instantaneously communicate and exchange images with each other through the benefit of a modem and an Internet Service Provider. There is no one central source that can filter out images or regulate the flow of information. The internet cannot be shut down at will. On the issue of hate speech, The danger posed by the internet is that more often than not, it is the medium of choice of racial supremacist groups who thrive on the relative safety and untraceability that the Internet provides. Hier (2000) presents three reasons:
First, there exists a considerable gap between the public images that racial supremacist groups attempt to present in the Internet and a far less benign image that emerges upon closer analysis; second, exemplified by the Freedom-site, the internet has facilitated a greater degree of solidarity between racial supremacist organizations; and third, given the impersonal nature of the internet, there exists a certain degree of danger that otherwise ordinary citizens will become more susceptible to the ideology of racial supremacism. (p. 471)
The problem is not merely that the technology allows for unprecedented reach and scope. More significantly, the problem is that the law and all its traditional structures are ill-equipped to handle this revolutionary form of