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Freedom of Speech on the Internet - Research Paper Example

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The constant battle for the preservation of free speech has most recently been enjoined concerning the unabated flow of information on the internet. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ruled that radio and television was exempt from First Amendment protection therefore must comply with arbitrary content guidelines. Though clearly a legal matter, the FCC gave itself the power to censor the media without virtue of a court decision. Now that censorship has been accepted by the majority, the government is currently attempting to control the internet. The American public seems to be in favor of restricting online gambling as well as material of a sexual nature but this is a generation that has grown accustomed to censorship by their government and in many cases encourages this unconstitutional practice.
The internet itself is not regulated. As efficient and enormously informative as the web is, its content is not overseen as are other communications mediums such as television and radio. It is a groundbreaking new technology that has amalgamated societies of the country and the world and introduced the concept of truly free expression and the perception that nothing is taboo. Everything is exposed and available at everyone's literal finger-tip. The Internet has no physical, ethical or moral boundaries. Lawmakers and legal scholars generally use legal precedents from broadcast media decisions as the model for definitions of indecency and obscenity when developing regulations governing the Internet.
Governmental censorship rational
The Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 made it a federal crime to display 'indecent material' on any computer network unless the website owner utilizes 'effective' techniques to control access of that material to minors. This law appears to be a reasonable compromise that protects free speech and prevents children from accessing objectionable material, but in practice and effect, outlaws free speech from the Internet. The Internet allows everyone the freedom to connect with other people and suppliers worldwide but an economical means for individuals to restrict their art or thoughts to the eyes of children is yet to be developed. Because of this lack of security technology, across the board prohibition is justified under the law, a concept that is in itself considered unlawful by a strict definition of the First Amendment of the Constitution which unambiguously guarantees the right to free speech (Pilon, 1994). Supreme Court decisions have consistently found that the First Amendment does not apply to obscene communications and have allowed communities to establish their own restrictions regarding what is obscene. The court in Miller v. California explained that if the 'average' person would describe the work as obscene or if it showed or expressed patently offensive sexual conduct without 'serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,' the material is correctly defined as obscene (Mason, 2000).
Censoring the Internet is impractical
The community of the World Wide Web has combined to establish what is and what is not acceptable. Neither a single government alone nor the coalition of all can hope to effectively restrict ...Show more
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Summary

The First Amendment to the Constitution is the most recognized and recited of the Bill of Rights within both political and social realms because it is the most essential in preserving the uniquely American freedom the Founding Fathers envisioned. The First Amendment effectively guarantees free speech, freedom of the press and religion…
Freedom of Speech on the Internet
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