Ethics: Freedom of Expression

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Table of Contents

1.0 Freedom of Expression: Introduction.......................................................................... pg. 1

2.0 Controlling Access to Information on the Internet.....................................................…pg. 2
2.1 Case: Communication Decency Act
2.2 Case: Child Online Protection Act
2.3 Case: Internet Filtering
2.4 Case: Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012
2.5 Ethical Dilemma and Group Conclusion

3.0 Anonymity on the Internet
3.1 Ethical Dilemma and Group Conclusion

4.0 Defamation and Hate Speech
4.1 Case: Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

5.0 Corporate Blogging
5.1 Ethical Dilemma and Group Conclusion

6.0 Pornography
6.1 Ethical Dilemma and Group Conclusion

7.0 Bibliography

1.0 Freedom of Expression : Introduction

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government  for a redress of grievances” reads the First Amendment. For a capitalist society of the likes of the Americas, the freedom of its citizens deserves no less importance than what the constitution gives to it -- it is, after all, the land of the free. But what makes freedom so important to this nation? Why put so much importance into this one trait? Merriam - Webster defines the word freedom as:

“the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”

In other words, a free man is a man who could do anything he so pleases to do -- anything. Therefore, if every person on earth was free, as defined, a person could steal whatever he or she pleases or murder in the name of rage or spite. Society could be plunged into simple, disorganized chaos due to the abuse of free will. To prevent this from happening, laws were agreed upon and enacted as a people’s consensus in order to prevent this sort of disaster from happening. That way, you had both a certain sense of freedom (at least, all the freedom that really mattered) and a sort of security net preventing a downwards spiral of a “free nation”.

Of course, the logic of “shoot water where there is fire” only applies to certain cases. Murder and theft is blatantly illegal no matter how you toss the coin -- but what about a thought? You can condemn a murderer for abusing his freedom by pointing at his victim, but what about a free thinker who advocates something not generally accepted or say offensive to some? Would it be correct to dispose of him simply because he is a minority or do you let him continue his advertisement of ideas? He does have freedom, after all.

This scenario has been a constant thorn in the side of freedom-advocates and lawmakers alike: how do you control a thought? --  more so nowadays with the advent of telecommunications and the internet: a global hotspot where ideas are shared every second. How do you prevent an idea from creating sideline casualties? Such a powerful threat has posed several problems to the online community, five of which will be discussed, reviewed, and deemed ethical/not ethical by the perceptions of the researchers aided by their learnings in the ISETHICS course.

2.0 Controlling Access to Information on the Internet

Somewhat akin to the forums of ancient Greece, topics of discussion and information on the internet vary greatly in terms of content and thesis. Articles can range from showing the effects of a certain chemical on a specimen to how to drive a car -- literally almost every form of thought a human can conceive has been uploaded to some form of server which is accessible to the entire world. This wonderful concept of a communal intelligence pool poses a problem. Along with the growth of the internet, the web user base has grown exceptionally and so has its age range, with children as early as 4 years old starting to browse web pages. This brings up the hypothetical...
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