The Communication Decency Act: The Fight For Freedom of Speech on the Internet
The Communication Decency Act is a bill which has insulted our right as American citizens. It a bill which SHOULD not pass. I'll share with you how Internet users are reacting to this bill, and why they say it is unconstitutional.
Some individuals disagree with one part of the bill. According to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ query/z?c104:s.652.enr:, which has the Communications Decency Act on-line for public viewing,: "Whoever uses an Internet service to send to a person or persons under 18 years of age......any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image,........or anything offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs.....shall be fined $250,000 if the person(s) is/are under 18....... imprisoned not more than two years.......or both."
The wording of that section seems sensible. However, if this one little paragraph is approved, many sites such as the: Venus de Milo site located at: http://www.paris.org/Musees/Louvre/Treasures/gifs/venusdemilo.gif; the Sistine Chapel at:
http://www.oir.ucf.edu/wm/paint/auth/michelangelo/michelangelo.creation and Michelangelo's David @ http://fileroom.aaup.uic.edu/FileRoom/images/image201.gif could not be accessed and used by anybody under the age of 18. These works of art and many other museum pictures would not be available. The bill says these sites show indecent pictures.
The next part of the CDA has everybody in a big legal fit. We, concerned Internet users, took the writers of this bill to court, and we won.
This part of the bill states: "Whoever....makes, creates, or solicits...........any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent.......with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person......by means of an Internet page..........shall be fined $250,000 under title 18......imprisoned not more than two years....or both......"
The writer of that paragraph of the bill forgot something. It violates the constitution. The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law....prohibiting or abridging the freedom of speech......the right of the people peaceably to assemble.....and to petition the Government.............."
This bill does exactly that. It says we cannot express our feelings cleanly. I understand that what may be of interest to me, may be offensive to others. Many people put up warning signs on their websites stating, "This site may contain offensive material. If you are easily offended you may not want to come here." If the writers of this bill would have listed that as a requirement there would have been no trouble.
Here is the way I look at it. I think that some things should be censored on the Internet. Child pornography, for instance, is already illegal, so it follows that it should also be illegal on the Internet. Besides, psychologically, it damages the children involved.
Something else that should be banned from the Internet are "hacker" programs meant to harm other Internet users. Some examples of such programs are AOHell which can give you access to America On-line for free and E-mail Bomb, or otherwise harass others using the service (American On-line just passed a bill that gave them the right to allow users to let them scan their mail for such harmful things.) Another thing that could be banned are text files which describe how to complete illegal actions, such as make bombs. The most famous is the "Anarchist Cook Book," which shows Internet users some of the above problems.
I also believe that the use of log-ins, passwords, and rating systems on pages for the Internet are a good idea, and are not violations of our civil rights. They simply allow the user to choose what they want to see. Some of these systems are already in use today, along with programs that watch for obscene and profane...
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