Level 16 - Colossus
Thesis: The vast cyber-frontier is being threatend with censorship from the government. Internet censorship should be
left up to the individual not the governments discretion.
I. Censoring the Internet.
A. Clinton passes the C.D.A.
B. Our rights as Americans.
C. Exonís victory.
D. Whatís really online.
E. Strike to free expresson on Compuserve.
II. Where the Internet stands now.
A. Judges Panel.
B. Congress and otherís opinions.
C. Background information.
D. Other opinions.
A. Familyís responsibility.
B. Censorship Software.
C. Civil Rights.
After threatening the Communications Decency Act with a vetos of the past versions, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into
law on February 8, 1996.1 Before hand, congress approved the largest change of the nationís communications laws in 62
years. One of the largest controversial topics included in the bill is the censorship of pornography, which now is a strenuously
enforced crime of distributing knowingly to children under 18. The congress overwhelmingly passed the bill with a landslide
414-16 House vote and a 91-5 Senate vote.2 It seems now that the wide bill might not be what it cracked up to be, as it
stands now, anyone who might upload James Joyceís Ulysses could be placed in jail for two years and have up to a $250,000
fine.3 Representatives of on-line services industries were concerned about the bill, and feared they could be held criminally
responsible for Internet conversations.4
"We face a unique disturbing and urgent circumstance, because it is children who are the computer experts in our nations
families," remarked a concerned Rep. Senator of India Dan Coats.5 Although in reality, censorship would do little to stop the
pornography problems. The bill is a nation legislation trying to control a international network, which is virtually impossible.
According to the First Amendment, Americans were granted to write anything they please, whether itís indecent or not, several
series of judicial decisions also helped the freedom down the road.6
Nebraskan Democrat James Exon, put together an informational binder known as the Blue Book to show the Senate about the
goings on within the Internet.7 Along the pages of the Blue Book were pictures of people bound and being burned by
cigarettes, people pierced with swords and people involved in sexual activities with animals.8 The Senate, acknowledging their
ignorance of the Internet, passed Exonís proposal after seeing the pictures in the Blue Book.9 Along with distribution of
pornography, a person carries the chance of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine which is a good reason to restrict much of
The Internet is extremely massive, filled with usenet newsgroups, web pages, IRC channels, ftp sites, gopher sites and much
more. The Internet is the last and largest frontier of uncensored speech, anything from friendly chat to child porn to bestiality
goes on. Pictures of anything that can be imagined are most likely available to the searcher. Some estimate that over 30 million
people are on the Internet. On IRC(Internet-Relay-Chat) a live time conversation can be held along with trading files from
illegal computer game trading called warez to illegal picture trading goes on. ĎCybersexí is also a occupance that happens more
in live chat areas then others. MUDs or Multi-User-Dungeons, live chat like IRC was first started for Role Playing uses like
online Dungeons and Dragons, now among the MUD servers there are sexual MUDs for people interested in S&M along with
other fetishes. Usenet newsgroups account for 11.5% of total Internet traffic and is a major distribution of smut pictures.11 The
WWW also known as the World Wide Web is todayís largest portion of the Internet as well as the fastest growing with well
over 12 million pages accessible. Despite its gargantuan proportions, it still remains fairly clean from hardcore smut comparative
to its size. BBSs seem to be the major uproar of censorship, although BBSs are NOT part of the Internet, many of their
pictures found in them later become available to users via someone uploading them.12 Electronic Bulletin-Board
Systems(BBSs) require a user to dial that computer directly thought the phone lines resulting in long distance charges and often
monthly access fees.
In late December of 1995, a prosecutor in Munich struck a devastating blow to Compuserve and the larger picture of freedom
of expression.13 This prosecutor was able to prevent the flow of information for 4 million people in 140 countries.14 By merely
informing Compuserve that it was breaking Baravian law by giving German residents access to sexual newsgroups,
Compuserve removed any newsgroup that had titles with "sex", "gay", or "erotic" which in turn denied access to not only
Germany users but all its users.15
On June 12, 1996, three federal judges in Philadelphia, PA, ruled that the 1996 Communications Decency Act violated the
First Amendment to the Constitution. The panel comprised of three dedicated judges Stewart Dalzell, Dolores K. Sloviter, and
Ronald L. Backwalter. They voiced their opinion about the censorship and say that the bill is unconstitutional. The panel
believes that the Internet must be protected since it is an important form of expression and free speech. The judges enacted a
restraining order preventing enforcement of the unconstitutional act.
"Itís virtually impossible [to regulate the Net] because of the global nature of this communications device. It would mean
monitoring every phone call [into the Internet], which is impossible to do," stated David Ellington, the C.E.O. of NetNoir.16
"My boss supports First Amendment Freedoms, but is also supportive of protection of decency," the legislative assistant to
Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY), Khalil Munir responds.17 "As the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the
Internet deserves the highest protection from governmental intrusion," judge Stewart Dalzell offered.18 Dalzell believes that the
Internet is a good place which allows its users the largest environment for free expression and speech.19 Dalzell assure that the
Decency Act is not required to protect children from pornography.20
The July 3 report, "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn,"[Time] was based on a Carnegie Mellon University study. Led by
student Martin Rimm, researchers said they found more then 900,000 sexually explicit images and text files online, but
neglected to point out that most came from privately owned adult bulletin boards with no connection to the Internet.[School
Library Journal, October, 1995, EBSCO-CD]
After hitting the newsstands, the magazine quickly found its way to the floor of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
asked to have the entire article entered into the Congressional Record in support of his bill S.892, the Protection of Children
from Computer Pornography Act of 1995. "There is a flood of vile pornography," Grassley told fellow senators, "and we must
act to stem this growing tide, because . . . it incites perverted minds."[School Library Journal, October, 1995, EBSCO-CD]
In a seven week period the Smithsonian Institutionís web site gathered a total of 1.9 million visits, and in a seven day time
during June, Playboy took in 4.7 million visits.21 Most of the pictures available on the Internet were at some point in time
scanned from a magazine or other places which photos as such are found. Many private BBSs do business in taking free
photos to scan for people then keep a copy of the picture for their site. Pornographic images only represent about 3% of all
messages on the Usenet newsgroups although Carnegie Mellon found that 83.5% of Usenet newsgroup pictures were
The Usenet itself is extremely small compared to other portions of the Internet and only consists of 11.5% of overall traffic. The
Carnegie Mellon team surveyed 917,410 sexually explicit pictures while doing their research on the Internet.23 98.9% of the
online porn seekers are men according to private BBS operators, the same operators which require fees to gain entrance.24
Researches say that even though the 83.5% of images in usenets were pornographic that still only represents less the one-half of
one percent of all traffic on the Internet.25 Only nine out of 11,000 Web pages contained anything obscene yet Time still said,
"Thereís an awful lot of porn online."26
"[Cyberspace] is a safe space in which to explore the forbidden and taboo. It offers the possibility for genuine, unembarrassed
conversations about accurate as well as fantasy images of sex," said Carlin Meyer, a professor at New York Law School.27
"It is clearly a violation of free speech and itís a violation of the rights of adults to communicate with each other," House
speaker Newt Gingrich shared.28
In a Time/CNN poll conducted by Yakelovich Partners, 1000 people were involved and 42% were for FCC-like control over
sexual content on the computer networks, but 48% were against it. Towns supports the effort which Reps. Christopher Cox
(R-Calif) and Ron Wyden(D-Ore) are working for. Cox and Wyden encourage development of smart programs such as
SurfWatch, which restricts access to files at home. The Cox-Wyden proposal would make individuals responsible for
censorship, this would prohibit the governments interaction. Based on a poll takes in Black Enterprises 32% of those in the poll
think the a new Internet governing body should control online services while another 32% say the users should followed by
16% saying a private enterprise should, and 15% saying none should, then lastly 6% believe the government is the right system
for the job.29 The MIT media Labís Webhound project allows World Wide Web users to assign a number which rates each
Web page seen. Webhound can then point someone toward Web pages of their own interests. The Home Net project which
started February and goes until June 1997, gave computers to 50
Pittsburgh families and monitors their use. Out of 157 people surveyed, less then 20% viewed anything sexually oriented more
the twice.30 "Places that provide erotica on the Internet are wild about the idea of voluntary ratings, they donít want to sell to
kids," Nathaniel Borenstein the designer of Kid Code stated.31 The government itself is the largest buyer of pornograp! hic
magazines in the form of sales to military bases and also requires sex education on children in public schools.
A new development being worked on now is Kid Code. This would allow a rating system for each web-page, the user then
would be allowed to set the ratings of the pages allowed to their children.32 Other protective programs are also available such
as The Internet Filter, which sends e-mail to the parents if a child enters a sex site.33 Cyber Patrol is time sensitive and allows
restraint on certain times of use and total time online can be set by parents not wanting their kids be on the Internet all day
instead of doing their homework, or not allowing them to be on after 9pm.34 SurfWatch comes with a list of sites containing
sexual material that may not be changed. With CyberSitter, parents can add to the menu to unwanted sites but not remove
any.35 SurfWatch denies access to sites such as Hustler automatically, it also restrains newsgroups with words like "porno",
"xxx", or "sex" in their topic.36 Microsystems Softwareís CyberPatrol program filters 12 content subjects such as sex,
violence, and hate speech, then parents can add sites to a "CyberNet" list.37
Indecent material is protected by the First Amendment, much of the materials printed in America including articles from
Cosmopolitan magazine or James Joyceís Ulysses could be called indecent. Many civil-rights groups were involved in calling
the bill unconstitutional and prevents the citizenís rights to free speech and privacy. If the U.S. succeeds in censoring the
Internet, they will be in a position to mediate much more then just porn. Anything they wished could be controlled such as
private conversations to each other.
Porn, sex, smut isnít only found on the Internet, it can be found in books, magazines, films, television, music video, newspapers
and many other places. People can walk into a corner video store and walk out with a pornographic video at only $4 a night. A
team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, conducted an extremely detailed study of online porn.38 Some
of their findings resulted in their conclusion in which the trading of sexually explicit pictures is one of the largest recreational past
times of Internet users.39 At one unnamed university, 13 of 40 most frequently visited newsgroups had names like
"alt.sex.stories", "rec.arts.erotica," and "alt.sex.bondage."40 71% of sexual images on the Internet originally can from the
thousands of privately owned BBSís whose operators sell their contents at a mere $10 to $30 a month(long distance call not
included), the largest of these take major credit cards and make up to an excess of $1 million a year.41 The team found
consumers in more then 2,000 cities in all 50 states and 40 countries, also in China, where possession of pornography can be a
The censorship of the Internet should be the responsibility of the childís parents and not the governments responsibility. There
are many options for a parent to use when restraining their child such as informing themselves better about whatís in the Internet
and taking precautions before hand. The average adult with children on the Internet might very well likely not know as much as
Perhaps a reason people want the government to censor it is because they donít want to take the time it takes to learn about
the Internet and find a private censor program. A parentís laziness is no reason to restrict others who enjoy spending their time
collecting Ďindecentí pictures or reading medical documents about sex. The government admitted to being Internet Ďdumbí and
not knowing of the goings on held within a personís computer screen, when one person could be skimming for subjects like
fantasy role-playing games, another person might be secretly trading child porn. With over 30 million users on the Internet, no
one can guarantee that no pornography will stray down from someone.
1. "Background Information," Editorial On File, June 16-30, 1995, p.728
2. "Background Information," Editorial On File, February 1-15, 1996, p.148
3. John Barlow, "Thinking locally, acting globally," Time, January 15, 1996, EBSCO-CD
4. E.O.F., June 16-30, 1995.
5. Philip Elmer-Dwitt, "On a screen near you: Cyberporn," Time, July 3, 1995, EBSCO-CD
6. Julian Dibbell, "Muzzling the Internet," Time, December 18, 1995, EBSCO-CD
7. Steven Levy, "No place for kids?" Newsweek, July 3, 1995, EBSCO-CD
10. E.O.F., June 16-30, 1995
16. Fonda Lloyd, "Is it wise to censor the net?" Black Enterprise, December, 1995, EBSCO-CD
18. E.O.F., June 1-15, 1996
25. Renee Olson, "Critics say Time exaggerated cyberporn threat," School Library Journal October, 1995,
36. Robin M. Bennefield, "When kids prowl the net, parents need to be on guard," U.S. News&Report, April 29, 1996,
"Background Information." Editorial On File, Vol 27, Number 3, February 1-15, 1996, p 148.
"Background Information." Editorial On File, Vol 26, Number 12, June 16-30, 1995, p. 728.
Elmer-Dwitt, Philip. "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn." Time July 3, 1995, EBSCO-CD.
Lloyd, Fonda. "Is it Wise to Censor the Net?" Black Enterprise, December, 1995, EBSCO-CD.
Dibbell, Julian. "Muzzling the Internet." Time December 18, 1995, EBSCO-CD.
Levy, Steven, and others. "No Place for Kids?" Newsweek, July 3, 1995, EBSCO-CD.
"Background Information." Editorial On File, Vol. 27, Number 11, June 1-15, 1996, p. 700.
Barlow, John, "Thinking Locally, Acting Glabally." Time, January 15, 1996, EBSCO-CD.
Sirico, Robert A. "Donít censor the Internet." Forbes, July 29, 1996, EBSCO-CD.
Olson, Renee, and others. "Critics say Time Exaggerated Cyberporn Threat." School Library Journal, October, 1995,
Spertus, Ellen. "Filtering the Net." Technology Review, October, 1995, EBSCO-CD.