|In the United States, attempts to censor the Internet have been unsuccessful thus far. It all began with the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The act was to prevent material labeled as 'indecent' from entering the homes of Americans. This act brought so many questions including "who sets the standard for what is 'indecent?'", "What about material posted outside of the United States?", "How could those people be fined?"|
|Also, what about Web sites posted by medical companies that show nude bodies for medical reasons or artists. Currently filtering devices usually screen by how much of an image is flesh-colored; if there is a large amount, then the picture will not be shown. This means that an image on a page showing the proper way for a breast exam could be prevented from reaching a requester. Making medical groups fearful of being fined for posting material on the Internet "could destroy the very strengths that have made the Internet such a great tool." (Gorman, web)|
|Caught in the crossfire are Internet providers who could be fined up to $250,000 or put into jail for up to two years.|
Fortunately, the CDA was stuck down by the U.S. Supreme Court who called it unconstitutional in 1997 in Reno v. ACLU.
In the court's final opinion it was stated:
We presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.(Steinhardt, web)
Yet, even after the Supreme Court has stuck by this ruling, Sen. John McCain has produced another bill to stop objectionable material from being viewed by children via the Internet.
|His proposed bill, "The Internet School Filtering Act" suggests that any federally-funded school or library must have a filtering device that prevents things like pornagraphy from being seen by children. But many experts on the Internet say these devices are far from being complete. |
"Such filtering software does not actually perform as advertised, and in fact not only is physically incapable of blocking material that fits a particular legal definition such as "obscene", but also has been demonstrated to block numerous sites with no 'obscene' or 'indecent' material on it, thus making the site perfectly suitable for children." (EFF, web)