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Who Is Free To Choose? The Internet started out as a tool for transmitting information to learn and study. Free expression on the Internet is one of the things that makes the Internet so great. People can get information on a subject from many different areas. This gives the chance for people to see an issue form other points of view. The Internet has developed into a vast medium of knowledge with many users contributing to its growth. With the growth of the Internet, many people have seen it as a source to express their ideas to the public. Some would even view the Internet as a virtual community, and say it is a democracy. People argue that with such freedom, the Internet should be censored to protect children form pornography, and others from sites that may concern objectionable material. There are people who live under the 1st Amendment and they use the Internet as an outlet to express their ideas and to incorporate ideas from others. Censorship of the Internet is wrong because it obstructs other people from accessing what they want to see and it inhabits people s free speech. Censorship on the Internet has been a growing concern for the past three years. The wide range of information available has made it a tempting target for those who want to control what a person can see and read. The Random House Webster s School and Office Dictionary defines censorship as, An official who examines books, films etc., to suppress anything objectionable . (CD ROM) The next question is who is going to decide for the millions of users on the Internet what is objectionable for them to see and read. The Internet has developed into a vast medium of knowledge with many users contributing to its growth. In this country, many activists for censorship on the Internet mainly have one thing on their minds. They want to protect children from pornography. Although I view this as big concern, there is a grater issue at hand. Since censorship involves all forms of expression, censoring the Internet would hurt many people. The Internet is an international community; we must view it as pertaining to other countries, not just the United States. Not all countries have the privilege of living in a democracy and under the Bill of Rights. As a result, the Internet has brought a new sense of freedom to most people who oppressed by tyrannical governments, or those that disagree with a government but are not allowed to express it. People in these countries can now be exposed to views that they have not thought about, or views that they have thought about but were afraid to express them. Since the Internet is a virtual community, it should be treated specially and should not be censored for the convenience of anti-pornography or other religious reasons. As a result of Internet censorship, other nation leaders could use it as a weapon against the people who oppose them or have opposing views. Many people would argue though, that the Internet is overflowing with pornography and children can be influenced by the things they see on their screens. This may be true, but censoring the Internet is the last route to solving the problem. If anything, the much-disputed cases on pornography influence children more than the Internet itself. We see television reports all the time involving child pornography and Internet pornography on the news. So, in affect, should not television reports on these stories also be censored from children who might see them? If a child really wants to, he or she can find a pornographic site, but the child must make a choice to what they are going to look at. There are not really any cases where a child accidentally goes to pornographic site. A child does not get linked to a pornographic site if he or she is trying to look up facts about dinosaurs for a research paper. The Internet is huge with billions of addresses. A person must search for what they want to see. Yes a child can type in sex at any search engine and be linked to hundreds of sites, but this issue should be left to the parent, not the government. Concerned parents should not look to the government to raise their child, but rather try to raise their own children in a way that they see as fit. There are many programs and security features on the Internet, such as Net Nanny that prevent children form seeing indecent materials. A parent can use these programs to limit what their child may look at on the Internet if they are not there to supervise. It is true that the Internet has some material that some people might find objectionable, but filtering programs that deny children and others to a wide range of useful information would weaken educational value of the Internet. The Internet is full of millions of facts, opinions, and other valuable resources. Teaching children what is right and wrong is not up to the Internet, computer software, or search engines. It is the responsibility of the parents. Parents have to begin playing a more active role in all aspects of their children s lives, including life on the Internet.The Internet should not be censored because it will inhabit free speech. This is one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment a

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