Overview Most people are against
censorship. Freedom of speech is, after all, one of the cornerstones of
democracy. Freedom of speech, however, sometimes clashes with cultural
traditions, religious beliefs, and security demands. Within homogeneous
cultures during peaceful times, freedom-of-speech issues may be easily
resolved, but in culture-spanning cyberspace and during times of
international tension, cultural sensitivity and national security add a
complex dimension to the censorship debate.
General Information Web censorship
can be implemented as Internet filters, firewalls, Internet blocking, DNS
poisoning, and Internet zoning. It is currently used by some
organizations and governments to control the content viewed by individuals
accessing Web pages over the Internet. The largest complaint about
Internet censorship is that it ignores free-speech rights and violates the
civil liberties of Internet users. For example, civil rights groups
believed that provisions of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) designed
to keep pornography out of the hands of minors violated free speech
guarantees provided by the First Amendment. A Supreme Court decision in
the case American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vs. Reno struck down the
online censorship provisions of the Communications
Decency Act (CDA). Read this precedent setting lawsuit at this
link. You can view a list of ways in which the CDA was thought to violate
First Amendment rights at The
Internet Censorship FAQ at the Ethical Spectacle Website.
Web censorship is sometimes used to control
the content viewed by Internet users. The "Great Firewall of
China" is an example of rigorous government censorship. Read about
the complex issue of how
controls the information that is available to its citizens in the PCWorld
Finds Freedom Behind Great Firewall" by Sumner Lemon.
Specific information about methods for controlling and editing information
available to Internet users in
is outlined at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/china.
practices aggressive censorship, some critics have exaggerated its
tactics. Read a list of "Internet censorship in
myths" that continue to appear in the media at http://ice.citizenlab.org/?p=127.
established the King
for Science and Technology (KACST) as a governing body for the Internet.
This organization is responsible for designing the framework for an
Internet that functions according to Islamic rules. Read about how the
Saudi government protects its people against "immoral foreign
influences" at the Privacy International article entitled "Silenced
- Saudi Arabia". For more specific information about Internet
Filtering in Saudi Arabia in 2004" by the OpenNet Initiative.
is thought to have one of the most intensive and restrictive Internet
censorship policies in the Western world. Read about Australian censorship
policies at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Australia.
It is the opinion of many people and
organizations that Web censorship does not and cannot work. Read what
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has to say about Web censorship in this
NetworkWorld article. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an
anti-censorship organization that fights for freedom of speech in the
digital world. Its Blue Ribbon
campaign supports and promotes the right of free speech. The
government is becoming more active in the fight against Web censorship
internationally as can be noted in the Security Focus article "U.S.
Sponsors Anti-Censorship Web Service." Many large
technology companies that provide services in the
and abroad are being criticized for policies that support censorship. Read
more about this issue at management.silicon.com.
Additional Links Many misleading
myths and hoaxes have circulated about attempts to control the Internet.
One such hoax is the "Bill 602P" hoax. Read about this hoax and
its claim that the U.S. Postal Service is going to impose a 5¢ surcharge
on every e-mail message sent via the Internet at www.snopes.com/business/taxes/bill602p.asp.
The "Bill 602P" hoax became so wide spread that the U.S. Postal
Service posted this
notice on their Website. Another humorous Internet hoax is the Internet
Clean UP Day myth. Read about it at www.truthorfiction.com.
Many people became nervous about a myth that the FCC was going to start
charging Internet access fees. Read the specific e-mail message that
circulated as well as the statement by the FCC regarding it at http://urbanlegends.about.com.