The internet offers various opportunities and has become a common area for any person no matter where he or she comes from to say or access any information one requires. However, the vast computer network contains some sensitive information seen as unsuitable for a certain group of people, as well as generally negative information regarding other groups or persons. The paper will aim to argue that freedom of speech should be respected as embedded in the Constitution, and in case of regulations, especially for minors, parental regulation is the best-suited one to fill in the gap than restriction from the civil liberties.
The internet as a masterpiece of the world of technologies has been a subject of great debate. This is due to some people's feeling the internet ought to be regulated or censored by the government. The main reason cited is to protect the young persons and especially American minors. Nevertheless, regulation of the internet seems to violate the Constitution - the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and regulation.
According to the United Nations (UN), access to the internet is a human right. A report mid last year, 2011, presented to the Human Rights Council indicated that governments around the world were threatening the same rights. The report was about countries and regimes like China, North Korea that were filtering web contents for various reasons. In other words, the government through the practice of censoring will try to stop an inadvertent action or impact of particular speech or information on the internet. If the government controls what the population reads or views, it means the executive is opposing individualism in our society. In the US, citizens have the right to be free from government control of their ideas, freedom of expression or from inhibition of their thoughts from the state managing system. Every person in the US has the right to view or read a book or magazine he wants. But how does this differ from the information people can find online? The reason is the internet is a different form than media, but that should not make it the subject of censorship laws.
The principle of freedom of speech is clearly embedded in the US constitution. This means that freedom of speech is a right of every American citizen. However, it is important to realize the freedom is not absolute like we intend to think since some forms of speech are outlawed by the same Constitution. They include fraudulent advertising, using children for pornography reasons, use of fighting words, obscenity or words that may be used in race discrimination, speech that infringes on a copyrights or unauthorized disclosure of data. Consequently, the government may be compelled to regulate or censor speech for various reasons such as public concern, threatens national security, or if it has a compelling interest.
On the other hand, the government through Congress has been trying to limit some internet contents. This was done through the Communications Decency Act and the Child Online Protection Act (CDA and COPA). These acts are aimed mainly at addressing the issue of minors accessing harmful contents on the internet. The US Congress realizes that web publishers can assure that minors do not access harmful materials on their website.
This howsoever has the implication the government believes what is right or best for its society. Still this can never be true. Censorship is a way of terminating or suppressing people's ideas, opinions, and individualism, and thus decreases freedom. This implies that censorship by the government will not be for the good of our society but a way of depriving it of its liberty.
The internet is a technological masterpiece that has been a subject of great discussion. While some people want internet content to be censored, other feel that is interfering with freedom of speech and expression as entrusted in the First Amendment. I feel, the internet contents should not be regulated or censored for that matter. In my opinion, the parental regulation is best suited to fill in the gap when minors are involved. Through the use of special programs created to filter immoral materials, parents can let their children take pleasure in the internet without the fear accessing inappropriate information.