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Congress Censoring the Internet, Creative Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 980

Creative Essay

Introduction

The Congress are proposing to pass a bill that would provide censorship over the internet.  Thus essentially pass legislation that would prevent Americans from visiting certain websites. In particular websites that Congress believe infringe copyright and trade mark laws.  One of the Chief sponsors of the bill being the Texas Republican – Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas).  The bill also proposes the ability for Congress to have authority over search engines like Google and get them to remove specified rogue sites from the internet. The main thrust of the proposals, however is aimed at control of the DNS ( Domain Name System) of the internet. This being the essential phone book of the internet. Gaining control of this would make it more difficult for hackers to create fake DNS entries.

This paper takes the opposing view to the proposals of Congress.  It is not considered to be a viable or practical concept that would benefit the American Citizens or society as a whole

Argument against the proposal

It is arrogant for Congress to consider that it has control over the internet ( World Wide Web). It may only influence what takes place within its’ own legal jurisdiction in the USA.  It does not have the authority to mandate or dictate to other countries as to how they use or access the World Wide Web.  As such these restrictions only create punitive measures on their own citizens and restrict their individual freedoms and liberties.  It also questions whether such a move would be unconstitutional as it may seek to impose rulings on freedom of speech and as such would set a dangerous precedent for other countries where human rights issues remain an issue.

If for one minute it is accepted that Congress is motivated towards achieving a positive act on the internet in the USA, it does not follow that other countries following this lead would be similarly motivated. As such Congress would be setting a precedent for other countries to seize internet sites and domain names that they believe are politically incorrect.  Considering current events in the Middle East this would enable dictators and tyrannical regimes to try and block freedom of speech and human rights violations that they are committing.  Governments and political leaders are elected by and accountable to the people. Restricting freedom of speech and access to information is both anti-democratic and runs counter to democratic beliefs.

The proposal that the Attorney General  has the power and authority to shut down websites where copyright infringement occurs.  One can see the legality of this but equally the offending party might just move to another country and set up shop there.  It is unlikely that other countries will have an international reciprocal agreement with the US.  As such this process is impractical unless the US can block Americans from viewing domains in other countries.  This would seriously disadvantage academics, researchers and others who need to exploit the full international resource of the internet.

There is also the question of political intervention and Congress being seen to be doing this in order to advance their own political interests.  Tim Berners Lee ( the original creator of the internet) indicated that no Government should be allowed to censor or turn off connection to the internet as a means of achieving political ambitions.  This would be to establish a dangerous precedent.  Many third world countries rely on the information to support medical and pharmalogical requirements and might be seriously compromised if they were to be disconnected from certain websites.

China has tried to conduct similar exercise in that country in terms of blocking search engines, limiting access, blocking DNS and censoring content on the net.  The regime stating that it did not western idealism corrupting the young people in China.  This type of dictatorial ‘big brother’ attitude achieves the opposite effect. People question why the authorities wish to restrict their freedoms and right to access information.  Working democracies should not fear this but it is easy to see why countries like North Korea, China and Syria hate their people having freedom of access to information.  The people question corrupt regimes, tyrannical dictators and those who seek to suppress civil liberties and freedom.  The situation in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Bahrain are all examples of where modern communications and access to information has empowered the people.

Some of considered the bill to be a pipe dream that exists in the minds of some Republicans trying to create some form of utopian society that they have dominion over.  The policy is however seriously flawed and full of legal loopholes that could be torn to shreds in its existing format.  The wording is poorly written and ill conceived.  Such an act would not survive legal scrutiny and would never be used to address the problem that it is aimed at i.e. infringement of copyright law.  As such this is largely a symbolic gesture of Congress that is considered both ugly and insidious.  Law professors have stated that in any event it is considered unlikely if Corporate enterprises will accept internet censorship as acceptable. Such a view was put forward by Secretary Clinton when addressing the China situation.

Conclusion

To censor the internet is really absurd and unconstitutional.  Information and expression of information should be allowed to flow freely. Individuals should exercise their own judgements in terms of control over information  but not be directed by state control.  The Supreme Court have made some interesting observations on the internet.  Justice Sandra Day O’Connor described at as a public arena.  Justice Stephen Beyer asserted that it behaves in a similar manner to that of telephone.  These observations are interesting but are not necessarily the right way of viewing the internet.  It serves a much deeper, meaningful and service to society that enables us to view humanity in a global or holistic context and forms a vital means of communication between the peoples of different natures and cultures.

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