Censorship on the Internet

Holy Heart of Mary High School
St. John's, Newfoundland

By ShiNung C. (Grade 10)

There is much debate these days over the issue of censorship on the Internet. Last year, thousands of web page builders, and even major companies such as "Yahoo Canada", made their web pages black in a protest against the U.S. government's decision to censor the Net.

But why is there so much controversy, and do we really have a choice in the matter?

Of course we need censorship on the Internet. Many of the anti-censorship advocates say that censoring the Internet would take away basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Censoring the Internet would not do this. It would simply remove material that is illegal in the "real world."

For example, in the real world, there are laws which prohibit people from indecently exposing themselves in public. Would someone who puts a picture on the Internet of himself or herself indecently exposed be any less liable?

There are many municipal laws across Canada which require that adult magazines and other pornography be kept at specific heights on shelves to put them out of the reach of small children. Posting this material on the Internet, where it is available to children, is no less a crime.

Some may say this is not true, that this material is not easily accessible to children. Well, the sad fact is that it is true. All you have to do is search the Internet using any one of a number of pornography-related keywords to find this kind of information.

It does not end with pornography, either. There are many websites offering instructions on how to build simple, yet very dangerous, explosives. They even go so far as to sell the materials required to build these devices.

Studies have shown that the number of explosive-related injuries to youths is on the rise, and officials feel that the Internet is largely at fault.

Is it legal in our everyday world to sell explosives on the street? Absolutely not. Then why allow it on the Internet?

Perhaps the only question we should be asking ourselves about censorship and the Internet is this: "Would I want my child to have relatively easy access to this material?" For most people, the answer is a definite "no".

Just as we need laws limiting our actions in our everyday world, we also need limits in the virtual world. Censoring the Internet will merely put regulations in place, which are undoubtedly necessary.

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