Improving Cyberspace


Improving Cyberspace
by
Jason Crandall
Honors English III
Research Paper
26 February 1996

Thesis: Though governments cannot physically regulate the
Internet, cyberspace needs regulations to prevent
illegal activity, the destruction of morals, and child
access to pornography.

I. Introduction.

II. Illegal activity online costs America millions and hurts
our economy.
A. It is impossible for our government to physically
regulate cyberspace.
1. One government cannot regulate the Internet by
itself.
2. The basic design of the Internet prohibits

censorship.
B. It is possible for America to censor the Internet.
1. All sites in America receive their address from
the government.
2. The government could destroy the address for
inappropriate material.
3. Existing federal laws regulate BBS\'s from
inappropriate material.

III. Censoring the Internet would establish moral standards.
A. Pornography online is more harsh than any other
media.
1. The material out there is highly perverse and
sickening.
2. Some is not only illegal, but focuses on
children.
B. Many industries face problems from illegal activity
online.
1. Floods of copyrighted material are illegally
published online.
2. Innocent fans face problems for being good fans.

IV. Online pornography is easily and illegally accessible
to minors.
A. In Michigan, anyone can access anything in
cyberspace for free.
1. Mich-Net offers most of Michigan access with a
local call.
2. The new Communications Decency Act could
terminate Mich-net.
B. BBS\'s offer callers access to adult material
illegally.
1. Most BBS operators don\'t require proof of age.
2. Calls to BBS\'s are undetectable to a child\'s
parents.

V. Conclusion.

"People don\'t inadvertently tune into alt.sex.pedophile while driving to a
Sunday picnic with Aunt Gwendolyn" (Huber). For some reason, many people
believe this philosophy and therefore think the Internet and other online areas
should not be subject to censorship. The truth is, however, that computerized
networks like the Internet are in desperate need of regulations. People can say,
do, or create anything they wish, and as America has proved in the past, this
type of situation just doesn\'t work. Though governments cannot physically
regulate the Internet, cyberspace needs regulations to prevent illegal activity,
the destruction of morals, and child access to pornography.

First, censoring the online community would ease the tension on the computer
software industry. Since the creation of the first computer networks, people
have been exchanging data back and forth, but eventually people stopped
transferring text, and started sending binaries, otherwise known as computer
programs. Users like the idea; why would someone buy two software packages when
they could buy one and trade for a copy of another with a friend? This
philosophy has cost the computer industry millions, and companies like Microsoft
have simply given up. Laws exist against exchanging computer software;
violators face up to a $200,000 fine and/or five years imprisonment, but these
laws are simply unenforced. Most businesses are violators as well. Software
companies require that every computer that uses one of their packages has a
separate license for that software purchased, yet companies rarely purchase
their required minimum. All these illegal copies cost computer companies
millions in profits, hurting the company, and eventually hurting the American
economy.

On the other hand, many people believe that the government cannot censor the
Internet. They argue that the Internet is an international network and that one
government should not have the power to censor another nation\'s
telecommunications. For example, American censors can block violence on
American television, but they cannot touch Japanese television. The Internet is
open to all nations, and one nation cannot appoint itself police of the Internet.
Others argue that the design of the Internet prohibits censorship. A different
site runs every page on the Internet, and usually the location of the site is
undetectable. If censors cannot find the site, they can\'t shut it down. Most
critics believe that America cannot possibly censor the Internet.

Indeed, the American government can censor the Internet. Currently, the National
Science Federation administers all internet addresses, such as web addresses.
The organization could employ censors, who would check every American site
monthly. Any site the censors find with illegal material could immediately lose
their address, thus shutting down the site. Some might complain about cost, but
if the government raised the annual price to hold an address from a modest $50
to say $500, they could easily afford to pay for the censors. This would not
present a problem, because mostly businesses own addresses; it would not effect
use by normal people. For example, microsoft.com is the address for Microsoft,
but addresses like crandall.com