The Communications Decency Act

The U.S. Government should not attempt to place restrictions on the internet.
The Internet does not belong to the United States and it is not our
responsibility to save the world, so why are we attempting to regulate something
that belongs to the world? The Telecommunications Reform Act has done exactly
that, put regulations on the Internet.

Edward Cavazos quotes William Gibson says, "As described in Neuromancer,
Cyberspace was a consensual hallucination that felt and looked like a physical
space but actually was a computer-generated construct representing abstract
data." (1) When Gibson coined that phrase he had no idea that it would become
the household word that it is today. "Cyberspace now represents a vast array of
computer systems accessible from remote physical locations." (Cavazos 2)

The Internet has grown explosively over the last few years. "The Internet\'s
growth since its beginnings in 1981. At that time, the number of host systems
was 213 machines. At the time of this writing, twelve years later, the number
has jumped to 1,313,000 systems connecting directly to the Internet." (Cavazos
10)

"Privacy plays a unique role in American law." (Cavazos 13) Privacy is not
explicitly provided for in the Constitution, yet most of the Internet users
remain anonymous. Cavazos says, "Computers and digital communication
technologies present a serious challenge to legislators and judges who try to
meet the demands of economic and social change while protecting this most basic
and fundamental personal freedom." Networks and the Internet make it easy for
anyone with the proper equipment to look at information based around the world
instantly and remain anonymous. "The right to conduct at least some forms of
speech activity anonymously has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court." (Cavazos
15) In cyberspace it is extremely uncommon for someone to use their given name
to conduct themselves, but rather they use pseudonyms or "Handles". (Cavazos 14)
Not only is it not illegal to use handles on most systems, but the sysop (System
Operator) does not have to allow anyone access to his data files on who is the
person behind the handle. Some sysops make the information public, or give the
option to the user, or don\'t collect the information at all.

The Internet brings forth many new concerns regarding crime and computers. With
movies like Wargames, and more recently Hackers, becoming popular, computer
crime is being blown out of proportion. "The word Hacker conjures up a vivid
image in the popular media." (Cavazos 105) There are many types of computer
crime that fall under the umbrella of "Hacking". Cavazos says, "In 1986
Congress passed a comprehensive federal law outlawing many of the activities
commonly referred to as \'hacking.\'" (107) Breaking into a computer system
without the proper access being given, traditional hacking, is illegal; hacking
to obtain financial information is illegal; hacking into any department or
agency of the United States is illegal; and passing passwords out with the
intent for others to use them to hack into a system without authorization is
also illegal.

"One of the more troubling crimes committed in cyberspace is the illicit
trafficking in credit card numbers and other account information." (Cavazos 109)
Many people on the Internet use their credit cards to purchase things on-line,
this is a dangerous practice because anyone with your card number can do the
samething with your card. Millions of dollars worth of goods and services a
year are stolen using credit card fraud. No matter how illegal, many are not
caught. With the use of anonymous names and restricted access to provider\'s
data on users, it becomes harder to catch the criminals on-line.

The "[Wire Fraud Act] makes it illegal for anyone to use any wire, radio, or
television communication in interstate or foreigncommerce to further a scheme to
defraud people of money or goods." (Cavazos 110) This is interpreted to include
telephone communications, therefore computer communication as well. There is
much fraud on the Internet today, and the fraud will continue until a feasable
way to enforce the Wire Fraud Act comes about.

Cavazos continues, "unauthorized duplication, distribution, and use of someone
else\'s intellectual property is subject to civil and criminal penalties under
the U.S. Copyright Act." (111) This "intellectual property" is defined to
include computer software. (Cavazos 111) Software piracy is very widespread and
rampant, and was even before the Internet became popular.

The spread of Computer Viruses has been advanced by the popularity of the
Internet. "A virus program is the result of someone developing a mischievous
program that replicates itself, much like the living organism for which it is
named." (Cavazos 114) Cyberspace allows for the rapid transfer and