The Internet And The First Amendment Essay

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The Internet And The First Amendment Essay, Research Paper Modern America has been advancing since the technology boom, and one of the biggest changes that came from it was the invention of the computer. Along with this led the way for the Internet, the fastest growing object that the government can t control. Without this control over the Internet becomes a big problem, how far can we take the first amendment on the Internet? If the Internet is accessible by mostly all family s can and should they have the right to speak what ever they want to? This is a debate that brings to strong sides to the table. On one side you have the group of people whom believe that going along with the first amendment, freedom of speech is one of the most important parts and valid reasons to have

the Internet. It is a faster way to communicate with friends, relatives or even to send out messages to millions of people with one small click. On the other side of the argument you have the group of people who believe the government should filter and sensor what we see and that they should control what goes on the Internet and what the common man can access from the Internet. Some say that this battle should be fought at the local level and some even think of this as a supreme court case, but with both sides of the argument, who is to decide which is the right and just way to regulate the internet. Despite the court s decision, lawmakers and lawyers continue to disagree over the legality of regulating the Internet (Evans). This causes problems for the legal system because the

Internet is near to impossible to control. In one way or another most decisions for laws that could be made will in the long run upset some group or someway be found unconstitutional because of the difference in the democracy of our government. So to put barriers on what information can flow on the Internet is going to take a long time to draw out and decide what is appropriate and what is against the law. Supreme Court Cases Over the past years many battles have been fought on the Supreme Court level for the justification of the first amendment to the Internet. In the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution it states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech Congress had

passed a law called the Communications Decency Act, what this act was intended to do was protect children from explicit material on the Internet. In Section 223(a)(1) the act criminalized the transmission of obscene or indecent messages to children. In Section 223(d) the knowing , sending, or displaying of any message that describes offensive or sexual actions was prohibited. All though this seemed like a good idea the Supreme Court ruled this as a violation of the first amendment. The (act) effectively suppresses a large amount of speech that adults have a constitutional right to receive and to address to one another (Evans). Another break through case was ACLU vs. Reno, fought by many civil rights and activist groups. This battle was brought on because of the Communications

Decency Act, and the fact that it criminalizes expressions that are protected by the first amendment; it is also impermissibly overbroad and vague; and it is not the least restrictive means of accomplishing any compelling governmental purpose (www.aclu.org). The outcome of this case gave the right to free speech on the Internet for the next century. Because of the broadness of the term freedom of speech defined in the first amendment it is hard to tell when has gone to far. These types of cases caused a major reaction to what in effect would take away everyone s civil right to freedom of speech. Another issue that was brought up as a case was Anonymous speech on the Internet. This was the public leaving messages that some thought of as inappropriate comments but were still ruled