One of the biggest problems with the explosion of information on the internet is how to protect intellectual property. To that end, Congress recently considered two bills of legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). Both bills sought to stop, or at least slow, the unauthorized use or reproduction of movies, TV shows, music and other copyrighted materials. While some argue that a completely open internet is harming the economy, many counter that a free and open internet is vital to the success of ideas and strengthening economies. Should the government regulate the internet?
I do think there should be some regulation of the internet to prevent predatory practices. However, the internet is an international phenomenon. No one country can really regulate it. People will always just use resources from countries that don't regulate.
I am not quite sure why this has become a discussion on pornography when the actual topic appears to focus much more on piracy. Ironically enough, pornographers would probably welcome laws like SOPA because pornography is often downloaded illegally.
I do think that there should be regulation of internet piracy. People do not have the right to use others' work free of charge. People who want to watch a movie or a TV show should pay to do so. So should people who want to have a particular song available to them on their computer. I am not sure that SOPA was well-crafted as a tool to stop piracy. However, if it is possible to stop internet piracy, the government should certainly regulate the internet in order to do so.
When one hears that China controls the internet in its country, fear rears its head. The First Amendment of the US Constitution does not have separate lines drawn for different circumstances, for the problem with censorship arises from who is conducting this censorship. As Larry Flint said at his trial for pornography, "If the First Amendment will protect a scum--like me, then it will protect you."
No line can be drawn in the proverbial sand on censorship; for, another line can be then drawn, and still another, and another, and eventually, there will be no free expression. The forefathers of America were of a breed unknown now; they foresaw many of the problems that would occur in the country; however, they wisely sought to define well the rights of the citizens of this country.
I believe they should in the area of pornography. Some may argue that it's freedom of expression, but we don't need this kind of expression that influences the minds of children and treats women and men as physical objects all in the name of profit. The TV networks had stipulations on them as pertains to sexual content and vulgar language in the past (not now) and we were the better for it.
You can have a strong Internet system and a free Internet system without the filth that's prevalent on the Web today. This amounts to abuse of freedom of speech and expression. The porn peddlers want desperately to play the censorship card - but that's exactly what they need forced on them - censorship and regulation.
As a general matter of course, no, the government should regulate the Internet. However, there may be matters of national security that might require the occasional intrusion of the government in Internet communications. We definitely want to have a very robust and free Internet system.