Should hate speech, bomb making instructions, or government documents be censored on the Internet?   

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there would be a great many opinions on such a strong point of reference in the proliferation of information technology.  I think that there is a danger in censoring anything with a forum like the Internet. Questions such as who is doing the regulation and how will this regulation be accomplished is of vital importance.  These issues would prevent my from embracing any type of governmental censorship.  At the same time, I do believe that the First Amendment does contain language that argues that speech without consequences is reckless.  If the language posted on the Internet encourages or incites action, or is presented in an irresponsible manner that could be reasonably be foreseen to cause action detrimental to others or self, I believe that the prosecution can be warranted.  While I don't encourage the policing of the Internet from the government, legally sanctioned prosecution for reckless use of the First Amendment is something that is logical to me.  This does not prelude schools or other institutions from installing software on computers that can block access to these sites.  In terms of government documents, I think that the Freedom of Information Act widens the scope of the government being able to post information on the Internet, yet some personal information from these documents can be redacted.

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This decision to censor certain items on the internet would tarnish our first amendment freedom of speech.  I understand that idea of wanting to protect our society, but once one item is censored there is no way other items will be discussed to censor.  You would have a never-ending court cases about censorship on the internet, or we would be in China's situation where pretty much everything is censored, and Google had to shut down its service in many parts of China.  Censorship is not the answer, but education.  As a educator, one of the key skills I can teach my students today is how to be a ethical user of technology.  There is way too much dangerous information out on the internet that we have to teach our children how to properly digest, use, throw out information.  But as soon as our country would go to that level of censorship, we are then not a true democracy.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the first two, my opinion is definitely not -- they should not be censored.  In both cases, it is too hard to tell what information should be allowed and what should not.  The line between hate speech and political commentary is too hard to draw clearly.  So is the line between bomb making instructions and legitimate scientific knowledge.

As to government documents, some already are and clearly should be.  I do not know how to give an easy way to distinguish between documents that should and should not be censored.  However, my rule of thumb would be that documents that give away secrets about how we fight wars, how we spy on other countries and what our diplomatic plans are should not be available.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
This is a difficult issue. First of all, even if we did decide we were going to censor the net, how would we do it? Although places like China have been able to restrict access, America has opposed their restrictions. It's hard to imagine how we could control the entire world's access.
krishna-agrawala | Student

A very wide range of information can be contained within the the three general areas identified in the question. It will not be appropriate to take decision on censoring on some particular content on the Internet just because it can be classified as belonging to one of the topics. It will not be right to ban anything and every thing that can be classified as hate speech, bomb making instructions, or government documents. Similarly it will bu highly undesirable to allow free publicity on the Internet of some material just because it can be classified as hate speech, bomb making instructions, or government documents.

Let us take, for example, government document. The budget approved by a government is a government document, which must be made available on the Internet, However, a government document relating to its analysis and planned strategy in an ongoing war, is most probably is not the kind of document which should be allowed to be published on the Internet or any other publicly accessible media. In principle the same criteria of censorship should be applicable to all mediums of communications including the Internet.

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