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Internet Censorship Two Case Studies: Australia and the United States Essay

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I. Introduction

Internet censorship laws started appearing around the world in 1995. These laws covered content already illegal in existing laws for non-internet content, as well as for content that is not suitable for minors. Worldwide, four different approaches were taken with internet censorship. 1) The government encouraged user self-regulation, and voluntary use of content filters by their citizens. 2) Laws were implemented that penalized content providers who made censored material available online. 3) Some governments instituted country wide blocking of censored material. 4) The most restrictive censorship implemented by some governments was complete blocking or restrictive access to the internet. 1

This paper will show whether the ethics of censoring internet content depends on the culture and laws of the country. I personally believe that internet censorship is not ethical and internet users should decide for themselves what they can and cannot see. This paper will prove the ethical implications of internet censorship through two case studies: the United States' Communications Decency Act, and Australia's Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act 1999. The United States and Australia have both taken two different approaches to internet censorship. However, both countries started out with similar censorship laws. The United States in 1996 passed the Communications Decency Act. This law was later found to be unconstitutional and in violation of first amendment rights to freedom of speech. The US currently has no internet censorship laws. The Australian government uses the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act 1999 to censor internet traffic to this day.

II. US and the ...


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...4, .

Internet Censorship in Australia, 20 December 2002, Electronic Frontiers Australia, 23 April 2004, .

Review of the Operation of Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, 8 November 2002, Electronic Frontiers Australia, 23 April 2004, .

Jacques Berleur, Penny Duquenoy, Diane Whitehouse, Eds., Ethics and the Governance of the Internet, September 1999, Internalional Federation for Information Processing, 23 April 2004, .

Meghan Shapiro, Censorship, November 1998, University College of the Cariboo, 23 April 2004, .


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