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Censorship on the Web


The Internet offers instant access to information across national and cultural borders, but along with helpful information the Internet hosts a disturbing amount of unsavory material. Militias and hate groups use Web sites to recruit new members and spread their views. International terrorists use Web sites as recruiting tools and for boasting about suicide bombings. Criminals, anarchists and dissenters post guidebooks and tips on how to do all kinds of illegal activities, from making suitcase bombs to spreading viruses.

Some advocate cyber censorship to irresponsible Web sites, blogs and discussion groups. Cyber censorship typically means blocking access to Web sites, but it can also mean closing sites and removing them from host servers. Censorship advocates are opposed by free speech supporters. The controversy over censorship is not new. In most cases words are acceptable, whereas actions can be punishable. But in some cases, words are punishable, too.

A second censorship guideline hinges on local standards of morality. Local communities can apply their own standards to determine whether material is obscene.

However, local standard are difficult to sort out on the Internet where a Web surfer in Tennessee can easily access Web sites, bulletin boards and chart groups that originate from anywhere in the world.

The U. S. Supreme Court supports the concepts of cyberzones that limit net access to certain materials. It is possible to construct barriers in cyberspace and use them to screen for identity, making cyberspace more like the physical world and more amenable to zoning laws. As an example, AOL is trying to develop a family - friendly Internet portal by enforcing policies against offensive speech.

But in some countries cyber citizens have no choice but to use a government-controlled ISP. In many countries, free speech is not a basic right conferred to all citizens. Many dictatorial regimes want their citizens to receive news from the outside world only after government censor has screened it. Officials in more than 20 countries use sophisticated tools to block Web sites, filter e-mail, and censor discussion groups.

China has some of the most rigorous Internet censorship in the world. The “Great Firewall of China” as it is sometimes called, blocks Internet content by preventing IP addresses of objectionable sites from being routed through its gateways into China. In Iran, government censors monitor political and news Web sites. In Saudi Arabia if you tried to open “Rolling Stone” magazine’s Web site, you would find that access has been denied. The Saudi government claims it censors the Internet to preserve culture and heritage. That argument in many ways reflects the concept of cyberzones that conform to local standards of morality. Even free-speech activists seem to agree. They say: “We do think that information should be free, but we do need to find a balance for respect for sovereign states to preserve their own culture.”

Despite such cultural sensitivity, technology giants, such as Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems have been criticized for providing foreign government with tools for blocking culturally objectionable sites.


What do you think?


1. Should government be allowed to block access to Web sites based on local religions, politics and customs?

2. Do you believe that a privately held ISP like AOL has the right to censor the data posted on Web sites it hosts?

3. Should companies like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems provide blocking technology to foreign government?


Projects. Perform the project given.

1. Worldwide, communication capabilities are growing quickly. Nevertheless, there is a great disparity in communication capabilities among countries. For this project, use any resources to gather information about the communication options that are available throughout the world. Consider available technologies and the number of people who use them. Your research can include the following: land-based phones, cellular phones, dial-up connection for Internet, cable Internet, such services as DSL and ISDN, wireless Internet, LAN. Consider how they might affect lifestyles and economies of different regions. Suppose that you are organizing a debate about global communication technology and you must devise a controversial question on which the debate will be based and write it down. You should also write three ”pro” and “con” paragraphs just to make sure that both sides will have substantial material to debate.

2. Many companies have a Web site that provides information on their products and services. Use a search engine to locate a company in your career field. Suppose you are a recruiter for that company and you’ll be attending a series of college career fairs. Create a one-page information flyer that you can hand out to prospective recruits. It should include: company’s name, location(s) URL; a brief description of the company’s mission, products, and services; a description of typical working conditions; instructions on how to submit a resume electronically.


Final test. Do the tasks in the following test.

1. … is a utility that records a packet’s path from your computer to its destination.

2. HTTP is a classified a(n) … protocol, which maintains no record of previous interactions and handles each request based entirely on information that comes with it.

3. … is a high-speed, always-on Internet access technology that runs over standard phone lines.

4. HTML tags are enclosed in angle brackets. (True/False)

5. You may experience … delays of 1 second or more when using satellite data transport services.

6. HTML is abbreviation for … .

a) Hypertext machine link c) Hypertext markup language

b) Hypertext makeup language d) Hypertext mail link

7. Which of the following protocols is responsible for addressing packets so that they can be routed to their destination?

a) IP b) TCP c) POP d) FTR

8. Which of the following are examples of browsers?

a) Mozzila b) Opera c) Netscape Navigator d) all of the above

9. The Internet grew out of the …, which was created in 1969.

10. … is a set of specifications for creating documents that browser can display as a Web page.

11. In communication technology, … means the change of characteristics of a signal.

12. In everyday conversation the term “Web page” is often used for the HTML document as well as the Web page you see on your screen, even though technically they are not the same. (True/False)

13. Networked computers are vulnerable to … access to data.

14. HTML documents do not actually contain graphics. (True/False)

15. Domain name … are computers that host a database called the Domain Name System.

16. HTTP is a protocol that works with … to get Web resources to your desktop.

17. If permitted by your DSL provider, you can use your DSL connection for voice

calls as well as for transmitting data. (True/False)

18. A browser uses … to request a specific HTML document from a web server, and then interprets the HTML tags in order to display the requested Web page.

19. A … area network is a data communications network that connects personal computers within a very limited geographical area – usually a single building.

20. A permanently assigned IP address is referred to as a … IP address.

Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1096

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