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Critically examine actual and suggested ways of regulating internet pornography and race hate speech, and the merits and de-merits of these approaches.

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Introduction

Critically examine actual and suggested ways of regulating internet pornography and race hate speech, and the merits and de-merits of these approaches. Does the internet 'deserve the highest protection from government intrusion', as Judge Dalzell argued in ACLU v Reno? There have been many suggested ways to regulate pornography and racial hate on the internet. However, there are many problems associated with each of these ways; because there is no one way that everyone would agree to, of regulating pornographic and racial hate websites on the internet. Although there is existing legislation to try and combat this growing problem, is it effective, and would suggested ways would be better or worse in trying to combat the problem. The internet is, "A network connecting many computer networks and based on a common addressing system and communications protocol TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). From its creation in 1983 it grew rapidly beyond its largely academic origin into an increasingly commercial and popular medium." ('Internet' - Britannica CD multimedia, 1999.) The growth of the internet has been very rapid within recent years. "In 1981, fewer than 300 computers were linked to the internet ... ...read more.

Middle

The Human Rights Act 1998 gives everyone the right to think and say and to view anything that they want to. However, this is not an absolute right, as there are very strict rules in the UK relating to racist behaviour. People are not allowed to say things that are offensive to other people. This is very controversial because it entitles people to think and say whatever they want, as long as it is not offensive to other people. This has to be balanced between harm to people and their right to free speech. However, this can create other problems if all sexually explicit websites were censored, as some websites contain important information on sexually transmitted diseases would not be available people who wanted to find out the facts about them. "Information regarding protection from AIDS, birth control or prison rape is sexually explicit and may be considered indecent or patently offensive in some communities, and this kind of speech would be affected by the provisions of the CDA which did not define the word indecent." ('Censorship and the Internet' - New Law Journal 1997) One of the ways of regulating this material is, The Obscene Publications Act 1959. ...read more.

Conclusion

of this act provides that, "a photograph includes 'data stored on a disk or by other electronic means which is capable of conversion into a photograph." In the case of R vs. Fellows and Arnold 1997, "the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against convictions for possessing indecent photographs of a child, having an obscene article for publication and distributing indecent photographs, the material in question being available over a computer network. The defendants had contended that such computer data did not constitute a photograph for the purposes of section 1 of the 1978 act... Evans LJ decided that: although the computer disk was not a photograph it was a copy of an indecent photograph." ('Information Technology Law' - Rowland and Macdonald - page 496) This act was put in place to protect children under the age of sixteen, who are venerable, who do not necessarily understand the implications of what is happening to them. No-one is ever going to agree on the best method of regulating the internet, if it is self regulation or new or existing legislation. The internet can never be fully regulated, and if it was regulated, the problem of pornography and racial hate would still exist, but in a form that cannot be monitored, so it would not solve the problem but cause a new one. (Total words - 1670) ...read more.

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