7 March 2008 Dear Thank you for submitting your document to Fix My Draft for proofreading. Please find your proofread document attached. Regards Fix My Draft Information About Your Proofread Document Your editor was: Peter Collier English style: UK English Referencing style: Harvard Style Editing Legend red highlight remove word blue highlight replaced word - due to spelling mistake or incorrect word yellow highlight additional word green highlight comments and suggestions Editor’s Comments The word „internet‟ has traditionally been treated as a proper noun requiring capitalization (ie Internet). However, this has typically been relaxed in more recent times. For a more formal document, you may wish to consider capitalising the word. 1 ESSAY The voice of a nation: The case for censoring the internet. (1285 words) Abstract The internet is the only form of mass media in the Western world that is not censored. Censorship involves regulating the access to mass media dependant on its content. It deals with protecting society from content such as extreme violence and sex. There is clearly a very strong case in favour of censoring the internet. The government must introduce internet censorship for three main reasons. Firstly, it promotes decent values and morals within society. Secondly, censorship protects minors from potentially harmful material. Finally, censorship is necessary to maintain national security and reduce crime. 2 Introduction: Censorship of the internet throughout the Western world is essential in promoting decent values and morals within society, for protecting minors, as well as for maintaining national security. Currently, Australia‟s internet censorship laws are close to non-existent, with the burden being put upon each individual state to legislate. In a recent survey conducted by Freedom House, Australia ranked in the top fifteen least censored countries in the world, ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom (Karlekar, & Sussman, 2002, p. 9). Evidently, Australia is lagging behind the Western world in censorship of the internet and much more could be done by all countries to tighten control on the internet. Promoting Decent Values and Morals: Censorship is the process of banning or deleting material that is inappropriate for the general public to see. This material is often vulgar, exceptionally violent, sexually disturbing and has a tendency to “offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults” (Armstrong & Hudson, 1998, p. 1). It is this material that must be withheld from general public viewing to maintain decent values within society. In 1995, Singapore‟s minister for information, the arts and health revealed that Singapore practiced censorship of the internet, “…because the act of censorship is itself symbolic and an affirmation ... of the values we hold as a community" (Cram, 1996, p. 13). Freedom of speech is often voiced as a case against censorship. There is a fine line between protecting society and impeding upon its democratic rights. Enid Campbell and Harry Whitmore in their book, Freedom in Australia, (1973, p. 268) wrote that: “Censorship … is a familiar battleground for the champions of freedom of speech on the one hand and the suppressors of harmful material on the other. Absolutist views are the norm and both sides accuse each other of illogicality, prurience and more deadly sins.” In Australia, the National Crimes Act of 1914, section 85ZE specifically deals with the issue of inappropriate transmissions across a telecommunications network by stating that: “A person shall not knowingly or recklessly use a telecommunications service supplied by a carrier in such a way as would be regarded by reasonable persons as being in all the circumstances, offensive.” Therefore, it is already legislated in Australia that offensive material cannot be transmitted through the internet. While Australia is regarded as a democratic nation whose right to freedom of speech is upheld, there is still a limit to what can be said. This underlines the need to invoke censorship to uphold this legislation. 3 Decent values and morals are thus promoted within society by the offensive material being blocked by the government and not released into circulation. Protecting Minors: Minors are at even greater risk of being harmed by objectionable material found on the internet. In 2001, two thirteen year old girls ran away from Clayfield College boarding school in Brisbane. It was later discovered that they were suffering from severe depression and other mental illnesses caused by pornography they had viewed on their computer over the internet. On top of this, they had also viewed news groups which contained extremely violent and sexually vulgar information. If censorship had been imposed by the government, the teenagers would never have viewed the pornography or read the damaging information on the news groups. Not only will this material have a more profound impact upon minors, but they are also more likely to come into contact with the material on the internet than in any other form. This is due to the fact that children surf the internet largely unsupervised, in the privacy of their homes. This could lead to the child either deliberately or unknowingly being exposed to objectionable material without the knowledge of any adults and without any social restraints being placed upon them. For example, a child under eighteen years of age is unable to enter a newsagency and buy a pornographic magazine. However, the same child could quite easily, without leaving his home, look up similar sexual material that is freely available on the internet. The latter option is significantly easier from the child‟s perspective as well as being completely achievable given the current censorship laws. In relation to internet censorship, Heins (2001, p. 11) states that: “The argument here is not that commercial pornography, mindless media violence, or other dubious forms of entertainment are good for youngsters or should be foisted on them. Rather, it is … defining what it is we want to censor.” While the challenge does lie with the censor as to what is defined as inappropriate, the current state of inaction is markedly worse. CompuServe, an internet service provider in Germany has taken the bold step of banning all sexual material on the internet available through their service. This is the first step that needs to be taken by many other Western internet providers and governments to protect our children. Maintaining National Security: Not only is censorship necessary for protecting the individual, it is also necessary for protecting national security and reducing crime. 4 The internet, as in the case of television, not only becomes a method of structuring the problem of crime, law and order and more regulation but also as a contributory factor to the problem itself. (Spencer, 1999, p. 246) After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America, it was revealed that there was an increase in “chatter” on internet bulletin boards and newsgroups between terrorist organisations. When this news hit the press, thousands of curious Americans searched the internet for these newsgroups and were able to view many of these terrorist discussions. While the FBI was able to shut down many of these sites because of the weak censorship framework that existed, many Americans were not able to view the information. (Consider re- phrasing this last sentence to improve clarity.) In the months following the Oklahoma City bombings of 1995, it was revealed that bomb making instructions similar to that used, were readily available on the internet. Shortly after news of this went public, American Senator Dianne Feinstein stated that: “I have a problem with people teaching others how to build bombs that kill. The First Amendment doesn’t extend to the protection of that kind of information, especially when it resides in electronic format so easily available.” (Availability of bomb making instructions on the internet, 1995) More than five years later, neither Australia nor the United States are any closer to censorship of the internet. Given the continuing terrorist threats, it is obvious that now is the time to start censoring the internet – just like all other forms of mass media. Conclusion: The Western world must introduce censorship of the internet. Firstly, censoring the internet will ensure correct moral and social values are upheld within society. Secondly, censorship will protect minors from inappropriate and potentially damaging material. Finally, censoring the internet will aid the government in restricting access to information that could be used by potential terrorists and other criminals. 5 List of References: ARMSTRONG, M., & HUDSON, M.(1998). Internet content: Balancing community values. Sydney: RMIT University Availability of bomb making instructions on the internet (May, 1995). Retrieved June 5, 2003 from http://courses.cs.vt.edu/~cs3604/lib/Censorship/Terrorism.html CAMPBELL, E., & WHITMORE, H.(1973). Freedom in Australia. Adelaide: The Griffin Press CRAM, J.(1996). Censorship of the Internet: Guardian of public morals or wakeup call for public libraries? inCite, 17(8), 12-13 HEINS, M.(2001). Not in front of the children: Indecency, censorship, and the innocence of youth. New York: Hill and Wang KARLEKAR, K., & SUSSMAN, L.(2002). The annual survey of press freedom 2002. Retrieved June 2, 2003, from http://www.freedomhouse.org National Crimes Act. (1914). [Legislation]. Canberra, Australia SPENCER, J.(1999). Crime on the internet: Its presentation and representation. The Howard Journal, 38(3), 241-251. Retrieved June 2, 2003, from http://web7.epnet.com:80/citation.asp?tb=1&_ug=dbs+0+ln+en%2Dus+sid+ B615A0B3%2DFD3F%2D42FB%2DA8FF%2D1121D9F32FEC%40Session mgr6+BC06&_us=bs+anti%2Dcensorship+ds+anti%2Dcensorship+dstb+ES +fh+0+hd+0+hs+0+or+Date+ri+KAAACB2A00217728+sm+ES+ss+SO+101 D&fn=1&rn=6.