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The Internet and the World Wide Web in particular have become the greatest open forum for the free exchange of ideas in the history of man. The ability to instantly “publish" ideas and opinions on just about any topic has appealed to the sensibilities of millions worldwide. Today, virtually anything and everything can be found on the Internet. Opinions spanning the complete spectrum are available on the Internet: from Revisionists to Exterminationists, the Right to the Left, Christians to Pagans. Along with valued political and historical discourse, there are of course those who peddle pornography for cash.
Just as people have thrilled to their new found freedoms, governments have shuddered, recognizing their loss of control. Ever since the popularity of the Internet has grown, so have the concerns of the would-be censors and thought-police around the world. Oftentimes using the pornographers as a justification, censors worldwide have attempted to stem the tide of political dissent. Most of the countries of the world have explored various methods to censor materials on the Internet. Earlier this year, President Clinton signed a sweeping piece of censorship legislation known as the “Communications Decency Act” only to have it overturned in a court of law.
One of the countries leading the pack in the denial of free speech and thought is Germany. A new law under consideration in Germany's lower house of parliament would require on-line companies to block access to “child pornography,” “neo-Nazi materials,” or “other extreme pictures or writing” on the Internet.
Although this latest attempt at Internet censorship seems ominous and sends shivers down the spines of civil libertarians around the world, it is flawed. The bureaucrats in Germany don't understand the beauty and power of the Internet. Their attempt to control the minds of their people can be likened to the building of a fence to hold back the sea.
In response to Germany's threat, CompuServe, the world's second largest on-line service provider, has announced that it may simply move its operations out of Germany. CompuServe is considering moving its headquarters to another country that does not hold on-line companies responsible for the content of the Internet. CompuServe will however continue to provide services to Germany.
The general manager of CompuServe, Felix Somm, told German television, “It cannot be that a provider has to make massive investments to control an international network, if you can offer services with significantly less cost next door in Luxembourg.”
The genie called "freedom" is out of the bottle. While the politicians of the world try to put him back in, truth is being beamed from and to every corner of the globe.
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|Author(s):||Richard A. Widmann|
|Title:||Internet Round Up, The Internet, the Thought-Police, and CompuServe|
|Sources:||Smith's Report, no. 38, December 1996, p. 7|
|First posted on CODOH:||Oct. 2, 2015, 3:30 a.m.|