Protection vs censorship

Protection vs censorship

Protection vs censorship


There is a lot of online debate about censorship. Do you want access to everything available online, or do you want it “filtered” according to someone else’s morals and tastes? When does limiting access to certain types of information become censorship?

The Online Issues Forum (GO OLISSU) tackles this and other tricky issues of the online world on a daily basis. If you monitor the threads on this forum, you’ll quickly see why it’s important to balance the need to protect children from improper content with the need to protect first amendment rights. It’s tempting to go too far one way or the other. Even the government is getting its hands in the issue by sponsoring legislation intended to eliminate “indecent” material online.

CompuServe itself was embroiled in controversy concerning this issue early in 1996. The German Government forced CompuServe to stop access to a variety of Internet newsgroups. Because CompuServe (at the time) did not have the technology to cut off access to members in a Single country, they had to deny these newsgroups to all members. This caused a great uproar, and CompuServe ultimately restored access to all newsgroups, but not before proving just how volatile the censorship issue really is.

Personally, I like the compromise solution—giving users access to everything, but providing control software so that each user can decide whether to block access to specific areas. This is the online equivalent of changing the channel on your television when you see something you don’t like; you protect your family without imposing your views on others.