The Wide World of Censorship By: Donnia Zack-Williams Sarah D’Orsie Katie Sullivan
What is Censorship? • Censorship is a term often associated with totalitarianism, socialism, or anything but democracy. • While the definition of censorship has changed over centuries, the basic idea behind it is simple and has gone untouched: the protection of the most basic civil institutions of the family, the church, and the state
History of Censorship • In Ancient Greece, where democracy was founded, the Ancient philosopher Socrates fought against and eventually gave his life rather than adhere to the Athenian government’s censorship of his teachings. • With the Age of Enlightenment, the idea of intellectual freedom began to encompass political and economical thought as well – The American Revolution.
The Supreme Court Versus Censorship • The issue of censorship is one that strikes the Supreme Court at many angles with regards to the first amendment rights. • Roth V. United States • Texas V. Johnson • Reno V. A.C.L.U.
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. • Obscenity is not protected under the first amendment, however, a penumbra falls over the exact definition of the word.
Freedom of Information Act • (FOIA), enacted in 1966, was the first law that gave Americans the right to access the records of federal agencies. • The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies.
Public use of the Freedom of Information Act continues to rise, with 1,965,919 FOIA requests filed with federal agencies in fiscal year 1999. • The intent of the FOIA is to prevent agencies from having “secret law” and to make the government accountable to the public for its actions.
The Privacy Act • The Privacy Act of 1974 provides safeguards against an invasion of privacy through the misuse of records by Federal agencies. • The act also permits an individual to gain access to most personal information maintained by Federal agencies and to seek amendment of any inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant information • . Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act are also subject to the Privacy Act
Internet Filters • The first way companies go about filtering “inappropriate content” is by having a team of human researchers reviewing thousands of websites looking for not only trigger words but also pictures and subject matter that may be “inappropriate • The second way that Internet filtering companies compile their databases is through the use of electronic scanning devices, which continually browse the Internet, looking for key words such as “porn” or any other explicitives.
Along with the feature of updating one’s filtering software, parents or whomever is doing the filtering has the option to manually set boundaries on what content is allowed to be viewed and what isn’t allowed. • Also, one of the most common Internet filtering software in the world, CyberPatrol® • , is offered to customers for the home, the office, or even the school.
Censorship Abroad • While the United States, which is almost totally free of any legal censorship in the media, both electronic and print, other countries today are not so liberal on their views of censorship • the Official Secrets Act of 1911 • To add to Great Britain’s governmental censorship, the government also has a system called D-notice
Our Opinion • After all the research that we have done, it is clear that the United States, thus far, has done a noble job in reserving many the rights of citizens that most countries wouldn’t dream of reserving • While the First Amendment is sometimes seen as a controversial Amendment that is always coming under fire, it still protects many rights to which most citizens take for granted. Therefore, while some the material on the Internet can and should be deemed legally “obscene,” there is still so much information that, for the sake of intellectual progress, can never be censored.