Friday, October 12, 2007

Web Filtering: A Human Rights Violation?

By Marcie Barnes

(This post is part of an assignment for the class I am taking, Global Impact of New Communication Technologies at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I will be looking into some issues related to Web Filtering and Censorship.)

My last post got me thinking more about all the web filters out there and the debate as to whether they are constitutional. A lot of companies use web filtering software to limit what their employees have access to, it is common for parents to filter the web for their children, and even public libraries keep certain kinds of sites off-limits. This article from PC Magazine explains web filters well (but turns into sort of a product review towards the end.) And this piece from C|Net gives a good explanation of web filters and your children.

I found a blog that focuses on "protecting yourself against human predators roaming the Internet", and this post which nicely summarizes the debate - which basically involves how much filtering the government should be doing (in the case of children). I don't have as much of a problem with companies filtering the Internet, because I think it's fair for them to ask their employees to stay on work-related sites while at work. As for the library, that's a tough call. In theory, I would want the library to provide the Internet unfiltered, but since people of all ages use the library, I don't have a problem with porn filters. But what about blocking social websites such as myspace? Is that limiting access or simply preventing virtual socializing in the library? The government has weighed in on this already. What do you think?

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