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Activists Claim Online Porn Censorship Impedes Free Speech

Free-speech activists are concerned filtering online child porn could lead to wide-scale Internet censorship

Activists Claim Online Porn Censorship Impedes Free Speech
These days, everyone from government officials to religious activists, from law enforcement to ISPs, are using child protection as a means to wage a larger war against online porn.

Free-speech activists feel Internet censorship is just getting started under the guise of child safety, Canadian online gay and lesbian site Xtra.ca reported. 

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 "Once the infrastructure for filtering is in place - for any reason, though porn is usually the first excuse - there is an incentive to increase its use," said Nart Villeneuve, a research fellow at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, in an e-mail. "I see 'mission creep' all the time, where once in place, filtering is extended to cover content areas that were not in the original mandate."

American Civil Liberties Union staff lawyer Chris Hansen agrees we are indeed on the precipice of a sensitive subject.

"I don't think the people who are trying to get rid of child porn are going after other types of speech," he said. "But I do think they are willing to take steps in the name of suppressing child porn that has the effect of suppressing other types of speech. There are those who believe the safest approach is to eliminate everything."

One example of the all-or-nothing approach was New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's misguided attempt to crack down on child pornography by having ISPs sign off on his anti-child-porn campaign. The outcome of that, and other similar measures, is that ISPs - including  AOL, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast - now seem to be removing as much legitimate content as they are child pornography.

 






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Justin Bourne

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