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Kyle Wisnewski
Mrs. Seligson
English 103 002
March 31, 2017
Internet Filters Are Our Downfall
The government should not have the authority to regulate or censor the internet from the

citizens. Internet censorship has been a heated topic over the years since the internets birth, and

it would cause more harm than good. In Four phases of Internet regulation, by John Palfrey,

the Head of School at Phillips Academy and a leading American educator, scholar, and law

professor, he describes the four stages of internet regulation and how theyve changed over the

years as: open internet, access denied, access controlled, and access contested. Open internet

is when the internet is completely free and people are open to search and do what they want.

access denied is when the people started to believe that the internet needed to be managed or

blocked in certain ways, starting with countries like China and Saudi Arabia. The third phase

access controlled is when the regulation and blocks on the internet started to become more

forceful and harsh, controlling more content than they were originally meant for. The fourth

phase access contested is when the two colliding sides of the internet controversy fight over

how the internet should be managed (Palfrey 1). These four stages dont necessarily describe

how internet regulation has been treated throughout the years, but the four stages that the country

goes through for internet regulation. It would be a mistake to infer that Internet filtering is only

a phenomenon that takes place in states with histories of hostility to free expression. Democratic

states participate in extensive regulation of the Internet, just as authoritarian states do (Palfrey

7). This means that even places like the US have filtered and censored the Internet, even with

the free speech laws that we have. The government should not be able to regulate the internet

because it takes away freedom from the people to speak and learn what they want, the

government also has an easier method of keeping information from the citizens, and having to
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regulate and censor the internet would be an extra expense to the government since they would

need to invest in the equipment and technology to censor the internet.

Internet regulation can, and is also sometimes a good thing. One of the primary reasons

for Internet regulation is child safety and access to pornography, not new concerns but topics that

are of universal interest to parents, teachers, and policymakers around the world (Palfrey 4-5).

Censoring the internet can help keep children ignorant to adult type of material. Theres a ton of

material on the internet that people are free to search for, which includes the inappropriate sites.

This can be solved easily if the parents have a greater grasp on their children in keeping them

from this type of material. Its very easy to keep people from finding certain information like

this on the internet. Another reason why internet regulation might be a good thing is it helps

keep illegal information off the internet. People can easily make trafficking or illegal substance

websites that people visit. A third reason is it sets a limit on how much freedom people have.

People might argue that theyre free to just bully other people because of a lack of regulation on

the internet. This isnt valid because there are ways people can protect themselves from others

on the internet, and could simply just not use the internet. It should be the responsibility of the

person to use the precautions necessary to be safe while using the internet, and not the

governments duty to regulate.

Internet regulation keeps people from having the freedom to learn and write what they

want and share their information with the world. As said in Internet filtering 2.0: checking

intellectual freedom and participative practices at the schoolhouse door, Barbara A. Jansen,

ph.D., Field Supervisor for School Library Practicum at The University of Texas describes that

Educators and students use of participative tools dominates educational discourse as evidenced

through a variety of sources including associations conference agendas, print and online
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professional and trade publications, and educators blogs and Twitter posts (par. 4) This means

that people that are trying to teach and learn certain valid educational material or information

from the internet are unable to do so due to internet filters wrongfully censoring the information.

This is just one problem that occurs by having internet filters. Jansen describes intellectual

freedom as only existing

if individuals rights include holding any belief on any subject and conveying those

ideas in any form they choose, and if society upholds those rights by allowing

unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium

used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and the receiver of

the information (Jansen, par. 7).

This means that people have the freedom to learn information only if they can access the internet

without any form of censorship. This concept creates problems for people going to public

schools because the government cant legally restrict the First Amendment free speech rights.

The government has a much easier time of hiding controversial information from its

citizens when internet censorship is more severe. In Government information on the Internet,

by Greg R. Notess, writer, speaker, and consultant researching and covering the Internet since

1990, he describes the governments internet use The United States federal government

produces a great quantity of information and has been one of the largest publishers in the world

(par. 1). If the internet were to be filtered, the governmental information would be covered up

and people wouldnt be able to get information; especially controversial information. Theres

already many theories that describe the government hiding information about aliens, and money,

and other secret groups. The federal government certainly has made great use of the Internet

for the dissemination and organization of its publications. Since the early days of the Internet,
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government information resources have grown and expanded in scope (Notess, par. 5). The

governmental information on the internet has certainly grown over the years and having all of

that information readily available to access would help many people out that need the


Having internet filters would also be an extra expense to the government. As described in

Internet Filtering, by Sarah Houghton-Jan, director for the San Rafael Public Library in

California, Most libraries discover that they actually lose a substantial amount of money when

they choose to install filters Estimated start-up costs for the filtering software technology, staff

training, hardware, and software totaled $400,000 per year with ongoing annual costs of

$275,000-$300,000 (7). Having to pay this much money for just a library just shows the sheer

amount that the government would have to spend to censor thousands of inappropriate sites.

Houghton-Jan describes internet filters as blocking valid information while also allowing graphic

information (par. 3). Most filters are very ineffective in blocking the information people want

them to block.

In filter accuracy studies from 2001 to 2008, the average accuracy success rating of all

the tests combined is 78.347 percent. If you look only at other studies done from 2007 to

2008 to get the best of the most recent software, we see a nominally higher accuracy

percentage-83.316 percent-but the number of studies is limited and therefore leaves a

larger margin for error. While filters may be getting a little better theyre still wrong

at least 17 percent of the time for text content, and wrong 54 percent of the time on image

content (Houghton-Jan 3).

Like Houghton-Jan said, the filters are still wrong 17 percent of the time, which means that if

people used the up-to-date software, a lot of information would still be getting lost. If people
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were to even consider using filters, at least get the success rate to 95 percent or higher. Internet

filters do not have a high enough success rate for the cost and should therefore not be used.

Internet regulation overall would not help the country, and would instead have adverse

effects on the people and the economy. By regulating or censoring the internet, our freedom of

speech ability would waver and we would be less free all-together. The government could hide

or keep information from the citizens much easier by putting filters on the internet. Having these

filters would also not be very cost effective. The success rate of the filters in succession with the

amount of money it would cost to uphold these filters annually would cost the country more than

help. Harsh Internet censorship should not exist like it does in Japan, and China, and other Asian


Works Cited

Houghton-Jan, Sarah. Internet filtering. Library Technology Reports 46.8 (2010) 25. Academic

OneFile. Web. 31 March. 2017.

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Jansen, Barbara A. Internet filtering 2.0: checking intellectual freedom and participative

practices at the schoolhouse door. Knowledge Quest 39.1 (2010) 49. Academic OneFile.

Web. 29 March. 2017.

Notess, Greg R. Government Information on the Internet. Library Trends 52.2 (2003) 256.

Academic OneFile. Web. 30. March. 2017.

Palfrey, John. Four phase of Internet regulation. Social Research 77.3 (2010) 981. Academic

OneFile. Web. 29 March. 2017.