Monday, July 31, 2006

Freedom Of Speech Is Not Exercised When You Mislead People

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 was passed into law this week by the US Congress. The law is aimed at protecting children from online predators and specifies how hyperlinks and domain names leading to sexual content should be presented. It prohibits "misleading" domain names and links. But so many people are complaining that this is taking away their freedom of speech? Since when is misleading people freedom of speech?

I have the right and the freedom to choose with what I want to be associated with and what not. If you mislead me to view pictures I don’t want to be associated with, then you are taking away that freedom. If you are using freedom of speech to take away that freedom, how can you still call it freedom of speech? One right to freedom should not take away another. But this is exactly the problem we have with all these freedom rights. Criminals and predators are striving on these rights and law-abiding citizens have to suffer because of them. Freedom and human rights only seem to be applicable to those people against whom we were supposed to be protected in the first place by these exact same rights.

People are more concerned about the fact that they no longer can use prank links, than the safety of our children on the web. I don’t think prank links to obscene and offensive content are funny at all. You are forcing junk down everybody’s throats. It is not only children who are at stake here, but adults who are sensitive to this material are also affected. This debate is heating up all over the world on blogs and forums. But the debates are doing the goal of this law no good. These discussions are filled with links to prank and indecent sites, with the excuse that they are used for illustrative purposes. I don’t understand why the owners of these blogs don’t moderate these comments, because they are only promoting these indecent websites by including their links in the posts.

If this law is enforced and applied correctly, the Internet will not only be a safer place for our children, but it will become a safer environment for every Internet user. We should also see a decline in spyware and spam related problems, because most pornographic websites install spyware on your computer and steal your e-mail address to spam you with junk e-mails. Just download a program like Spybot and have a look at the number of adult related sites that are blocked by this program. The worst-case scenario is where your children click on these misleading links, get exposed to the harmful content on the site and have spyware installed on your home computer. These malicious programs periodically redirect users to indecent sites, so your children get exposed over and over again, your computer becomes a host for several spyware programs and indirectly helps with the promotion of these sites. In the end you walk the risk of becoming an accomplice in child pornography, unknowingly and all this because of a misleading link. This is not freedom of speech at all, it is an infringement of so many rights that it is impossible to list them all here. You will never like it when a stranger walks up to your children in the park and shows them pornographic pictures and plants a spying device on them, so why don’t you mind strangers on the Internet misleading not only your children but also everybody else.

Coenraad de Beer - Platinum Author

Cyber Top Cops - The Cyber Security Specialists Platinum Author

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Article! I absolutely agree with the points you made. I have no problem with freedom of speech as long as it's honest. There's certain things I don't want to subject myself to and I should have the freedom not to subject myself to that. The world needs to read your article.