What do you call the great enabler of truth managers? The bastion of scams, shams and slams? The mother lode of pornography? The apparatus ISIS uses to recruit young people to its jihad? The system scumbags use to hook up with teenage girls for illicit sex?
You call all these things by one name -- the Internet.
Designed for science, then, open, worldwide communications, the Internet has transmogrified into the ultimate, unfettered den of iniquity.
In "The Internet's dark side you don't use," USA Today tech columnist Kim Komando writes, "If you want to buy illegal drugs, guns, counterfeit money, stolen items, fake degrees or passports, cloned debit cards, hacking tools, weapons and more, you can." Then there are websites that "let you hire a hit man or escort, buy someone's identity or swap child pornography."
The dark side of the Internet has been growing exponentially for years. Why, a sane person might ask, does America allow such?
Silly person, our Constitution guarantees free "speech." And all the stuff on the Internet is classified as "speech." Thus, government attempts to throttle the terrible stuff on the Internet bump into the courts' infernal interpretation of "speech." The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1998 Child Online Protection Act was struck down by the courts. Finally, the narrowly focused Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000 addressing child Internet access only through schools and libraries was allowed to stand.
So, can America clean up the Internet?
Consider this from "Yes, we can clean up the Web" in England's Daily Mail by Edward Verity:
"Many obscene sites may be run by anonymous individuals from their bedrooms in far-flung countries, but the Internet, just like global finance, relies on large, respectable -- and often highly profitable -- companies to make it work."
"Anyone who has a home computer knows that to access the Internet you need a browser -- such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Then you need an Internet Service Provider (Comcast, AT&T, C Spire, etc.) to give you access to the Worldwide Web. To find websites, you use a search engine like Google or Yahoo.
"All these firms are highly respectable, international companies that have the technical skills to weed out the very worst sites, if only they could be made to act. Instead, Google has a picture search facility that spits out images of young girls engaged in sexual acts within seconds."
"Everyone who sets up a website needs to buy and register an address beginning www. Yet the Web address registrars do nothing to ban obscene names or even stop pornographers pulling tricks such as registering the names of prominent buildings or famous towns to lure innocent browsers to their sites.
"Surely companies could be forced to describe the nature of their sites before they are allowed to buy an address -- and refused one if they don't meet strict guidelines."
Surely! But too few Americans seem willing to make it happen.
Write Bill Crawford, a syndicated columnist from Meridian, at firstname.lastname@example.org.