Ethical Analysis Of The Communications Decency Act Of 1996

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The Communications Decency Act was written in 1995 and was Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It was led by Senator James Exon who was the primary proponent of the Act. He felt that the Internet was a danger to minors and that it should be censored; this was with specific importance on content that fell into the pornographic category. He is quoted as saying this, “Barbarian pornographers are at the gate and they are using the Internet to gain access to the youth of America.” (Cannon, 1996). So in his quest to protect America’s youth he proposed the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA). Within this Act, there existed two provisions - the anti-indecency provision and the anti-obscenity provision. The provisions stated that it …show more content…
One of the main points of Kantianism is that All persons are treated as moral equals. Furthermore, Kantianism proposes two categorical imperatives; I have chosen to use the second one for this analysis. The imperative is written as this: “Act so that you always treat both yourself and other people as ends in themselves, and never only as a means to an end.” (Quinn, 2015) Plainly stated, it is unethical to use another person as merely a stepping stone on the pathway to reaching an ultimate goal. So under this premise, not only is the CDA unethical, but all censorship that includes the monitoring of citizens must be unethical. The government will use the citizens as a means to end in order to invoke the censorship. This goes against the second categorical imperative of Kantianism. The citizens must be controlled in order to invoke the censorship; this can be achieved through controlling what they can or cannot post on their respective web outlets, forcing websites to monitor emails or other forms of communication, and also by obligating websites to control the content published by their users. By using the citizens in this manner, this infringes on several of the freedoms provided in the United States; namely, the citizen’s freedom of speech, right to privacy, and freedom of expression. (Shuwei, 2012) Thus, under Kantianism, censorship in the form of the CDA is unethical and should not be practiced. Regardless, the CDA was stilled signed into law and it is still considered harmful by many, including myself, for minors to have access to explicit material. However, it does not change the fact that Kantianism shows the CDA to be unethical. In my opinion, Kantianism has succeeded in this scenario with respect to the ruling that all censoring of obscene and indecent material through the infringement of the rights of citizens is unethical. I believe that censorship is necessary in

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