Free porn - this phrase conjures images of search engine scams, computer viruses and spam emails. It also hints at an important debate - not over cost-free porn, per se, but over a regulation-free Internet. As Internet usage exploded in the 1990s, so too did the utopian vision of universal access to unregulated information. Differing ideas of obscenity and the United States government's dominion over the web, though, have forced a serious dilemma, centered on Internet pornography, that involves regulation, freedom of information, first amendment rights, feminism and morality. This book examines the phenomenon of Internet pornography, demonstrating how that debate is an important case study in the wider argument over Internet regulation. Chapters objectively uncover the flaws of the most common arguments for and against regulation, and examine efforts to regulate the Internet; community standards of obscenity as grounds for regulation; the free speech debate; and harm to children, women and the moral environment. The author offers a final analysis that regulation of sexually explicit materials is ultimately futile, and that the utility of an unregulated Internet outweighs arguments against regulated sexually explicit materials.
Amy E. White is an assistant professor of philosophy at Ohio University in Zanesville, Ohio.