Over Half Want Web Content Regulated

    October 25, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The Federal Communications Commission spends part of its time deciding whether or not suggestive neologisms like "hamsterbating" are appropriate before 9 p.m. According to a recent poll, over half of Americans want similar precautions taken with Internet content.

The Parents Television Council is usually the instigator of these time-suckers, bringing more attention to racy material than the networks that air it. (Wait, was it okay I said "suckers?" Will I be fined for it?)

Regardless, according a poll conducted by Zogby International and 463 Communications, 29 percent of respondents said Internet content should be regulated just like television content, and 24 percent said the government should institute a ratings system like the one used for movies.

Luckily (depending on how you look at it), the overwhelming majority of regulation supporters were over 70. Just 33 percent of 18-24 year-olds thought it was a good idea, while 72 percent of septuagenarians thought so.

“Some view the Internet as their new best friend, others as an increasingly powerful tool that can infect our youth with harmful images and thoughts and therefore must be controlled,” said 463 partner Tom Galvin.

“Our challenge as a society is to let the Internet flourish as a dynamic force in our economy and communities while not chipping away at the fundamental freedoms that created the Internet in the first place.”

But only 36 percent thought government blocking of content would be unconstitutional, so don’t think there might not be support for chipping.

I have an opinion and here it is: Government blocking of any content brings up Constitutional issues as it is, at its fundamental level, making a law abridging freedom of speech.

But also, from a media theory standpoint, there is a big difference between the Internet and television. Television, like radio, is a one-way medium with content transmitted over the airwaves to a passive consumer without regard to the consumer’s ability to filter the messages and/or visual exposure.

The Internet is a two-way medium with active users both consuming and producing content. Consumers have a choice of what to view, and have a choice of what to produce, making the Internet the most democratic medium ever devised on this planet.

And we don’t want the FCC (or AT&T and Verizon and Comcast for that matter) stepping in to discuss whether using the phrase "hamsterbating" is in violation of some arbitrary, culturally and perceptually defined standard.