Caught in the Seamless Web: Does the
Internet's Global Reach Justify Less
Freedom of Speech?
An instance of the inexplicable conservatism and arrogance of the Turkish customs authorities was recently evidenced by the prohibition of the importation of typewriters into the country. The reason advanced by the authorities for this step is that typewriting affords no clew to the author, and that therefore in the event of seditious or opprobrious pamphlets or writings executed by the typewriter being circulated it would be impossible to obtain any clew by which the operator of the machine could be traced.…The same decree also applies to the mimeograph and other similar duplicating machines and mediums.
Scientific American, July 6, 1901
The history of censorship is inextricably intertwined with technological progress. From the printing press, through television, and on to the Internet, innovations in communication inevitably have prompted official efforts to limit or control new media. The United States was the first nation to provide formal protection for freedom of the press. Nevertheless, despite America's foundational commitment to liberty for the technology of print, policymakers and courts in the United States historically have been slow to extend the same freedom to newer innovations.
The Internet bucked that trend. In the brief time between 1996 and the present, U.S. courts were presented with a number of significant cases involving attempts to restrict information available on the Internet and the World Wide Web. 1 That growing body of law