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Sex on the Net: The dilemma of policing cyberspace.

Book Review
by David O'Toole

A week may be long time in politics but three years is a VERY long time in the realm of Internet censorship. Nevertheless Sex on the Net - Yaman Akdeniz is still an excellent introduction to net censorship.

Akdeniz teaches Cyberlaw: Information Technology, Law and Society at the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds. He is a writer on Internet-related issues and director of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties(UK).

Sex on the Net's subject matter is the growth in moral panics over sexual content and pornography surrounding the rise in popularity of the Internet as a communications medium. It puts these fears into the context with some comparison with other media and gives useful and succinct histories of censorship of previous decades.

The Internet is global in scope but much of the debate surrounding it, like much on the Internet itself, has an American slant. Sex on the Net, though, separately covers the US, Europe and the UK. The attitudes to sex and porn, the climate in which it operates and the legislation of these areas is markedly different and discrete treatment makes this clearer.

Later chapters cover the developments in censoring and rating schemes such as PICS, Safesurf and RASCi, the introduction of and inherent problems in filtering software, hotlines and self-regulatory solutions and the growth of the debate surrounding child porn.

There is little here in the way of a passionate defence of free speech but this is not Sex on the NET's real value. It provides a dispassionate documentation of the Internet / Porn Wars landscape in a slim and inexpensive volume and as such is pure GOLD.


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Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties

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