Thursday, March 10, 2005

Public access for all. . . .almost.

I found the “Public internet access” article especially interesting because of its origins as trying to justify public access computers. Written to quantify what young people use public access computers for, it was a attempting to find out if they were used for ‘educational purposes’ as had been hoped for by the computer providers. What I find so interesting is that people should feel it necessary to provide public computers only if they are used for educational purposes. If people are deserving of equal computer access what should it matter what they use it for? If the idea is to get people comfortable and proficient in computer use, then they should be provided access regardless of their use. I also found it important that the author mention that public access computers are especially useful in this computer literacy pursuit because people can learn from one-another. Do you feel that computer use should be regulated if it is publicly provided? Or should freedom of computer access be a right for everyone, whether they obtain access at home, at work, or in a public institution?


  1. I think that if computers were publically provided by the government, restrictions of use would eventually work their way into a First Amendment case, and based on everything that's happened so far regarding computer restrictions, it appears that computer speech is being treated as protected speech. So, to answer that question, no -- I don't think it would be restricted. Certainly not any more than private use.

    The idea of public access beyond educational use intrigues me, but I just can't think beyond the telephone analogy. There are greater arguments that telephones should have been publically accessible, and they were always treated as a privledge rather than a right.

  2. I think that people who use the Internet in public institutions should have the right to access whatever sites they so choose. The problem arises because the access is in a public place, which means that other people (those passing by or the next user) will also have access to the sites. For example, say that an adult likes to play violent games on the Internet (I am intently staying away from a porn example). This adult is playing this game at the same time that young children are present. Would it be appropriate for the young child to be exposed to the violence in the game? What policies/procedures could the institution use to protect those who need/deserve protection while allowing others to explore freely?