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Debate Over Net Controls Continues

First it was liberating; now it's scary. Time magazine portrays the Net as a cesspool of filth, while each month Wired magazine writes about hip new sites on the information playground.

Debate over free speech on the Net--and whether the government should censor obscene materials online--is still red hot. The controversy has conservatives ironically calling for government intervention, while opponents cite First Amendment rights.

The origin of the Net furor is threefold, according to one Electronic Frontier Foundation official. First of all, people are nervous about the new online technology. Second, people are nervous about sex, And third, many people are nervous about the safety of their children. The merging of these three trends is causing the decibel level of the debate to rise quickly.

While no one knows if and when the controversy will end, next month's debate over the House of Representatives' version of the telecommunications bill should provide more fodder for both sides.