The Kirkus Review, November '97
Grossman, a freelance journalist, covers some old ground (the Communications
Decency Act of 1996, for instance) but for the most part she concerns herself
with newer issues unique to cyberspace. One area of controversy is cryptography,
the process by which digital messages are scrambled to keep them private. The
government finds the idea of complete privacy uncomfortable: What if someone is
passing seditious messages or child pornography in encrypted email?
One of the most volatile areas is copyright protection in an age of electronic
production: Grossman covers here the "copyright terrorism" practiced by the Church
of Scientology, which relentlessly litigated and, it has been alleged, physically threatened
and harassed former members who tried to make copyrighted church texts public on the Internet.
Although courts have supported the Scientologists' right to protect their materials,
the peripheral results, most notably the closing down of several remailers (who offered
anonymity to those who wanted to send messages without identifying themselves), was,
many felt, too great a price to pay.
Grossman also devotes space to the battle of
the sexes on the Internet, paying particular attention to issues of sexual harassment
via computer and the endless war against pornography of all kinds; the proliferation
of pornography on the Internet seems, Grossman observes, to prove that "sex perceived
regulation as a dam and diverts into new media." Unfortunately, the solutions that
Grossman suggests, while more politically moderate than those suggested by others,
seem to subvert the true purpose of the Internet. She suggests smaller, more
manageable virtual communities, whereas the Internet, in theory, is supposed to
link all corners of the world.
At least Grossman is offering solutions, however, which is what distinguishes
net.wars from most contribution on this seemingly inexhaustible topic.
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