Every 100 days the number of Internet users doubles. In February 1996, the Chinese government ratified a series of provisions to regulate access to and use of the Internet. Under the new rules, all electronic information must be routed through an official channel for monitoring. The regulations expressly forbid "engaging in activities at the expense of state security" as well as "producing, retrieving, duplicating or spreading information that may hinder public order." At roughly the same time, German prosecutors forced CompuServe to bar access for its 4.3 million subscriber's worldwide to 200 sex-related Usenet sites because of local German child pornography laws.
Two very different governments--for two very different reasons--have attempted to impose national authority over the Internet. Slowly, but surely, governments are becoming "conscious" of the Internet and its limitless possibilities. It is inevitable that governments will attempt to restrict and regulate the Internet. Yet, efforts to do so will fail because the Internet has evolved into a worldwide network beyond the control of any one government.
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