The First Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly precludes the government from censoring most forms of speech and guarantees a press free of government interference:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
No mention is made, however, in any of the founding documents about non-governmental censorship. We have depended heavily upon the remarkable insight of our Founding Fathers. Yet how could they be forewarned of overriding corporate interests when such entities simply were not deployed to the spectacular degree seen in this century?
Censorship issues, like personal privacy issues, are impacted by both government and the private sector. The 1990s saw the ascension of the private sector’s censorship and privacy invasion activities eclipse those of the government. Unfortunately, the word censorship has become so overused and in such a wide range of contexts, it is fast becoming meaningless. We no longer agree, as a culture, what constitutes censorship.
An era bombarded with endless streams of information, parallels endless attempts to ban it.