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SPEARHEADING SOCIAL REFORM


Protecting Freedom of Information in the Electronic Age

With the advent of modern computer networks, “freedom of information” has taken on new meaning. Today’s worldwide information superhighway, the Internet, offers a wealth of readily accessible knowledge.

As do all historic champions of free expression, the Church of Scientology applauds and embraces the Internet as a promising new frontier, where knowledge can conquer prejudice, truth can overcome fear, and the free exchange of public debate can liberate mankind from lies and oppression. L. Ron Hubbard succinctly captured the essence of the Internet’s potential when he wrote that “Ideas and not battles mark the forward progress of mankind.”

But as is true of any new frontier, the acts of a lawless few can jeopardize the promise of progress and compromise the rights and freedoms of the responsible, law-abiding majority. Thus the news media – print, broadcast and electronic – all report the sad and shocking truth on a daily basis: the Internet can be abused as easily as it can be employed for good. Finding “free speech” a convenient cloak to disguise their aberrational conduct, denizens of the darker corners of cyberspace espouse perversion, exploit children through molestation and pornography, commit fraud and other forms of commercial crime, invade zones of personal privacy, and infringe the intellectual property rights of artists, musicians and thinkers. In the corrupt corridors of cyberspace, unscrupulous people literally threaten the rights and the well-being of people everywhere.

As always, the Church of Scientology has stepped into the breach in the defense of the free exchange of ideas and in the name of respect for the rights of everyone. While legislatures debate ultimately arbitrary or even destructive means of regulation, the Church of Scientology has emerged in the forefront of efforts to guarantee free speech on the Internet through protecting intellectual property rights. Just as the US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, it also states that “The Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries . . .” Those parallel rights have coexisted for more than two hundred years, and the advent of the Internet can neither diminish nor revoke either of them.

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