17-290 / 19-211 Computers and Society

Homework 2 - due February 6, 2006

Reading assignment:
Quinn 3
PICS: Internet access controls without censorship,
Online and Unidentifiable?,
See No Evil (Executive Summary),
Fahrenheit 451.2: Is Cyberspace Burning?,
Optional: National borders emerge in cyberspace,
Optional: Debating (what once was) the CDA

1. Use one or more of the search engines discussed in class to find four articles or papers that discuss spam or phishing counter measures. Include at least one paper presented at a conference in the past two years and at least one paper published in a peer-reviewed technical journal. Create a bibliography using the Chicago/Turabian reference list (sometimes called "works cited") format or the ACM reference format.

2. Pick one spam or phishing counter measure that you read about that you think is promising. Briefly describe how it works. Describe both the benefits and the down sides of this approach. Properly cite at least one relevant source.

3. What do you believe is the proper role of Internet content filters? Write a short essay (roughly 500 words) in which you argue your position and support it with appropriate citations to the assigned readings or other materials (and include a properly-formatted Chicago/Turabian or ACM reference list). Make sure you give a clear statement of the position you are arguing at the beginning of your essay. Your essay should address some (but not necessarily all) of the following questions: Are there any situations in which you believe filters should be mandated by law? Even if not mandated by law, should they be permitted to be used on public computers, and if so, who should decide what filters to use? Should parents use filters in their own homes to protect their children? Should employers use filters to block access to material inappropriate in a workplace? Should ISPs or search engines use filters? Should web sites be required to rate themselves to facilitate easier filtering? Are filters effective?

Question 3 will be the topic of our class debate #2 on February 6. Students will be assigned to argue for and against the statement: high schools should use Internet content filters to block inappropriate content (those arguing for this statement should explain whether such filters should be mandatory and who should decide what filters to use). Note, this is not a debate over what the law currently says but rather what you think the law should say or whether there should even be a law. Debate assignments will be made in class on January 30. We will pick debaters to play the following roles: parent who supports filters, parent who opposes filters.