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Introduction Concerns over the availability of sexually explicit material in what has come to be termed cyberspace have recently blossomed into a national debate on the subject Attempts to restrict access to the sexual side of the Internet have expand ed to involve universities access providers and the Federal Government which enacted substantial new restrictions upon Internet content as part of the 1995 Telecommunications Reform Bill These restrictions which were ruled unconstitutional recently by the Supreme Court were enacted in part due to research suggesting that the Internet is a veritable smorgasbord of pornographic entertainment available to anyone regardless of age with a computer and Internet access While there are serious questio ns regarding the research project which provided much of the press and governmental officials information on the subject the issue is important enough to warrant more research before the social science community can claim to be informed This pro ject assesses the content of images contained in one of the more commonly accessible Usenet newsgroups altsexstories The Internet and Usenet Newsgroups The Internet as it presently exists is a interconnected network of computers owned by government business and education Originally a small number of government and education computers interconnected for the purpose of exchanging defense-related d ata the Internet has exploded in size in the last five years Some estimates today place the number of primary or server Internet computers approaching ten million Personal computers linked to these servers account for at least ten times that number The data that are transmitted over the Internet consist mainly of electronic mail messages and file transfers where data is transmitted from one computer to another For example banks can transmit information between branches end users can download s oftware for their own computers and business transactions may be performed Another major aspect of the Internet is the dissemination of information to a large audience through an aspect of the Internet called Usenet
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