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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
US citizens back web controls
Couple embrace in front of US flag
Grief after 11 September has spilled out online
More than two-thirds of Americans are not concerned that the US Government censored websites as part of the war on terrorism.

A survey by US-based think-tank Pew Internet has found that 69% of American citizens believe the government should do everything it can to keep information out of the hands of terrorists, even if that means the public will be deprived of that information.

After last year's attacks, US Government and some private websites removed information about chemical plants and the chemicals produced there, military bases and other sensitive data from the net.

It has led to a debate in the US over the level of information that can be available to the public following the terrorist attacks.

Most Americans seem to back some level of ban. Even a majority of those who previously advocated accessibility to government information, think it should be removed from the net if it helps the war on terrorism.

Profound effect


Many Americans are wary of anti-terror policies that would result in government monitoring of private citizens' online activities

Lee Rainie, Pew Internet
However there does appear to be a mismatch between the tolerance Americans have for official censorship and their attitude to e-mail snooping.

Just under half of Americans believe the government does not have the right to monitor people's e-mail and internet communications.

"They are willing to give up their access to important information on the web if officials argue the public's right to know is in conflict with the goal of combating terrorists," said Director of the Pew Internet Project Lee Rainie.

"At the same time, many Americans are wary of anti-terror policies that would result in government monitoring of private citizens' online activities," he said.

The survey showed that the trauma of the 11 September attacks had had a profound effect on what people do online and the kind of information available.

Post-September 11, Americans are using e-mail more often, visiting more online news sites and government websites and seeking out health information more often.

DIY journalism

The internet has become the modern equivalent of the Roman forum with people using it to discuss feelings and attitudes to the attacks, according to the Pew study.

"Do-it-yourself journalism by amateurs flourished, religious sites tended to their members and the virtual public square was teeming with commentary, expressions of grief and patriotism," said Steven Sneider, co-director of WebArchivist.org.

The Pew survey found that US citizens have reassessed their lives following the attacks and 19 million of them, 17%, have rekindled relationships with family members, friends and former colleagues after 11 September.

See also:

06 Sep 02 | Technology
17 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
05 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
08 Oct 01 | Americas
26 Oct 01 | Americas
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