Source: This article was published lawjournalnewsletters.com By JONATHAN BICK - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Internet professional responsibility and client privacy difficulties are intimately associated with the services offered by lawyers. Electronic attorney services result in data gathering, information exchange, document transfers, enhanced communications and novel opportunities for marketing and promotion. These services, in turn, provide an array of complicated ethical issues that can present pitfalls for the uninitiated and unwary.

Since the Internet interpenetrates every aspect of the law, Internet activity can result in a grievance filed against attorneys for professional and ethical misconduct when such use results in communication failure, conflicts of interest, misrepresentation, fraud, dishonesty, missed deadlines or court appearances, advertising violations, improper billing, and funds misuse. While specific Internet privacy violation rules and regulations are rarely applied to attorney transactions, attorneys are regularly implicated in unfair and deceptive trade practices and industry-specific violations which are often interspersed with privacy violation facts.

Attorneys have a professional-responsibility duty to use the Internet, and it is that professional responsibility which results in difficulties for doing so. More specifically, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.1 (competence) paragraph 8 (maintenance) has been interpreted to require the use of the Internet, and Rules 7.1 – 7.5 (communications, advertising and soliciting) specifically charge attorneys with malfeasance for using the Internet improperly.

Internet professional conduct standards and model rules/commentary cross the full range of Internet-related concerns, including expert self-identification and specialty description; the correct way to structure Internet personal profiles; social media privacy settings; the importance and use of disclaimers; what constitutes “communication”; and the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, ethics rules address “liking,” “friending” and “tagging” practices.

The application of codes of professional conduct is faced with a two-fold difficulty. First, what is the nature of the attorney Internet activity? Is the activity of publishing, broadcasting or telecommunications? Determining the nature of the attorney Internet activity is important because different privacy and ethic cannons apply. Additionally, the determination of the nature of the attorney activity allows practitioners to apply analogies. For example, guidance with respect to attorney Internet-advertising professional conduct is likely to be judged by the same standards as traditional attorney advertising.

The second difficulty is the location where activity occurs. Jurisdictions have enacted contrary laws and professional-responsibility duties.

Options for protecting client privacy and promoting professional responsibility include technical, business and legal options. Consider the following specific legal transactions.

A lawyer seeking to use the Internet to attract new clients across multiple jurisdictions frequently is confronted with inconsistent rules and regulations. A number of jurisdictions have taken the position that Internet communications are a form of advertising and thus subject to a particular state bar’s ethical restrictions. Such restrictions related to Internet content include banning testimonials; prohibitions on self-laudatory statements; disclaimers; and labeling the materials presented as advertising.

Other restrictions relate to content processing, such as requiring that advance copies of any advertising materials be submitted for review by designated bar entities prior to dissemination, and requiring that attorneys keep a copy of their website and any changes made to it for three years, along with a record of when and where the website was used. Still, other restrictions relate to distribution techniques, such as unsolicited commercial emailing (spam). Spam is considered by some states as overreaching, on the same grounds as ethical bans on in-person or telephone solicitation.

To overcome these difficulties and thus permit the responsible use of the Internet for attorney marketing, both technical and business solutions are available. The technical solution employs selectively serving advertisements to appropriate locations. For this solution, the software can be deployed to detect the origin of an Internet transaction. This software will serve up advertising based on the location of the recipient. Thus, attorneys can ameliorate or eliminate the difficulties associated with advertising and marketing restrictions without applying the most restrictive rule to every state.

Alternatively, a business solution may be used. Such a business solution would apply the most restrictive rules of each state to every Internet advertising and marketing communication.

Another legal difficulty associated with attorney Internet advertising and marketing is the unauthorized practice of law. All states have statutes or ethical rules that make it unlawful for persons to hold themselves out as attorneys or to provide legal services unless admitted and licensed to practice in that jurisdiction.

There are no reported decisions on this issue, but a handful of ethics opinions and court decisions take a restrictive view of unauthorized practice issues. For example, the court in Birbower, Montalbano, Condon & Frank v. Superior, 949 P.2d 1(1998), relied on unauthorized practice concerns in refusing to honor a fee agreement between a New York law firm and a California client for legal services provided in California, because the New York firm did not retain local counsel and its attorneys were not admitted in California.

The software can detect the origin of an Internet transaction. Thus, attorneys can ameliorate or eliminate the unauthorized practice of law by identifying the location of a potential client and only interacting with potential clients located in the state where an attorney is authorized to practice. Alternatively, an attorney could use a net nanny to prevent communications with potential clients located in the state where the attorney is not authorized to practice.

Preserving clients’ confidences is of critical importance in all aspects of an attorney’s practice. An attorney using the Internet to communicate with a client must consider the confidentiality of such communications. Using the Internet to communicate with clients on confidential matters raises a number of issues, including whether such communications: might violate the obligation to maintain client confidentiality; result in a waiver of the attorney-client privilege if intercepted by an unauthorized party; and create possible malpractice liability.

Both legal and technological solutions are available. First, memorializing informed consent is a legal solution.

Some recent ethics opinions suggest a need for caution. Iowa Opinion 96-1 states that before sending client-sensitive information over the Internet, a lawyer should either encrypt the information or obtain the client’s written acknowledgment of the risks of using this method of communication.

Substantial compliance may be a technological solution because the changing nature of Internet difficulties makes complete compliance unfeasible. Some attorneys have adopted internal measures to protect electronic client communications, including asking clients to consider alternative technologies; encrypting messages to increase security; obtaining written client authorization to use the Internet and acknowledgment of the possible risks in so doing, and exercising independent judgment about communications too sensitive to share using the Internet. While the use of such technology is not foolproof, if said use is demonstrably more significant than what is customary, judges and juries have found such efforts to be sufficient.

Finally, both legal and business options are available to surmount Internet-related client conflicts. Because of the business development potential of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and other electronic opportunities for client contact, many attorneys see the Internet as a powerful client development tool. What some fail to recognize, however, is that the very opportunity to attract new clients may be a source of unintended conflicts of interest.

Take, for example, one of the most common uses of Internet chat rooms: a request seeking advice from attorneys experienced in dealing with a particular legal problem. Attorneys have been known to prepare elaborate and highly detailed responses to such inquiries. Depending on the level and nature of the information received and the advice provided, however, attorneys may be dismayed to discover that they have inadvertently created an attorney-client relationship with the requesting party. At a minimum, given the anonymous nature of many such inquiries, they may face the embarrassment and potential client relations problem of taking a public position or providing advice contrary to the interests of an existing firm client.

An acceptable legal solution is the application of disclaimers and consents. Some operators of electronic bulletin boards and online discussion groups have tried to minimize the client conflict potential by providing disclaimers or including as part of the subscription agreement the acknowledgment that any participation in online discussions does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Alternatively, the use of limited answers would be a business solution. The Arizona State Bar recently cautioned that lawyers probably should not answer specific questions posed in chat rooms or newsgroups because of the inability to screen for potential conflicts with existing clients and the danger of disclosing confidential information.

Because the consequences of finding an attorney-client relationship are severe and may result in disqualification from representing other clients, the prudent lawyer should carefully scrutinize the nature and extent of any participation in online chat rooms and similar venues.

Categorized in Internet Ethics

 Source: This article was published cyberblogindia.in By Abhay Singh Sengar - Contributed by Member: Bridget Miller

When we talk about “ethics” we refer to attitude, values, beliefs, and habits possessed by a person or a group. The sense of the word is directly related to the term “morality” as Ethics is the study of morality.

Meaning of Computer Ethics

It is not a very old term. Until 1960s there was nothing known as “computer ethics”. Walter Manerin the mid-70s introduced the term ‘computer ethics’ which means “ethical problems aggravated, transformed or created by computer technology”. Wiener and Moor have also discussed about this in their book, “computer ethics identifies and analyses the impacts of information technology upon human values like health, wealth, opportunity, freedom, democracy, knowledge, privacy, security, self-fulfillment, and so on…“. Since the 1990s the importance of this term has increased. In simple words, Computer ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the usage of Computers.

Issues

As we all know, that Computer is an effective technology and it raises ethical issues like Personal Intrusion, Deception, Breach of Privacy, Cyber-bullying, Cyber-stalking, Defamation, Evasion Technology or social responsibility and Intellectual Property Rights i.e. copyrighted electronic content. In a Computer or Internet (Cyberspace) domain of Information security, understanding and maintaining ethics is very important at this stage. A typical problem related to ethics arises mainly because of the absence of policies or rules about how computer technology should be used. It is high time, there is some strict legislation regarding the same in the country.

Internet Ethics for everyone

  1. Acceptance- We should accept that the Internet is a primary component of our society only and not something apart from it.
  2. We should understand the sensitivity of Information before writing it on the Internet as there are no national or cultural barriers.
  3. As we do not provide our personal information to any stranger, similarly it should not be uploaded to a public network because it might be misused.
  4. Avoid the use of rude or bad language while using e-mail, chatting, blogging, social networking. Respect the person on another side.
  5. No copyrighted material should be copied, downloaded or shared with others.

Computer Ethics

Following are the 10 commandments as created by The Computer Ethics Institute which is a nonprofit working in this area:

  1. Thou shall not use a computer to harm other people;
  2. Thou shall not interfere with other people’s computer work;
  3. Thou shall not snoop around in other people’s computer files;
  4. Thou shall not use a computer to steal;
  5. Thou shall not use a computer to bear false witness;
  6. Thou shall not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid;
  7. Thou shall not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation;
  8. Thou shall not appropriate other people’s intellectual output;
  9. Thou shall think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing;
  10. Thou shall always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

Computer and Internet both are time-efficient tools for everyone. It can enlarge the possibilities for your curriculum growth. There is a lot of information on the Internet that can help you in learning. Explore that Information instead of exploiting others.

Computer Internet Ethics

Categorized in Internet Ethics

When reading Wikipedia’s 1992 Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics you can easily substitute “Internet” for “computer” and it’s amazing what you see…., for example the 1stCommandment “You shall not use the Internet to harm other people.”  Here are all Ten Commandments of Internet Ethics (with my minor edits):

  1. You shall not use the Internet to harm other people.
  2. You shall not interfere with other people’s Internet work.
  3. You shall not snoop around in other people’s Internet files.
  4. You shall not use the Internet to steal.
  5. You shall not use the Internet to bear false witness.
  6. You shall not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid (without permission).
  7. You shall not use other people’s Internet resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  8. You shall not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
  9. You shall think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
  10. You shall always use the Internet in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

For those of us who used the Internet 1992 it’s great to see that the Ethics of the Internet in 1992 (from the Computer Ethics Institute) applies in 2016!

Source: This article was published vogelitlawblog.com By Peter S. Vogel

Categorized in Internet Ethics

The Copyright Industry, especially the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) have suppressed every form of innovation, and technology to protect their questionable rights.  In the 80s, they sued to stop video recorders, but were thankfully held back by the Supreme Court in the famous Betamax case.  The Media Industry forced manufacturers of blank cassettes, tapes, and CDs to pay a royalty to reimburse the industry because the blank recording media might be used to infringe copyright. That is right; your preacher's sermon tapes actually were forced to subsidize Hollywood.

In 1998, the RIAA sued to stop the first portable Mp3 player, Diamond Rio, from being sold.

In 1999, they took down Napster, the breakthrough file sharing program upstart.  Then they cut a swath of destruction going after a plethora of file sharing services, with such vicious tactics as suing children who downloaded songs for unconscionable amounts of money.

Upping the outrage, they tried to gut the First Amendment with the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which imperiled the whole Internet by making search engines and hosting companies liable for piracy that the technology companies had nothing to do with. Only when technology giants apprised Congress that technology produced more jobs than the media, did Congress back off. Temporarily!

In 2014, the RIAA considered suing Google for even listing sites that people could use to rip media.

The RIAA previously found that for 98% of the music related searches they performed, “pirate sites” were listed on the first page of the search results. According to the music group, this is an indication that more proactive measures are required, in the interests of both Google and the labels.“So the enforcement system we operate under requires us to send a staggering number of piracy notices – 100 million and counting to Google alone—and an equally staggering number of takedowns Google must process. And yet pirated copies continue to proliferate and users are bombarded with search results to illegal sources over legal sources for the music they love,” Sherman notes. -Torrent Freak

Why is it in Google's interest to doctor their search engine results for make the copyright industry happy?  And is the word, "bombarded" appropriate for providing the public with search results that the public wants? This is industry propaganda. Now, the RIAA is going full speed after You Tube ripping.

So what is YouTube ripping?

A few years ago, soon after file sharing sites were sued into oblivion, technology surfaced which made it possible to rip the music directly off of YouTube videos. No longer did one have to download buggy software to download files - and which ironically opened one's computer to viruses.  One could merely go to YouTube, copy the URL and then go to a ripping site to split the mp3 music off of the video, and then download it. This 2010 video - made at just about the same time that LimeWire file sharing service was finally taken down - gives some instruction. (Click Here).  More recent instruction videos are easily searched out.  Newer sites are incredibly ease to use.

News of the YouTube ripping technique spread slowly at first, except among technophiles; but soon enough, the Media Industry's victory over file sharing software/services would prove pyrrhic. YouTube ripping had the advantage of being incredibly easy and all but untraceable. No need to worry about RIAA lawsuits.

So, now, the RIAA is back again, crying foul, going nuts, suing YouTube ripping sites.

This week a huge coalition of recording labels headed by the RIAA, IFPI, and BPI, sued YouTube ripping service YouTube-MP3. Today we take a closer look at the lawsuit which was filed against a German company, owned and operated by a German citizen, which could seek damages running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. - Torrent Freak

This time, the RIAA has lost all reason. They are once again playing Whack-a-Mole - which is what they have been doing all along.  If history teaches anything, innovators, by their very nature, will always outpace Luddites. YouTube ripping sites have proliferated across the web - with this link at this time, showing 95 million results for a search for YouTube rippers.

Nothing will stop the RIAA, the MPAA, and the Media Industry, though.

Hollywood media moguls are intent on preserving a dying business model. Worse yet, they expect technology companies to provide the technical expertise to protect their quasi-monopoly.  It is much cheaper to have Google, Microsoft, and Facebook pay programmers to fight piracy than the RIAA actually hiring programmers to come up with the technology themselves.

Then again, their incompetence in this area has been humiliating.

In an attempt to curb music piracy, major labels such as Sony started selling music CDs that have built-in “copy-proof” technology. The technology was meant to stop people from copying music from these discs onto recordable CDs or hard drives. There's a fatal flaw in this technology, however, which allows you to bypass the copy protection with a simple marker pen, and a recent upsurge in Internet newsgroup talk about this flaw has brought it to light again.  -- Geek (2002)

Open up a cafe or a bar with some live music and you could be forced to pay three royalty collection agencies: ASCAPBMI, and SESAC.

Antonowisch explained that once ASCAP got wind that they had live music (even though they were only holding about 12 concerts a year), ASCAP began their crusade. “They called us everyday. They sent two letters a day. They threatened us with a lawsuit because they said we had violated copyright,” Antonowisch lamented. As not to get sued, the coffee shop owners conceded. They agreed to pay ASCAP the $600 yearly license for the right to have live music.But then they found out that there was another PRO that required the same license. BMI. (snip)Then, as luck would have it, SESAC got in touch. And they demanded just over $700.)snip)Bauhaus [the cafe] actually explained to ASCAP that all of their musicians play original music and ASCAP shot back “how do you know? Do you know every song ever written?” So the PROs won’t believe a venue if they claim that they only host original music. And all it takes is one musician to play one cover song for a PRO to sue for serious damages.

Consider them three mafias.  A protection racket.  Once you pay one, the others want their cut. Add in the MPAA, the RIAA, and it is legalized corruption. Congress indulges them because the media can make or break a politician's career; and so Congress passes more and more noxious copyright laws, to protect their monopoly.

As part of draining the swamp, this new administration has nothing to lose offending the media.  Trump should reform our copyright laws. Copyrights should be limited to no more time than patents: 20 years.  Getting a technical patent can require decades of investments and education.  Why should a song written over a short period of time get protected for 70 years plus the life of the author?

These media moguls are mafiosi in legal garb.  It is high time they were told that it is not the duty of Google, YouTube, Microsoft, or Apple to protect their recordings.  If the media companies cannot protect their own product, then so be it.

Let the industry die off. It is a dinosaur in an age of mammals. It is a relic that has lots its usefulness like royalty, and aristocracy. We won't have to suffer industry stars telling us how enlightened they are, and how retro-stupid the public is.

For decades they have monopolized American and Western culture - often destroying our core values - and charged us for the privilege of their artistic rampage.  We were stupid to put up with it. Now they are suing us. Let them die out. Let music and artistic creation return to the individual, as it was when the republic was born. Let the copyright attorneys find something useful to do.

Author: Mike Konrad
Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/01/copyright_vultures_are_at_it_again.html

Categorized in Internet Ethics

The Internet Society has released the findings of its 2016 Global Internet Report in which 40% of users admit they would not do business with a company which had suffered a data breach.

Highlighting the extent of the data breach problem, the report makes key recommendations for building user trust in the online environment, stating that more needs to be done to protect online personal information.

With a reported 1,673 breaches and 707 million exposed records occurring in 2015, the Internet Society is urging organisations to change their stance and follow five recommendations to reduce the number and impact of data breaches globally:

1. Put users - who are the ultimate victims of data breaches - at the centre of solutions. When assessing the costs of data breaches, include the costs to both users and organisations. 

2. Increase transparency about the risk, incidence and impact of data breaches globally. Sharing information responsibly helps organisations improve data security, helps policymakers improve policies and regulators pursue attackers, and helps the data security industry create better solutions.

3. Data security must be a priority – organisations should be held to best practice standards when it comes to data security.

4. Increase accountability – organisations should be held accountable for their breaches. Rules regarding liability and remediation must be established up front.

5. Increase incentives to invest in security – create a market for trusted, independent assessment of data security measures so that organisations can credibly signal their level of data security. Security signals enable organisations to indicate that that they are less vulnerable than competitors.

The report also draws parallels with threats posed by the Internet of Things (IoT). Forecasted to grow to tens of billions of devices by 2020, interconnected components and sensors that can track locations, health and other daily habits are opening gateways into user’s personal lives, leaving data exposed.

“We are at a turning point in the level of trust users are placing in the Internet,” said Internet Society’s Olaf Kolkman, Chief Internet Technology Officer. “With more of the devices in our pockets now having Internet connectivity, the opportunities for us to lose personal data is extremely high.

“Direct attacks on websites such as Ashley Madison and the recent IoT-based attack on Internet performance management company, Dyn, that rendered some of the world’s most famous websites including Reddit, Twitter and The New York Times temporarily inaccessible, are incredibly damaging both in terms of profits and reputation, but also to the levels of trust users have in the Internet.”

Other report highlights include:

  • The average cost of a data breach is now $4 million, up 29 percent since 2013
  • The average cost per lost record is $158, up 15 percent since 2013
  • Within business, the retail sector represents 13 percent of all breaches and six percent of all records stolen, while financial institutions represent 15 percent of breaches, but just 0.1 percent of records stolen, indicating these businesses might have greater resilience built in to protect their users

Source  :  https://www.finextra.com/pressarticle/67186/internet-trust-at-all-time-low-not-enough-data-protection

Categorized in Internet Ethics

The proposals aren’t just bad for Google, but for everyone.

There’s a lot to like about the copyright proposals that the European Commission unveiled Wednesday—easier access to video across the EU’s internal borders, more copyright exceptions for researchers, and more access to books for blind people.

However, two elements in particular could be disastrous if carried out as proposed. One would make it more difficult for small news publications to be able to challenge legacy media giants, and the other would threaten the existence of user-generated content platforms.

In a way, it’s good that digital commissioner Günther Oettinger has finally laid his cards on the table. But the battles that begin now will be epic.

The first contentious proposal is the introduction of so-called neighboring rights for press publishers, also known as ancillary copyright.

The move sounds pretty obscure, but isn’t. Much as it is possible for someone to get rewarded for performing a work—as opposed to writing it, which involves copyright—publishers would get to command fees for the stuff their writers write, based their own (new) rights rather than the copyright held by the journalist.

In effect, this would allow publishers to try wrangling fees out of others for any “use of the work”—a dangerously vague term in this context. What’s more, they’d get to do so for a whopping 20 years after publication.

This idea has been tried before in Germany and in Spain, where large publishers used new laws to try getting Google GOOG 0.11%  News to pay for using snippets of their text and thumbnails of their images.

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Both times the attempts failed. In Germany, Google stopped reproducing snippets of text in Google News, and the publishers granted the firm a free (albeit temporary) licence once they saw how their traffic suffered. In Spain, the publishers had no such leeway and Google News ended up pulling out of the country, hammering the industry’s income in the process.

The Commission’s new proposals aren’t as suicidally rigid as what went down in Spain, but they’re also much vaguer than the German version. As currently phrased, they could allow press publishers to try charging for the reproduction of headlines, or even the mere indexing of their articles.

It’s hard to know whether the large press publishers who lobbied so hard for these measures really think Google will ultimately pay up, or whether their real goal is what happens when it refuses.

Because Google surely won’t pay for indexing their content or reproducing snippets of their text. It can’t—that would be the beginning of the end of its entire search engine business model, which can no longer scale if its links come with a cost.

If this law goes through and demands for licensing fees are rigidly enforced, Google will almost certainly pull Google News out of the entire EU.

Remember that it doesn’t run ads on Google News. It does run ads on its regular search engine, of course, and news results make that a fuller product, but it would have no reason to maintain Google News in Europe if it became a serious financial liability.

And if Google News exits the EU, the biggest victims will be the smaller publications, as happened in Spain. They rely on Google News and other aggregators because that’s how people find their articles, visit their sites, and view and click on their ads.

More established media outlets have much more brand recognition and traditional marketing clout, particularly in linguistically semi-closed markets such as Germany and France. They have everything to gain from reversing the Internet’s opening up of the media market; their rivals, and the reading public, have everything to lose. No wonder they’ve been pushing Oettinger to bring in ancillary copyright.

The other major flaw in the new proposals would also be bad news for smaller players, and for the rights of the public.

Under the e-Commerce Directive of 2000, the operators of user-generated content platforms—YouTube and SoundCloud and the like—are not liable for the content their users upload, as long as they take down the illegal stuff once someone flags it. That directive also explicitly says there can be no laws forcing platforms to generally monitor the content they manage.

Despite having consistently denied it is going to change these rules, the Commission is now proposing exactly that. In its new copyright directive proposal, it wants to force all user-generated content platforms to use “effective content recognition technologies,” which sounds an awful lot like generally monitoring content.

Of course, YouTube already has its Content ID technology for identifying and purging illegally uploaded films and so on, but what about new platforms? It cost Google more than $60 million to develop and implement Content ID, and it has to constantly tweak it to counteract those users who figure out ways to get around it.

You know how people upload movies to YouTube that are re-filmed from a funny angle, or that cut off the edges of the screen? That’s an attempt to circumvent Content ID and fighting it costs money, as does handling disputes when the system incorrectly flags videos as infringing copyright.

Quite apart from the fact that this would clash with another piece of EU legislation that’s trying to protect freedom of expression, this would be a huge burden for anyone trying to set up a new user-generated content platform, making it a problem for both innovation and competition.

Yes, creators deserve fair remuneration for the works they create. Yes, the Internet has turned their livelihoods upside-down by forcing them to compete with millions of rivals in an open market. Yes, lack of funding threatens media diversity. Yes, change is hard.

But these new proposals wouldn’t help creators make the best of the new landscape. All they would do is entrench the positions of the big players—the legacy media outlets in the case of ancillary copyright, and funnily enough Google in the case of the user-generated content proposals.

The European Parliament and the EU’s member states have a lot to fix over the next year or two, as this proposal wends its way through the legislative process.

 

Source : http://fortune.com/2016/09/14/europe-copyright-google/

Categorized in Internet Ethics

China’s powerful internet censorship body has further tightened its grip on online news reports by warning all news or social network websites against publishing news without proper verification, state media reports.

The instruction, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, came only a few days after Xu Lin, formerly the deputy head of the organisation, replaced his boss, Lu Wei, as the top gatekeeper of Chinese internet affairs.

Xu is regarded as one of President Xi Jinping’s key supporters.
The cyberspace watchdog said online media could not report any news taken from social media websites without approval.

“All websites should bear the key responsibility to further streamline the course of reporting and publishing of news, and set up a sound internal monitoring mechanism among all mobile news portals [and the social media chat websites] Weibo or WeChat,” Xinhua reported the directive as saying.

“It is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts,” it said.

The central internet censorship organ ordered its regional subordinates to fully fulfil their duties on the basis of content management, strengthen supervision and inspection, and severely punish fake news or news that deviated from the facts.

“No website is allowed to report public news without specifying the sources, or report news that quotes untrue origins,” the circular warned, adding that the fabrication of news or distortion of the facts were also strictly prohibited.

The report said that a number of popular news portals, including Sina.com, Ifeng.com, Caijing.com.cn, Qq.com and 163.com, had been punished and given warnings for fabricating news before distributing it, the report said, without giving any details about the penalty.

The Chinese government already exercises widespread controls over the internet and has sought to codify that policy in law.

Officials say internet restrictions, including the blocking of popular foreign websites such as Google and Facebook, are needed to ensure security in the face of rising threats, such as terrorism, and also to stop the spread of damaging rumours.

Source:  http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1985118/all-news-stories-must-be-verified-chinas-internet

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Is the Net inherently unethical, or does it simply make it too easy for users to act immorally? Either way, tech too often brings out the worst in even the best of us.

Some people see the Internet as a mirror held up to our culture. If it is, the mirror shows us in an unflattering light.

From newsroom staffers caught off guard on camera in a private moment gone viral on YouTube to dorm room trysts streamed live online, people have no shame about the despicable content they post on the Web. Respect and courtesy are quaint, outdated notions to these Internet citizens.

The people charged with protecting us from such abhorrent behavior not only fail to prevent it, they tacitly or explicitly encourage these breaches in morality because it means more page views, more customers, and more money. For example, YouTube's Community Guidelines state that the company works 24 hours a day, seven days a week to find and remove content that violates its ethical standards. Yet the same poor-taste, non-age-restricted videos appear there week after week, month after month.

Unfortunately, it isn't just misguided college kids or mean-spirited news junkies who propagate these crimes against fairness and human kindness. At a company I worked for, I discovered a senior executive had plagiarized about a dozen different Web sites in a report he had written for a client. He had copied the material directly from the sites and pasted it into his document, changing only a word or two here and there. (In a future post, I'll describe how I inadvertently discovered the plagiarism.)

Nowhere in the document had he mentioned that the material was taken from these sites. When I brought this serious breach of ethics to his attention, he replied, "Don't worry about it."

I told him I was worried about it and insisted he cite in the report the origin of the material. Ultimately, links to the pages from which he "borrowed" were inserted into the document, and a paragraph was added to state that much of the text was taken directly from the sites--though the material appeared without quote marks and without the explicit permission of the sites themselves.

The author of the report is a noted and well-respected scientist. I can only assume that the temptation of stealing the material was too great for him to pass up. If such an esteemed, well-regarded individual succumbed to the Internet's siren song of immorality without a second thought, have we lost the battle to preserve ethics in the online world once and for all?

Internet codes of ethics through the years

In January 1989, the Internet Advisory Board issued a memo titled Ethics and the Internet (RFC 1087) that focused primarily on the need to protect the U.S. government's "fiduciary responsibility to the public to allocate government resources wisely." These guidelines were intended to protect the government's investment in the Internet infrastructure from disruption or lack of access resulting from "irresponsible use."

The five activities proscribed by this code were seeking unauthorized access, disrupting the intended use of the Internet, wasting resources, corrupting data, and compromising the privacy of users. The Computer Ethics Institute has since devised the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics (PDF), which take a much broader approach.

10 13 10 Ethics1

Along with admonitions not to steal computer resources, use computers to steal or to "bear false witness," or use proprietary software without paying for it is a commandment stating that "thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output." I was delighted to see the last of the 10 commandments:

"Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans."If this last commandment were actually enforced, the YouTube video archive would be considerably smaller.

Pleas for netiquette go unheeded

At the dawning of the Web in 1994, Virginia Shea released the Core Rules of Netiquette, which later became a book and Web site. As Shea points out, the rules describe good online manners and don't address the legal issues entailed in appropriate use of the Internet. However, she states in rule No. 2, "Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life," that any illegal activity is bad Netiquette.

If you're charged with educating students about Internet ethics, the University of Illinois offers Scenarios for Teaching Internet Ethics, which cover such topics as employers reading their employees' e-mail without permission, social-network users posting negative comments about people, and even writers copying material from Web sites and pasting it into their own reports without attribution.

Chris MacDonald maintains the EthicsWeb.ca site, which includes a list of Applied Ethics Resources for businesses, media, health care providers, researchers, government agencies, and computer professionals. Unfortunately, many of the links on the site are no longer active. I hope this doesn't indicate a loss of interest on the part of those sites' developers. It certainly can't be for lack of a need for such resources.

The fight for an ethical Internet may be a lost cause, if only because people's moral compasses appear to be irreparably damaged. Several years ago, a person I worked for instructed me and my co-workers to lie to writers about assignment due dates in an attempt to receive the assignments in a more timely manner.

Another former boss put my name on an e-mail he wrote to the columnists who worked for us, because he knew the columnists would be more willing to accept what the message proposed if they thought it came from me rather than from him. In both cases, I refused to comply.

I'm starting to think there are no ethics in business--my own experience does not refute this assertion. It could be that the lack of negative consequences for immoral, unethical behavior is perceived as tacit approval of such activities. In this regard, I believe the bard may have had it wrong: conscience definitely does not make cowards of us all.

Source:  http://www.cnet.com/news/the-internet-and-the-death-of-ethics/

Categorized in Internet Ethics

Definition of Computer Ethics

Ethics are a set of moral principles that govern an individual or a group on what is acceptable behaviour while using a computer. Computer ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the usage of computers. One of the common issues of computer ethics is violation of copyright issues.

Duplicating copyrighted content without the author’s approval, accessing personal information of others are some of the examples that violate ethical principles.

Internet Ethics for everyone

Internet ethics means acceptable behaviour for using internet. We should be honest, respect the rights and property of others on the internet.

Acceptance

One has to accept that Internet is not a value free-zone .It means World Wide Web is a place where values are considered in the broadest sense so we must take care while shaping content and services and we should recognize that internet is not apart from universal society but it is a primary component of it.

Sensitivity to National and Local cultures

It belongs to all and there is no barrier of national and local cultures. It cannot be subject to one set of values like the local TV channel or the local newspaper we have to accommodate multiplicity of usage.

While using e-Mail and chatting

Internet must be used for communication with family and friends. Avoid chatting with strangers and forwarding e-mails from unknown people /strangers.We must be aware of risks involved in chatting and forwarding e-mails to strangers.

Pretending to be someone else

We must not use internet to fool others by pretending to be someone else. Hiding our own identity to fool others in the Internet world is a crime and may also be a risk to others.

Avoid Bad language

We must not use rude or bad language while using e-Mail, chatting, blogging and social networking, We need to respect their views and should not criticize anyone on the internet.

Hide personal information

We should not give personal details like home address, phone numbers, interests, passwords. No photographs should be sent to strangers because it might be misused and shared with others without their knowledge.

While Downloading

Internet is used to listen and learn about music,It is also used to watch videos and play games we must not use it to download them or share copyrighted material. We must be aware of the importance of copyrights and issues of copyright.

Access to Internet

The internet is a time-efficient tool for everyone that enlarges the possibilities for curriculum growth. Learning depends on the ability to find relevant and reliable information quickly and easily, and to select, understand and assess that information. Searching for information on the internet can help to develop these skills.

Classroom exercises and take-home assessment tasks, where students are required to compare website content, are ideal for alerting students to the requirements of writing for different audiences, the purpose of particular content, identifying and judging accuracy and reliability. Since many sites adopt particular views about issues, the internet is a useful tool for developing the skills of distinguishing fact from opinion and exploring subjectivity and objectivity.

Ethical rules for computer users

Some of the rules that individuals should follow while using a computer are listed below:

Do not use computers to harm other users.

Do not use computers to steal others information.

Do not access files without the permission of the owner.

Do not copy copyrighted software without the author’s permission.

Always respect copyright laws and policies

Respect the privacy of others, just as you expect the same from others.

Do not use other user's computer resources without their permission.

Use Internet ethically.

Complain about illegal communication and activities, if found, to Internet service Providers and local law enforcement authorities.

Users are responsible for safeguarding their User Id and Passwords. They should not write them on paper or anywhere else for remembrance.

Users should not intentionally use the computers to retrieve or modify the information of others, which may include password information, files, etc..

Source:  http://infosecawareness.in/students/internet-ethics

Categorized in Internet Ethics

1. “Today's revolution in social communications involves a fundamental reshaping of the elements by which people comprehend the world about them, and verify and express what they comprehend. The constant availability of images and ideas, and their rapid transmission even from continent to continent, have profound consequences, both positive and negative, for the psychological, moral and social development of persons, the structure and functioning of societies, intercultural communications, and the perception and transmission of values, world views, ideologies, and religious beliefs”.

The truth of these words has become clearer than ever during the past decade. Today it takes no great stretch of the imagination to envisage the earth as an interconnected globe humming with electronic transmissions—a chattering planet nestled in the provident silence of space. The ethical question is whether this is contributing to authentic human development and helping individuals and peoples to be true to their transcendent destiny.

And, of course, in many ways the answer is yes. The new media are powerful tools for education and cultural enrichment, for commercial activity and political participation, for intercultural dialogue and understanding; and, as we point out in the document that accompanies this one,2 they also can serve the cause of religion. Yet this coin has another side. Media of communication that can be used for the good of persons and communities can be used to exploit, manipulate, dominate, and corrupt.

2. The Internet is the latest and in many respects most powerful in a line of media—telegraph, telephone, radio, television—that for many people have progressively eliminated time and space as obstacles to communication during the last century and a half. It has enormous consequences for individuals, nations, and the world.

In this document we wish to set out a Catholic view of the Internet, as a starting point for the Church's participation in dialogue with other sectors of society, especially other religious groups, concerning the development and use of this marvelous technological instrument. The Internet is being put to many good uses now, with the promise of many more, but much harm also can be done by its improper use. Which it will be, good or harm, is largely a matter of choice—a choice to whose making the Church brings two elements of great importance: her commitment to the dignity of the human person and her long tradition of moral wisdom.

3. As with other media, the person and the community of persons are central to ethical evaluation of the Internet. In regard to the message communicated, the process of communicating, and structural and systemic issues in communication, “the fundamental ethical principle is this: The human person and the human community are the end and measure of the use of the media of social communication; communication should be by persons to persons for the integral development of persons”.

The common good—“the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily”5—provides a second basic principle for ethical evaluation of social communications. It should be understood inclusively, as the whole of those worthy purposes to which a community's members commit themselves together and which the community exists to realize and sustain. The good of individuals depends upon the common good of their communities.

The virtue disposing people to protect and promote the common good is solidarity. It is not a feeling of “vague compassion or shallow distress” at other people's troubles, but “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”.6 Especially today solidarity has a clear, strong international dimension; it is correct to speak of, and obligatory to work for, the international common good.

4. The international common good, the virtue of solidarity, the revolution in communications media and information technology, and the Internet are all relevant to the process of globalization.

To a great extent, the new technology drives and supports globalization, creating a situation in which “commerce and communications are no longer bound by borders”.7 This has immensely important consequences. Globalization can increase wealth and foster development; it offers advantages like “efficiency and increased production... greater unity among peoples... a better service to the human family”.8 But the benefits have not been evenly shared up to now. Some individuals, commercial enterprises, and countries have grown enormously wealthy while others have fallen behind. Whole nations have been excluded almost entirely from the process, denied a place in the new world taking shape. “Globalization, which has profoundly transformed economic systems by creating unexpected possibilities of growth, has also resulted in many people being relegated to the side of the road: unemployment in the more developed countries and extreme poverty in too many countries of the Southern Hemisphere continue to hold millions of women and men back from progress and prosperity”.

It is by no means clear that even societies that have entered into the globalization process have done so entirely as a matter of free, informed choice. Instead, “many people, especially the disadvantaged, experience this as something that has been forced upon them rather than as a process in which they can actively participate”.

In many parts of the world, globalization is spurring rapid, sweeping social change. This is not just an economic process but a cultural one, with both positive and negative aspects. “Those who are subjected to it often see globalization as a destructive flood threatening the social norms which had protected them and the cultural points of reference which had given them direction in life....Changes in technology and work relationships are moving too quickly for cultures to respond”.

5. One major consequence of the deregulation of recent years has been a shift of power from national states to transnational corporations. It is important that these corporations be encouraged and helped to use their power for the good of humanity; and this points to a need for more communication and dialogue between them and concerned bodies like the Church.

Use of the new information technology and the Internet needs to be informed and guided by a resolute commitment to the practice of solidarity in the service of the common good, within and among nations. This technology can be a means for solving human problems, promoting the integral development of persons, creating a world governed by justice and peace and love. Now, even more than when the Pastoral Instruction on the Means of Social Communications Communio et Progressio made the point more than thirty years ago, media have the ability to make every person everywhere “a partner in the business of the human race”.

This is an astonishing vision. The Internet can help make it real—for individuals, groups, nations, and the human race—only if it is used in light of clear, sound ethical principles, especially the virtue of solidarity. To do so will be to everyone's advantage, for “we know one thing today more than in the past: we will never be happy and at peace without one another, much less if some are against others”.13 This will be an expression of that spirituality of communion which implies “the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God,” along with the ability “to ‘make room' for our brothers and sisters, bearing ‘each other's burdens' (Gal. 6, 2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us”.

6. The spread of the Internet also raises a number of other ethical questions about matters like privacy, the security and confidentiality of data, copyright and intellectual property law, pornography, hate sites, the dissemination of rumor and character assassination under the guise of news, and much else. We shall speak briefly about some of these things below, while recognizing that they call for continued analysis and discussion by all concerned parties. Fundamentally, though, we do not view the Internet only as a source of problems; we see it as a source of benefits to the human race. But the benefits can be fully realized only if the problems are solved.

ABOUT THE INTERNET

7. The Internet has a number of striking features. It is instantaneous, immediate, worldwide, decentralized, interactive, endlessly expandable in contents and outreach, flexible and adaptable to a remarkable degree. It is egalitarian, in the sense that anyone with the necessary equipment and modest technical skill can be an active presence in cyberspace, declare his or her message to the world, and demand a hearing. It allows individuals to indulge in anonymity, role-playing, and fantasizing and also to enter into community with others and engage in sharing. According to users' tastes, it lends itself equally well to active participation and to passive absorption into “a narcissistic, self-referential world of stimuli with near-narcotic effects”.15 It can be used to break down the isolation of individuals and groups or to deepen it.

8. The technological configuration underlying the Internet has a considerable bearing on its ethical aspects: People have tended to use it according to the way it was designed, and to design it to suit that kind of use. This ‘new' system in fact dates back to the cold war years of the 1960s, when it was intended to foil nuclear attack by creating a decentralized network of computers holding vital data. Decentralization was the key to the scheme, since in this way, so it was reasoned, the loss of one or even many computers would not mean the loss of the data.

An idealistic vision of the free exchange of information and ideas has played a praiseworthy part in the development of the Internet. Yet its decentralized configuration and the similarly decentralized design of the World Wide Web of the late 1980s also proved to be congenial to a mindset opposed to anything smacking of legitimate regulation for public responsibility. An exaggerated individualism regarding the Internet thus emerged. Here, it was said, was a new realm, the marvelous land of cyberspace, where every sort of expression was allowed and the only law was total individual liberty to do as one pleased. Of course this meant that the only community whose rights and interests would be truly recognized in cyberspace was the community of radical libertarians. This way of thinking remains influential in some circles, supported by familiar libertarian arguments also used to defend pornography and violence in the media generally.

Although radical individualists and entrepreneurs obviously are two very different groups, there is a convergence of interests between those who want the Internet to be a place for very nearly every kind of expression, no matter how vile and destructive, and those who want it to be a vehicle of untrammeled commercial activity on a neo-liberal model that “considers profit and the law of the market as its only parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of and the respect due to individuals and peoples”.

9. The explosion of information technology has increased the communication capabilities of some favored individuals and groups many times over. The Internet can serve people in their responsible use of freedom and democracy, expand the range of choices available in diverse spheres of life, broaden educational and cultural horizons, break down divisions, promote human development in a multitude of ways. “The free flow of images and speech on a global scale is transforming not only political and economic relations between peoples, but even our understanding of the world. It opens up a range of hitherto unthinkable possibilities”.18 When based upon shared values rooted in the nature of the person, the intercultural dialogue made possible by the Internet and other media of social communication can be “a privileged means for building the civilization of love”.

But that is not the whole story. “Paradoxically, the very forces which can lead to better communication can also lead to increasing self-centeredness and alienation”.20 The Internet can unite people, but it also can divide them, both as individuals and as mutually suspicious groups separated by ideology, politics, possessions, race and ethnicity, intergenerational differences, and even religion. Already it has been used in aggressive ways, almost as a weapon of war, and people speak of the danger of ‘cyber-terrorism.' It would be painfully ironic if this instrument of communication with so much potential for bringing people together reverted to its origins in the cold war and became an arena of international conflict.

SOME AREAS OF CONCERN

10. A number of concerns about the Internet are implicit in what has been said so far.

One of the most important of these involves what today is called the digital divide—a form of discrimination dividing the rich from the poor, both within and among nations, on the basis of access, or lack of access, to the new information technology. In this sense it is an updated version of an older gap between the ‘information rich' and ‘information poor'.

The expression ‘digital divide' underlines the fact that individuals, groups, and nations must have access to the new technology in order to share in the promised benefits of globalization and development and not fall further behind. It is imperative “that the gap between the beneficiaries of the new means of information and expression and those who do not have access to them...not become another intractable source of inequity and discrimination”.21 Ways need to be found to make the Internet accessible to less advantaged groups, either directly or at least by linking it with lower-cost traditional media. Cyberspace ought to be a resource of comprehensive information and services available without charge to all, and in a wide range of languages. Public institutions have a particular responsibility to establish and maintain sites of this kind.

As the new global economy takes shape, the Church is concerned “that the winner in this process will be humanity as a whole” and not just “a wealthy elite that controls science, technology and the planet's resources”; this is to say that the Church desires “a globalization which will be at the service of the whole person and of all people”.

In this connection it should be borne in mind that the causes and consequences of the divide are not only economic but also technical, social, and cultural. So, for example, another Internet ‘divide' operates to the disadvantage of women, and it, too, needs to be closed.

11. We are particularly concerned about the cultural dimensions of what is now taking place. Precisely as powerful tools of the globalization process, the new information technology and the Internet transmit and help instill a set of cultural values—ways of thinking about social relationships, family, religion, the human condition—whose novelty and glamour can challenge and overwhelm traditional cultures.

Intercultural dialogue and enrichment are of course highly desirable. Indeed, “dialogue between cultures is especially needed today because of the impact of new communications technology on the lives of individuals and peoples”.23 But this has to be a two-way street. Cultures have much to learn from one another, and merely imposing the world view, values, and even language of one culture upon another is not dialogue but cultural imperialism.

Cultural domination is an especially serious problem when a dominant culture carries false values inimical to the true good of individuals and groups. As matters stand, the Internet, along with the other media of social communication, is transmitting the value-laden message of Western secular culture to people and societies in many cases ill-prepared to evaluate and cope with it. Many serious problems result—for example, in regard to marriage and family life, which are experiencing “a radical and widespread crisis”24 in many parts of the world.

Cultural sensitivity and respect for other people's values and beliefs are imperative in these circumstances. Intercultural dialogue that “protects the distinctiveness of cultures as historical and creative expressions of the underlying unity of the human family, and...sustains understanding and communion between them” 25 is needed to build and maintain the sense of international solidarity.

12. The question of freedom of expression on the Internet is similarly complex and gives rise to another set of concerns.

We strongly support freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas. Freedom to seek and know the truth is a fundamental human right,26 and freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy. “Man, provided he respects the moral order and the common interest, is entitled to seek after truth, express and make known his opinions...he ought to be truthfully informed about matters of public interest”.27 And public opinion, “an essential expression of human nature organized in society,” absolutely requires “freedom to express ideas and attitudes”.

In light of these requirements of the common good, we deplore attempts by public authorities to block access to information—on the Internet or in other media of social communication—because they find it threatening or embarrassing to them, to manipulate the public by propaganda and disinformation, or to impede legitimate freedom of expression and opinion. Authoritarian regimes are by far the worst offenders in this regard; but the problem also exists in liberal democracies, where access to media for political expression often depends on wealth, and politicians and their advisors violate truthfulness and fairness by misrepresenting opponents and shrinking issues to sound-bite dimensions.

13. In this new environment, journalism is undergoing profound changes. The combination of new technologies and globalization has “increased the powers of the media, but has also made them more liable to ideological and commercial pressures”,29 and this is true of journalism as well.

The Internet is a highly effective instrument for bringing news and information rapidly to people. But the economic competitiveness and round-the-clock nature of Internet journalism also contribute to sensationalism and rumor-mongering, to a merging of news, advertising, and entertainment, and to an apparent decline in serious reporting and commentary. Honest journalism is essential to the common good of nations and the international community. Problems now visible in the practice of journalism on the Internet call for speedy correcting by journalists themselves.

The sheer overwhelming quantity of information on the Internet, much of it unevaluated as to accuracy and relevance, is a problem for many. But we also are concerned lest people make use of the medium's technological capacity for customizing information simply to raise electronic barriers against unfamiliar ideas. That would be an unhealthy development in a pluralistic world where people need to grow in mutual understanding. While Internet users have a duty to be selective and self-disciplined, that should not be carried to the extreme of walling themselves off from others. The medium's implications for psychological development and health likewise need continued study, including the possibility that prolonged immersion in the virtual world of cyberspace may be damaging to some. Although there are many advantages in the capacity technology gives people to “assemble packages of information and services uniquely designed for them”, this also “raises an inescapable question: Will the audience of the future be a multitude of audiences of one?...What would become of solidarity—what would become of love—in a world like that?” 

14. Standing alongside issues that have to do with freedom of expression, the integrity and accuracy of news, and the sharing of ideas and information, is another set of concerns generated by libertarianism. The ideology of radical libertarianism is both mistaken and harmful—not least, to legitimate free expression in the service of truth. The error lies in exalting freedom “to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values....In this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and ‘being at peace with oneself”'.31 There is no room for authentic community, the common good, and solidarity in this way of thinking.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

15. As we have seen, the virtue of solidarity is the measure of the Internet's service of the common good. It is the common good that supplies the context for considering the ethical question: “Are the media being used for good or evil?” 

Many individuals and groups share responsibility in this matter—for example, the transnational corporations of which we spoke above. All users of the Internet are obliged to use it in an informed, disciplined way, for morally good purposes; parents should guide and supervise children's use.33 Schools and other educational institutions and programs for children and adults should provide training in discerning use of the Internet as part of a comprehensive media education including not just training in technical skills—‘computer literacy' and the like—but a capacity for informed, discerning evaluation of content. Those whose decisions and actions contribute to shaping the structure and contents of the Internet have an especially serious duty to practice solidarity in the service of the common good.

16. Prior censorship by government should be avoided; “censorship...should only be used in the very last extremity”.34 But the Internet is no more exempt than other media from reasonable laws against hate speech, libel, fraud, child pornography and pornography in general, and other offenses. Criminal behavior in other contexts is criminal behavior in cyberspace, and the civil authorities have a duty and a right to enforce such laws. New regulations also may be needed to deal with special ‘Internet' crimes like the dissemination of computer viruses, the theft of personal data stored on hard disks, and the like.

Regulation of the Internet is desirable, and in principle industry self-regulation is best. “The solution to problems arising from unregulated commercialization and privatization does not lie in state control of media but in more regulation according to criteria of public service and in greater public accountability”.35 Industry codes of ethics can play a useful role, provided they are seriously intended, involve representatives of the public in their formulation and enforcement, and, along with giving encouragement to responsible communicators, carry appropriate penalties for violations, including public censure.36 Circumstances sometimes may require state intervention: for example, by setting up media advisory boards representing the range of opinion in the community.

17. The Internet's transnational, boundary-bridging character and its role in globalization require international cooperation in setting standards and establishing mechanisms to promote and protect the international common good.38 In regard to media technology, as in regard to much else, “there is a pressing need for equity at the international level”.39 Determined action in the private and public sectors is needed to close and eventually eliminate the digital divide.

Many difficult Internet-related questions call for international consensus: for example, how to guarantee the privacy of law-abiding individuals and groups without keeping law enforcement and security officials from exercising surveillance over criminals and terrorists; how to protect copyright and intellectual property rights without limiting access to material in the public domain—and how to define the ‘public domain' itself; how to establish and maintain broad-based Internet repositories of information freely available to all Internet users in a variety of languages; how to protect women's rights in regard to Internet access and other aspects of the new information technology. In particular, the question of how to close the digital divide between the information rich and the information poor requires urgent attention in its technical, educational, and cultural aspects.

There is today a “growing sense of international solidarity” that offers the United Nations system in particular “a unique opportunity to contribute to the globalization of solidarity by serving as a meeting place for states and civil society and as a convergence of the varied interests and needs...Cooperation between international agencies and nongovernmental organizations will help to ensure that the interests of states—legitimate though they may be—and of the different groups within them, will not be invoked or defended at the expense of the interests or rights of other peoples, especially the less fortunate”.40 In this connection we hope that the World Summit of the Information Society scheduled to take place in 2003 will make a positive contribution to the discussion of these matters.

18. As we pointed out above, a companion document to this one called The Church and Internet speaks specifically about the Church's use of the Internet and the Internet's role in the life of the Church. Here we wish only to emphasize that the Catholic Church, along with other religious bodies, should have a visible, active presence on the Internet and be a partner in the public dialogue about its development. “The Church does not presume to dictate these decisions and choices, but it does seek to be of help by indicating ethical and moral criteria which are relevant to the process—criteria which are to be found in both human and Christian values”.

The Internet can make an enormously valuable contribution to human life. It can foster prosperity and peace, intellectual and aesthetic growth, mutual understanding among peoples and nations on a global scale.

It also can help men and women in their age-old search for self-understanding. In every age, including our own, people ask the same fundamental questions: “Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?” 42 The Church cannot impose answers, but she can—and must—proclaim to the world the answers she has received; and today, as always, she offers the one ultimately satisfying answer to the deepest questions of life—Jesus Christ, who “fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”.43 Like today's world itself, the world of media, including the Internet, has been brought by Christ, inchoately yet truly, within the boundaries of the kingdom of God and placed in service to the word of salvation. Yet “far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come”.

Source: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/pccs/documents/rc_pc_pccs_doc_20020228_ethics-internet_en.html

Categorized in Internet Ethics
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