Lecture 11a: Social
Impact and Ethical Issues of the Internet
What You Will Learn Today
- Compare the Internet with other communications
- Select ethical principles and a
code of conduct on which to base decisions.
- Discuss the impact of commercialisation
of the Internet.
- Discuss freedom of speech and
censorship on the Internet.
- Discuss privacy and security
issues and viruses.
- Discuss information and software ownership,
distribution and plagiarism.
- Discuss the international impact of the Internet on
development, equity and culture.
- How is the Internet like other communications media? How is it
- global scale, anonymity, interactivity, reproducibility,
- What unique social impacts and ethical issues has the Internet
- What social and ethical issues are not also general IT issues?
- How does the Internet magnify or intensify existing ethical issues?
- What new, unsolved ethical problems has the Internet produced?
- Consider social and ethical issues when designing a web page or
- Create a policy for Internet access and use by your organisation.
- What are the important questions to ask?
- Moral dilemmas arise when it is unclear which ethical principle to
use, especially if there is a conflict.
- When deciding if an action is right, consider the following:
- If everyone acted the same way, would society as a whole benefit?
- Are people being treated as an end, or merely used as the means to an end?
- Is the action equitable and fair to everyone?
- Are you respecting the rights and resources of others?
- Do you follow standards of performance and behaviour?
- Are you acting with competence, responsibility and integrity?
- What is valued by you and by society?
- Contributes to society and human well-being
- Avoids harm to others
- Is honest and trustworthy
- Is fair and takes action not to discriminate on the basis
of race, sex, religion, age, disability, or national origin
- Honors property rights, including copyrights and patents
- Gives proper credit when using the intellectual property of
- Respects the right of other individuals to privacy
- Honors confidentiality
- The Internet started as a tool for academic research.
- In about 1994 the Internet was opened for commercial uses.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of commercialisation and
- How has the Internet improved or worsened as a result?
- How do the Internet and e-mail resemble speech? How are they
- Some types of content can be considered objectionable or anti-social.
- pornography/obscenity/indecency, flaming, defamation/slander/libel, racial/ethnic hate, and
depiction of violence
- Who defines what is objectionable? What are the legal definitions
of these terms?
- What is the motivation and harm of anti-social content on
- Is the bandwidth cost of anti-social content high?
- Netiquette is a suggested way to behave when participating in
- With the right to use a service comes responsibility to
use it ethically.
- Should people be allowed to post whatever they want on the Internet, and
send any type of e-mail to anyone?
- How do you decide if you are overusing or wasting Internet bandwidth and
- Spam is unsolicited (unrequested) messages, often sent to multiple
recipients, often considered inappropriate.
- What types of spam should be allowed, and what types should be banned?
- When should there be rules or penalties against sending spam?
- How and why are other communications media regulated?
- The Internet started informally in a spirit of good will and cooperation
with no formal regulations.
- Should the Internet be regulated, or is self-regulation generally
- To what extent can the Internet be regulated, especially
- Who should be given the responsibility to regulate what information
is transmitted on the Internet?
- Should companies be allowed to regulate the types of content sent
on their systems?
- Should UMU block access to Yahoo and Hotmail during the day, and to
other sites at other times?
- Who should be allowed or denied access to anti-social content?
- How should children be protected? Site rating systems? Filtering
software? Discussion and education?
- What harm can be caused by censorship (regulating or prohibiting
- Privacy is the freedom from being observed or disturbed.
- Privacy protects personal information, property and space, and
- Confidentiality is not revealing secret information to people other
than its originally intended recipient.
- Why is privacy important? What rights should individuals have
concerning their privacy?
- What is the harm of allowing governments, organizations and individuals
collect private information?
- Companies use private information for focused marketing and data mining.
- Stalking is tracking someone, which the Internet can make easier
e.g. search engines and companies.
- Criminals can obtain bank account and credit card numbers, contact
- What information should governments be allowed to monitor?
- Governments can use private information to fight crime and terrorism.
- What information should companies be allowed to collect from its
customers, and sell to other companies?
- When should administrators be allowed to monitor e-mail messages?
- Should employers be allowed to monitor employee e-mail on company
- How can/should organisations protect the privacy and
confidentiality of its employees and customers?
- In what cases is it permissible to maintain data about a person without
the person's consent?
- What policies are in place for data security and removal?
- What information should you reveal to whom?
- What measures can/should you take to protect your privacy when using the
- What types of security threats are possible on the Internet?
- What types of harm and damage can be done when security is breached?
- Is sabotage or damage of system data a more harmful crime than downloading data?
- What categories of people are considered security threats?
- Who should be allowed access to what?
- What should be the penalties for unauthorised access?
- Systems are often protected using passwords.
- How can you choose your password to be more secure?
- Firewalls protect organisation networks against unauthorised access
from the external Internet.
- Proxy servers filter outgoing requests and incoming data to block
access to inappropriate external content.
- Encryption (e.g. Pretty Good Privacy) protects data content so that
only those with the key can read it.
- Should governments be allowed special access to encrypted information to
fight crime and terrorism?
- Can governments prevent people from using certain types of encryption?
- Digital signatures authenticate (verify identity).
- Checksums verify data integrity and transmission accuracy.
- File backups and power backup systems protect hardware and data.
ACM Guidelines for Computer Professionals
- take precautions to ensure accuracy of data
- protect data from unauthorised access or accidental disclosure to
- establish procedures for individuals to review their records and correct
- define retention and disposal procedures for information
- What is a virus?
- What harm can viruses do?
- How can viruses be transmitted?
- How do networks help in the spread of viruses?
- What protection features does anti-virus software provide?
- How can you use anti-virus software to prevent viruses? To
recover from viruses?
- What other measures and practices should be used?
- Why would someone want to write a virus? What is their motivation?
- Should there be laws to punish authors of viruses for the harm
- Who owns information? Whose property is information?
- Copyright is a long-term legal right to print, publish, etc.
- It is designed to protect the rights of people who create.
- A patent is a shorter-term monopoly right for inventors.
- A trademark is a short phrase used in identifying a brand of
- Fair use does not violate copyright, e.g. if it is intended for
education, research, non-profit, non-commercial uses.
- The Internet can make it much easier to copy and distribute software and
- What are your rights to information on the Internet?
- What are your responsibilities for using the information?
- What is the harm of downloading and listening to pirated mp3 music files
from the Internet?
- Will the producer lose profits or market share if you make and distribute
- How should the penalties be determined for those who break the copyright
- Should you put copyright notices on your organisation's web pages? e.g. ©
2003 Uganda Martyrs University
- Who owns a website created by an employee: the employee or the
- Governments of some countries like China poorly enforce international
- Companies in heavy content producing countries like the US claim to lose
billions of dollars a year from copyright violations.
- Should the US impose economic sanctions on countries like China?
- Is it less wrong for people in developing countries to violate
international copyright laws?
- Plagiarism is the presenting of other people's work or ideas as if
they were your own.
- Is it ethical to copy information from the Internet and use it on your own
- How much information can you use without giving credit to the
- When is it appropriate to use an exact quote, and when can you
- When is it necessary to ask permission from the authors to use
- Software piracy is illegally copying, distributing and using
- Types of software distribution include commercial software,
shareware, freeware, and open source software.
- Shareware works on the "honour system" and asks you to register and pay
after some days.
- The open source initiative encourages non-proprietary software, source
code, protocols, data formats.
- The Internet was founded on academic collaboration, sharing and helping
- Richard Stallman started the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation
to encourage free software.
- How can the Internet help international development?
- In what situations can the Internet be a cheaper form of information, e.g.
to replace books?
- How can/does the government use the Internet to provide services to its
- How can schools and universities make the best use of the Internet?
- Are web sites successful for international fund raising and generating
awareness of development problems?
- Does the Internet merely increase dependency by focusing on charity to
- Can/should governments protect their national interests by regulating
- Access to the Internet is very unequal among and within countries.
- Africa has relatively low bandwidth for relatively high cost.
- Africans pay for most of the traffic between Africa and Europe or the
- In Africa only an elite few have access to Internet.
- Does the Internet decrease or increase the digital divide (technological
- How can access become more equitable? Who will/should pay for these
- How heavily should governments invest in their country's Internet
- In providing Internet to schools? In supporting private telecomm
- The Internet facilitates sharing of information and cooperation
among people of many cultures.
- This can help to promote international peace and understanding.
- However, much of the content of the Internet is in English and
comes from the US and Europe.
- Much of the content about Africa is not created by Africans.
- What can be done to change the imbalance of content?
- Is Africa fairly represented in the Internet and other communications
- How does the Internet affect individual, cultural and national
- Are traditional values, customs and religions and being destroyed by
media like the Internet?
- Does the Internet accelerate the creation of a monoculture of selfish,
- How does the Internet affect democratic values and control of a
government over its people?
- Is the Internet empowering to the disempowered, freeing people to
publish what they like?
- Is the Internet a vehicle for economic/linguistic/cultural imperialism
- Must all governments accept complete freedom of speech?
- What if some content is offensive to some religious groups or breaks
final project usability test plan and
Lab 10 are due Friday.
Project 5 and
Lab 11 are due next Friday.
Readings: Hofstetter ch. 25; Duncan Langford, Internet Ethics;
Computers in Your Future ch. 10