Chapter 12: Security, Privacy, and Ethics

42 12.3 Digital Rights

From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights &

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_ethics

The term digital rights describes the human rights that allow individuals to access, use, create, and publish digital media or to access and use computers, other electronic devices, or communications networks. The term is particularly related to the protection and realization of existing rights, such as the right to privacy or freedom of expression, in the context of new digital technologies, especially the Internet.[1] Internet access is recognized as a right by the laws of several countries.[2]

Human rights and the Internet[edit]

A number of human rights have been identified as relevant with regard to the Internet. These include freedom of expression, data protection and privacy and freedom of association. Furthermore, the right to education and multilingualism, consumer rights, and capacity building in the context of the right to development have also been identified.[3]

The Internet is a global public good that should be accessible to all and respectful of the rights of others, said an influential Jesuit magazine.

With repressive regimes restricting access to information and communications, democratic governments should work to guarantee access to the Internet and adopt general principles to ensure network use respects universal human rights said an editorial in La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal reviewed by the Vatican before publication.

“What the law permits or prohibits offline must also be the case online,” said the editorial released Nov. 17.

The “only widespread international consensus” on online material to be censored regards child pornography and cyberterrorism, the article said.

The Jesuit journal said that with individuals abusing the freedom of expression, with companies potentially exploiting computer users for financial gain and repressive regimes blocking information from their citizens, the world needs a “Charter of Human Rights for the Internet”.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticized the United States government for considering during the Megaupload seizure process that people lose property rights by storing data on a cloud computing service.[4]

Ensuring that access is broadly available and/or preventing unreasonable restrictions[edit]

Several countries have adopted laws that require the state to work to ensure that Internet access is broadly available and/or preventing the state from unreasonably restricting an individual’s access to information and the Internet:

  • Costa Rica: A 30 July 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court of Costa Rica stated: “Without fear of equivocation, it can be said that these technologies [information technology and communication] have impacted the way humans communicate, facilitating the connection between people and institutions worldwide and eliminating barriers of space and time. At this time, access to these technologies becomes a basic tool to facilitate the exercise of fundamental rights and democratic participation (e-democracy) and citizen control, education, freedom of thought and expression, access to information and public services online, the right to communicate with government electronically and administrative transparency, among others. This includes the fundamental right of access to these technologies, in particular, the right of access to the Internet or World Wide Web.”[5]
  • Estonia: In 2000, the parliament launched a massive program to expand access to the countryside. The Internet, the government argues, is essential for life in the 21st century.[6]
  • Finland: By July 2010, every person in Finland was to have access to a one-megabit per second broadband connection, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications. And by 2015, access to a 100 Mbit/s connection.[7]
  • France: In June 2009, the Constitutional Council, France’s highest court, declared access to the Internet to be a basic human right in a strongly-worded decision that struck down portions of the HADOPI law, a law that would have tracked abusers and without judicial review and automatically cut off network access to those who continued to download illicit material after two warnings[8]
  • Greece: Article 5A of the Constitution of Greece states that all persons has a right to participate in the Information Society and that the state has an obligation to facilitate the production, exchange, diffusion, and access to electronically transmitted information.[9]
  • Spain: Starting in 2011, Telefónica, the former state monopoly that holds the country’s “universal service” contract, has to guarantee to offer “reasonably” priced broadband of at least one megabyte per second throughout Spain.[10]

Information ethics has been defined as “the branch of ethics that focuses on the relationship between the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of information, and the ethical standards and moral codes governing human conduct in society”.[1] It provides a critical framework for considering moral issues concerning informational privacy, moral agency (e.g. whether artificial agents may be moral), new environmental issues (especially how agents should behave in the infosphere), problems arising from the life-cycle (creation, collection, recording, distribution, processing, etc.) of information (especially ownership and copyright, digital divide, and digital rights). Information ethics is related to the fields of computer ethics[2] and the philosophy of information.

Dilemmas regarding the life of information are becoming increasingly important in a society that is defined as “the information society”. Information transmission and literacy are essential concerns in establishing an ethical foundation that promotes fair, equitable, and responsible practices. Information ethics broadly examines issues related to ownership, access, privacy, security, and community.

Information technology affects common issues such as copyright protection, intellectual freedom, accountability, privacy, and security. Many of these issues are difficult or impossible to resolve due to fundamental tensions between Western moral philosophies (based on rules, democracy, individual rights, and personal freedoms) and the traditional Eastern cultures (based on relationships, hierarchy, collective responsibilities, and social harmony).[3] The multi-faceted dispute between Google and the government of the People’s Republic of China reflects some of these fundamental tensions.

Professional codes offer a basis for making ethical decisions and applying ethical solutions to situations involving information provision and use which reflect an organization’s commitment to responsible information service. Evolving information formats and needs require continual reconsideration of ethical principles and how these codes are applied. Considerations regarding information ethics influence “personal decisions, professional practice, and public policy”.[4] Therefore, ethical analysis must provide a framework to take into consideration “many, diverse domains” (ibid.) regarding how information is distributed.

The main, peer-reviewed, academic journals reporting on information ethics are the Journal of the Association for Information Systems, the flagship publication of theAssociation for Information Systems, and Ethics and Information Technology, published by Springer.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Information, People, and Technology by by Wikipedia, with help from Bart Pursel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book