The Internet as a Diverse Community: Cultural, Organizational, and Political Issues

By Urs E. Gattiker | Go to book overview

5—
Ethics and Morals

Overview

This section gives the reader a framework for studying changes and developments on the Internet with the help and understanding of ethics, morality, justice, and the rights of individuals and groups. Choices made about technology and its use on the Internet reflect our values and beliefs of what is right or wrong and what is morally acceptable. Cyberspace is a medium that transcends boundaries and connects users worldwide. Hence, morality and justice principles from one country may fail to prevail, although U.S. regulators have undertaken attempts in this direction. Success has been limited, and privacy lobby groups, including business, have opposed regulation citing business costs of privacy and rights concerns (Appendices C, D, & E).

Our values, beliefs, interests, and objectives guide which customs, norms, and rituals we adhere to (cf. Fig. 4.1). Based on this cultural framework, we may then perceive certain actions and behaviors as morally acceptable or not (cf. Fig. 5.1). Ethics provide the foundation for our morals, understanding of justice and, ultimately, for the law. In turn, ethics (see Fig. 5.1) affect our cyberspace choices, behaviors, and the resulting technical systems we create (e.g., entertainment with the help of video games or virtual reality; cf. Fig. 1.1 and Table 3.2).

We may still have a long way to go before uniform ethics and morals for the various parties taking advantage of the Internet are understood and, most importantly, abided by. In fact, countries and people may resist such efforts wanting to maintain their cultural heritage and a society's unique-

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