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

By Urs E. Gattiker | Go to book overview

6—
Morality, Privacy, and Codes of Conduct

Overview

This section provides the reader with some research findings about how people may feel about certain computer and Internet-mediated behaviors. An action that may be considered a personal matter by some may be perceived as immoral by others (passing on a computer game). Moreover, technologies are perceived differently when it comes to their possible intrusion of a person's privacy. Comparisons of code of conduct or ethics in computing for two different associations indicate that cultural and cross-national differences remain. This chapter suggests that the Internet is far from becoming an institution (Appendices E, F, & G).

Institutions are characterized by a social reality that is understood by all their members. Hence, members follow and adhere to similar, if not identical, codes of conduct addressing ethics and morals. This chapter shows, however, that differences exist according to culture, gender, and much more in how people may interpret the passing on of an illegal game via e-mail or in placing a virus on a BB. Here I present cognitive development theory that asserts that moral issues in all cultures involve justice, rights, or harm issues. Moreover, some have argued that individuals may not be able to identify the material and psychological consequences of their behavior on the Internet, possibly making them careless or even reckless.

To become an institution, Internet users would either have to adhere to the same ethical standards and morals and interpret certain behavior to be just or unjust or the majority would have to agree! However, even a comparison between codes of ethics among professional organizations having

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