Ethics in Cyberspace: Have We Seen This Movie
DR. THOMAS DONALDSON
Monday, February 5, 2001 Wilder Pavilion, Adamian Academic
Center Bentley College Waltham, Massachusetts
Njeru Salesio Kinyua:
Nduati Paul Njaaga:
Toroitich Patrick Kiplimo:
Dr. Donaldson begins by stating that his topic, ethics in cyberspace, should be
approached with considerable humility.
Internet has dramatically affected our lives while frustrating our attempts to understand it
and therefore we should be mindful that in the past, great intellects have been undone by
the ...view middle of the document...
If someone followed you around the mall keeping track of your purchases, you might
consider that an invasion of your privacy.
Would that be fundamentally different from the cookie tracking practiced today by
You can get anybody's bank or credit card statements for $95 or a list of someone's
stocks or bonds, including their account numbers, for $309.
You can get someone's social security number, the physical description of their spouse,
details about their car, and information about their former addresses and employers - all
for small amounts of money.
The most outstanding challenge arising from internet use is privacy.
Misuse of private information is an old ethical issue to which the internet has lent a
Information that was available before is now universally accessible and package in a
manner that opens it to misuse.
Does obtaining this information constitute a violation of
While such information was available before, the fact that it
is now readily packaged and universally accessible means
that we must confront issues of misuse as never before.
On occasion, it has turned extremely ominous, as when a
stalker gathered information from the internet and used it to
murder his victim.
Can technology by itself launch fundamentally new
Think of the printing press and how it undermined the authority of the
Catholic Church in the Renaissance. (15TH CENTURY)
Many scholars believe it was a principal force underlying the
People no longer had to rely on priests for their interpretation of the
Bible; they could read it themselves and, as a result, develop their own
relationship with God.
The Industrial Revolution, another instance of technological evolution,
pushed people of the 19th century out of homes and cottage industries
It led to children working six days a week, 13 hours a day in factories.
Internet inspired social contracts
The lecturer says he prefers a social contract approach to business ethics.
The emergence of powerful new technology reflects social contracts in collision.
Consider the technological impetus of the Industrial Revolution.
Embedded cultural values existed prior to the Industrial Revolution.
Then, along came behavior driven by technological innovation such as the
monotony of the assembly line, child labor, and new forms of corporate
Out of this fermenting brew arose a new social contract, one that constituted a
contractual compromise between
the behaviors driven by technological innovation and
pre-existing social values.
Something similar is happening with the internet.
Value Evolution (slow...