Ethics in Cyberspace
Cyberspace is a global community of people using computers in networks. The cyber world has become a very important part of our everyday lives. We spend an increasingly significant portion of our lives in it and use it to communicate with friends, acquaintances, loved ones, and business associates. We make use of our computers and Internet connectivity to look for and purchase all kinds of goods and services. We use the web and all its powerful resources to educate ourselves and to gain knowledge. We are able to look for, join and keep up with special interest groups and to discuss topics of interest to us. We research serious as well as mundane issues on line.
In summary, cyberspace has become an interactive world that many of us have fully integrated into our lives. There is dark side to this phenomenon. The ease and anonymity by which we are able to perform all and many more of these feats of contact and access an entire universe of places and people have created a dilemma: the need for cyber ethics. In order to function well, the virtual communities supported by the Internet depend upon rules of conduct, the same as any society. Librarians and information technologists must be knowledgeable about ethical issues for the welfare of their organizations and to protect and advise users.
What is ethics? Ethics is the art of determining what is right or good. It can also be defined as a general pattern or way of life, a set of rules of conduct or moral code. In more simple words, it is the study of what is right to do in a given situation, and what we ought to do. Ethical guidelines are based on values.
The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) is one national organization which has developed a statement of its values. Every member of ACM is expected to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which includes these general moral imperatives:
* contribute to society and human well-being
* avoid harm to others