The Internet offers unprecedented power to provide users of healthcare information - patients, professionals, families, caregivers, educators, researchers, insurers, regulators, and policymakers - with data of unprecedented timeliness, accuracy, depth, and diversity. The very qualities that make the Internet such a rich marketplace of ideas - its decentralized structure, global reach, leveling of access to the tools of publication, immediacy of response, and ability to facilitate free-ranging interchange - also make it an exceptional channel for potential misinformation, unethical use, concealed bias, covert self-dealing, fraudulent practices, and evasion of legitimate regulation.
There are many inadequacies concerning national and international controls and legislation, especially regarding the issue of jurisdiction; and urgent need for an internationally accepted policy framework that addresses basic rights and responsibilities of users and providers. Freedom of access to information and expression and the protection of users' data security and privacy are especially critical topics. Decisions and initiatives related to cyberspace law and ethics issues in health and healthcare must necessarily involve experts from a variety of knowledge domains involving civil and criminal law, medical ethics (bioethics), computing ethics, medical computing, and legal medicine.
Given the sensitive nature of health care information,... [continues]
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