Ethics of Information Communication Technology (Ict)

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239

ETHICS OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)

Paper prepared by Tengku Mohd T. Sembok, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for the Regional Meeting on Ethics of Science and Technology 5-7 November 2003, Bangkok

UNESCO Regional Unit for Social & Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific (RUSHSAP)

241

ETHICS OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)

1. INTRODUCTION
Globalization and digital convergence in the emerging knowledge society has raised complex ethical, legal and societal issues. We are faced with complex and difficult questions regarding the freedom of expression, access to information, the right to privacy, intellectual property rights, and cultural diversity. ICT is an instrumental need of all humans for the gathering of information and knowledge, and as such, should be guaranteed as a basic right to all human beings. All over the world, rights that are already legally recognised are daily being violated, whether in the name of economic advancement, political stability, religious causes, the campaign against terrorism, or for personal greed and interests. Violations of these rights have created new problems in human social systems, such as the digital divide, cybercrime, digital security and privacy concerns, all of which have affected people’s lives either directly or indirectly. It is important that the countries of the Asia-Pacific region come up with an assessment of the situation, followed by guidelines for action to combat the incidence of malicious attacks on the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic data and systems, computer-related crimes, such as forgery and fraud, content related offenses, such as those related to child pornography, and violations of intellectual property rights (IPRs). Further, threats to critical infrastructure and national interests arising from the use of the internet for criminal and terrorist activities are of growing concern after the September 11 incident. The harm incurred to businesses, governments and individuals in those countries in which the internet is used widely, is gaining in scope and importance, while in other countries, cybercrime threatens the application of information and communication technology for government services, health care, trade, and banking. As users start losing confidence in transactions and business, the opportunity costs may become substantial. The challenges to the region, reportedly, lie mainly in the general lack of awareness of information security issues, the rapidly evolving complexity of systems, the increasing capacity and reach of information and communication technology, the anonymity afforded by these technologies, and the transnational nature of communication networks. Few countries in the region have appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks to meet these challenges. Even where awareness is growing and where legislation may be adequate, capacity to use information security technologies and related procedures, as well as to protect against, detect and

242 respond effectively, to cybercrime, is low. As a result, reports of cybercrime may represent only a small fraction of their incidence, creating a need for more accurate estimates of the prevalence of cybercrime. (Duggal, http://www.cyberlaws.net/ cyberindia/articles.htm). There are a few countries of the region which, as a result of governmental investment, policy development and human resources development programmes, have built significant capacity, experience and know-how which can be shared with other countries. Cybercrime is a global problem that threatens all countries and economies. As a crime that is committed across national borders, it requires cooperative, pro-active approaches in support of the less developed countries of the region. The objective of this paper is to compile: i. Information concerning ethical issues in the Asia-Pacific regarding: i. Digital Divide ii. Poverty iii. Piracy iv. Cybercrime v. Human Rights...
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