Ethics and Privacy of Communications in the E-Polis

Ethics and Privacy of Communications in the E-Polis

Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic (Mälardalen University, Sweden) and Virginia Horniak (Mälardalen University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-937-3.ch168
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Abstract

The electronic networking of physical space promises wide-ranging advances in science, medicine, delivery of services, environmental monitoring and remediation, industrial production and the monitoring of persons and machines. It can also lead to new forms of social interaction. However, without appropriate architecture and regulatory controls, it can also subvert democratic values. Information technology is not, in fact, neutral in its values; we must be intentional about design for democracy (Pottie, 2004). Information and communication technology (ICT) has led to the emergence of global Web societies. The subject of this article is privacy and its protection in the process of urbanization and socialization of the global digital Web society referred to as the e-polis. Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in all major international agreements regarding human rights, such as Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948), and it is discussed in the article “Different Views of Privacy”. Today’s computer network technologies are sociologically founded on hunter-gatherer principles. As a result, common users may be possible subjects of surveillance and sophisticated Internet-based attacks. A user may be completely unaware of such privacy breaches taking place. At the same time, ICT offers the technical possibilities of embedded privacy protection obtained by making technology trustworthy and legitimate by design. This means incorporating options for socially acceptable behavior in technical systems, and making privacy protection rights and responsibilities transparent to the user. The ideals of democratic government must be respected and even further developed in the future e-government. Ethical questions and privacy of communications require careful analysis, as they have far-reaching consequences affecting the basic principles of e-democracy.

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