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Internet Privacy And Business Ethics Essay

2637 words - 11 pages

"We, who have a private life and hold it infinitely the dearest of our possessions...." (1)INTRODUCTIONAn important part of the ethics of business is computer ethics (CE) or information ethics. According to Luciano Floridi (2) the urgency of computer ethics has not yet been raised to the status of a philosophically respectable topic. Most philosophers view computer ethics as a "professional ethic" rather than a true ethics issue.The purpose of this paper will be to examine some of the legal issues of the Internet and the privacy of those who use the Internet and frame those legal issues in the context of an ethical issue. Kant's categorical imperatives of morality will be used to model the selected legal issues into an ethical framework.Section 1 of the paper provides background information on Internet privacy and the vulnerability of the user on the Internet, Section 2 explains some of the causes of invasion of privacy over the internet, Section 3 outlines some of the practices of business and government using the Internet and the legal implications, Section 4 contains a discussion of the ethical issues of the practices described in Section 3, and Section 5 summarizes the discussion.BACKGROUNDThe Internet is the global Web of linked networks and computers, so its nature is such that it is very difficult if not impossible, to determine its size at a given moment. It is indisputable, however, that the Internet recently has experienced a tremendous growth, with the ranks of new users swelling at ever-increasing rates. This expansion has catapulted it from the realm of academic research towards newfound mainstream acceptance and increased social relevance for the average individual. Yet, this suddenly increased reliance on the Internet has the potential to erode the personal privacy that an individual once took for granted.New users of the Internet generally do not realize that every post they make to a newsgroup, every piece of email they send, every World Wide Web page they access, and every item they purchase online could be monitored or logged by some unseen third party. The impact on personal privacy is enormous. Databases of many different kinds, selling or giving away collections of personal data, already exist, and this practice will only become more common as the demand for this information grows.One of the most interesting examples is that of advertisers and marketers who, by using sophisticated new research, have began to target the rapidly growing numbers of users online. World Wide Web sites and other interactive online services are being designed to capture the loyalty and spending power of "the lucrative cyber tot category." A variety of new interactive advertising and marketing techniques have been developed specifically for this new medium.The right to privacy in Internet activity, especially in creating databases out of personal information, is a serious issue facing society. As such it raises serious legal issue, but ethical...

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