Is an Internet Ethics Code Necessary?
Is an Internet Ethics Code Necessary?
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  • 승인 2005.12.01 12:01
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Important role envisaged for new body, "Internet Ethics Promotion" On the occasion of the inauguration of the Internet Ethics Promotion Headquarters on November 10, the Korea IT Times carries the following contributory article from Chung Jinwook, president of the organization.-Ed.
First, it has become possible to extend people's scope of activity almost endlessly, beyond the limits of space and time due to the advent of the cyber space Internet. The activities of Internet users can now have influence on tens and hundreds of million people simultaneously without the limits of distance. Moreover, encounters between people through the Internet are carried out in the form of non face-to-face arrangements that are different from those in the agricultural and industrial societies. Accordingly, there can only be limits to stipulating human activities in cyberspace based on traditional ethics built up for face-to-face meetings with a limited number of people. Therefore, new ethics suitable for the Internet Age is needed in the Internet Age. Secondly, the ethics of today has attached more importance mostly to the motive and intention of an action than its outcome as a barometer of public morals. However, it has become difficult to disregard but attach an equal importance to the action's outcome just like its motive and intentions due to the traits of the Internet I have mentioned. This is because the scope of damage from any indiscretion on the Internet is far-reaching and indiscriminating to such an extent that is incomparable to any of those we had seen before. Since the shock waves of an action can be far-reaching to every corner of the world despite its good intentions users of the Internet require guidelines or Internet ethics that is based on a better understanding of the technical characteristics of the Internet and that is suitable for the Internet. Thirdly, the ethics of today is centered on humans as both the subjects and objects of its teachings. However, a countless number of things with new concepts have appeared in the world of cyber space and are playing the role of objects of ethics and sometimes its subjects. Even though those new subjects and objects are the creation of humans, they, too, should be the objects of ethics. This is similar to what the environment has become in the environment ethics as its object. Those robots, 'Abatas', cyber money and even cyber cities and governments embodied in the Internet through software solutions have all become new objects of ethics. Therefore, there arises a need for a new Internet ethics that includes such new objects. Our second living space, the Internet
The Internet has taken its firm root as the second living space of ours. The number of households connected to the high-speed Internet has surpassed 10 million and the number of Internet users, too, has exceeded 30 million. Since most of the Korean people from preschool children to the silver generation are connected to the Internet 2 to 3 hours a day, it is not at all misleading to call the Internet our second living space. Moreover, the Internet has now gone beyond the limits of the wired and expanded to the wireless world, and dashing to such a state that the Internet is accessible anywhere and anytime without the limits of space and time true to the word. The Internet has brought about fearsome changes to our communications. Such changes probably may be the most forceful ones since the invention of a language. People form social relations with others and can influence their lives through communication. The advancement in communications demands us to be more careful and thoughtful in using the communicating power. If a man with a terrifying weapon does not fully recognize the awesome power of the weapon and uses it recklessly, the bad effects from its use will be enormous. The bad effects from an improper use of the Internet can exceed those of weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Internet is freely usable by anyone from preschool children to the silver generation. Accordingly, the Internet ethics starts with the task of making all Internet users to fully recognize the awesome power of the Internet and call their attentions to how carefully one should use this dreadful tool. At the basis of security issues of the Internet lies the lack of ethical mind. If we convert the time and efforts invested for resolving security issues nationally into bills it could reach trillion won annually. Security issues are very important. However, security issues are post factum measures. These are the pondering about how to deal with detrimental actions after they have been already committed. The Internet ethics is in fact nothing more than making a person with a pistol to act with conscience and under justifiable conditions instead of worrying about how to deal with the aftereffects of gunshots being fired. Accordingly, we have to be prepared for numerous bad effects that may be generated from not having cemented the Internet ethics. The education of Internet ethics becomes more of an important concern as the age of ones to be educated gets younger. This is because they are the ones who will open the doors for our future dreams together with the Internet. Tasks facing Internet Ethics Promotion The reason for launching the Internet Ethics Promotion is to inform people of the urgent need for Internet ethics and to promote it through education and research. For some time, some organizations have carried out the education of Internet ethics. Even so, we plan to concentrate on expanding more systematic and continuous education. As I have said already, everyone from preschool children to college students and the general public as a whole need the education. Especially, the necessity grows in its importance and urgency as the age gets younger. Therefore, the Internet Ethics Promotion judges that it is important to educate and foster those in college who will later have the ability to guide young students concerning Internet ethics. Already, we have made Internet ethics to be the regular course of study in over 80 colleges around the nation and have published a textbook for this purpose. We are currently preparing to issue more effective teaching materials including new textbooks with ample contents for in-depth study. In addition, we are preparing to conduct an Internet ethics aptitude test on over 1,500 college students during this semester to maximize the effects of education. Through various means of analysis on this exam, we plan to make the best use of the results gained from such analysis for raising the efficiency of Internet ethics education and develop new teaching materials. At the same time, we will also be carrying out academic research projects on Internet ethics and its related legal framework. To achieve this goal, the Internet Ethics Promotion will be comprised of an advisory group and committees for dealing with such affairs as operations and academics. Of these committees, the academic committee, in particular, is anticipated to gain outstanding results from its research as more than 80 professors in various fields of study, including not only IT but also law, ethics and other social sciences have been taking part. An Internet ethics promotion fund In order to effectively promote the Internet ethics, it is essential to have financial support. This is an extremely important issue and should be carefully approached by seeking the wisdom of many people. Therefore, I can only express my point of view. Companies related with the running of the Internet can largely be divided into three groups - portal operators, telecom service providers and content providers. These companies, with revenues ranging from tens to hundreds of billion won, are gaining profits by undertaking operations based on the Internet. Of course, it is difficult to say that all of their revenues are made from their operations through the Internet. However, it is my judgment that a sizable part of their revenues are either directly or indirectly related to the Internet. Therefore, I think that the contributions these companies can make for promoting Internet ethics are similar to traffic congestion fees motorists are charged with for improving traffic conditions. In the cyber world of the Internet, too, the outcome made by these companies that have played a central role, it is necessary to have education on Internet ethics just like the education for traffic safety. Like the building of traffic signs and systems, it is necessary to have Internet ethics and provide related education so that anyone on the Internet can be attentive to others with respect. Therefore, there arises a need from the standpoint of social responsibility for these companies to invest part of their profits in the form of a promotion fund for the securing of long-term profitability through the untarnished Internet and the fostering of majestic cyber citizens.

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