Ethical aspects linked to cyberspace: the ideologies of the web


The ethics of web culture are based on the following principles: unlimited and unrestricted freedom of information, confidentiality, general availability, quality of information, absence of prejudice, limitation of excessive use of web resources and the principle of inviolability of intellectual property.

The effective implementation of these principles is possible thanks to a number of institutional measures: the formulation of various codes of ethics, which confirm the rights and obligations of the participants in the virtual interaction, and the creation of an institution of ‘intranet self-regulatory bodies.

The intranet is the private network of the company which is completely isolated from the external network (Internet) in terms of the services offered (for example via LAN), thus remaining for internal use only, possibly communicating with the external network and with other networks via appropriate systems (TCP / IP protocol, also extended to WAN and VPN connections) and associated protection (eg firewall).

The relevance of the research subject characterizes the degree of its scientific development; determines the subject of the research; formulates goals and objectives; reveals scientific novelty, as well as the theoretical and practical significance of the ethical purposes of communication, and provides data on the approval of the results obtained.

Virtual communication as an object of philosophical and ethical analysis reveals the essence and specificity of the regulation of virtual communication.

Virtual communication can be defined as a special form of channel-based interaction for receiving and transmitting information. Therefore, its main distinguishing feature is mediation and to a large extent depends on its functionality, which determines its qualitative originality.

Unlike most traditional forms of communication, virtual communication is characterized by distance and a high degree of permeability: a person located anywhere in the world can become a participant. Virtual communication therefore has a comprehensive intercultural nature, and inevitably leads to a collision in the process of interaction of normative orientations of values ​​of different cultures and, consequently, to the unification of the rules and norms governing communication processes.

The ability to provide information to a very large audience all over the world makes virtual communication akin to mass communication of information. This means that any user can take an active part in it, thus becoming not only a receiver, but also a sender of messages.

Due to machine mediation, most forms of virtual communication are characterized by characteristics such as anonymity (understood as the anonymity of a dialogue in which subjects do not introduce themselves to each other), which, combined with the possibility of disconnecting at any time, leads to a decrease in psychological risk in the process of ordinary communication in which there is a maior dictated by the circumstances of work, wealth, class, fame and public fame, age, etc.

Therefore, in the process of virtual communication, it becomes possible to satisfy usually repressed urges and impulses, which, so to speak, cause marginal behavior. When faced with a subject that we do not know and that we do not look in the eye, there are more possibilities to pass judgment without conditional mediation.

In addition, the consequence of anonymity is also the risk of a lack of reliable information about each other between communicants. Thus, during virtual communication, there is a permanent construction of the image of the virtual counterpart (often attributing to it characteristics that it does not have in reality), and rules of interaction with it. In the process of virtual communication there is a permanent construction of the personality of the communicator: the specificity of virtual interaction allows a person to create any impression of himself, to wear any mask and to play any role – in other words, to experiment (play with others) by pretending to be an identity that he does not have or by imposing one capable of asserting himself.

It is no coincidence that most of the participants in the virtual interaction use pseudonyms (“nicknames”): the name change marks a symbolic rejection of a real person and an exit from real everyday society.

Since in a situation of virtual interaction, the factors that form and maintain social inequality in the real world are initially absent (virtual subjects have no body, which means that they have no gender, age, ethnicity, nationality), virtual communication is fundamentally a non-status in nature, virtual communication is fundamentally a non-status in nature – and the only criterion of social effectiveness on the Internet are the personal qualities and communication skills of the participant in the interaction (first and foremost, fluency in written speech, but not writing only if some people view audio conferencing as communication, as video usually does fear to those who should be shown).

The blurring of real roles and statuses, the elimination of spatial barriers and geographic borders and, finally, the deconstruction of the subjects of interaction themselves make it difficult for certain social institutions to control virtual communication. Another important feature of virtual communication is therefore its non-institutionalism, which is inevitably accompanied by the uncertainty of the social rules and norms governing the behavior of people in this area.

The above characteristics leave an imprint in the social relationships established in a virtual environment, thus contributing to the creation of a particular cyberspace ethos, and largely predetermine both the nature of the web ethos and the problems to which it owes. to face.

The main postulate of Internet ideology is the proclamation of the independence of cyberspace vis-à-vis all state structures and institutions. It is argued that the global network is a completely self-regulating environment that is resistant to all outside influences and is not subject to coercive control and regulation and, therefore, should only be built in accordance with moral laws established by users. Internet, but not with legal ones recognized in real society. Internet ideology is therefore extremely liberal and its leitmotif can be considered as the slogan proclaimed by hackers: “Information wants to be free”.

Internet ideology exists in three versions, which can be conditionally referred to as radical-anarchist, liberal-democratic, and liberal-economic. Followers of the radical-anarchist version of web libertarianism tend to see the Internet as an “electronic frontier”, that is, the last unregulated area of ​​human life, which must therefore be protected from all restrictions. whether external or internal.

However, it is evident that, although attractive, the idea of ​​an “electronic frontier” as an area of ​​unlimited and unconstrained freedom seems entirely utopian since, in practice, such freedom can easily turn into arbitrary. or – on the contrary – as a means of controlling power which, in turn, claims to fear the aforementioned adepts so that they themselves are more exposed, in order to better attack and hit them.

According to the liberal democratic version of the ideology of the web, the Internet should be seen as a means of building a new “digital democracy”, that is to say a democracy enriched by the possibilities of information and communication technologies. communication.

This vision is reflected in another common metaphor that describes the Internet as a kind of “electronic agora”, that is, a virtual place where people have the right to express any opinion without fear of censorship. To offer everyone this unique opportunity, but also – arguably more importantly – to weaken the government’s monopoly on exclusive decision-making on all important matters relating to the life of society by making political processes open and transparent, so that ‘they are available for analysis, examination and correction.

At the same time, the idea of ​​“digital democracy” is contradicted by the fact that the Internet is currently far from generalized. Even in wealthy industrialized countries, there are various economic, socio-cultural, gender and educational restrictions that make Internet access a privilege for a few (this phenomenon is called the “digital divide”). It would therefore be too early to consider the Internet as an environment for the functioning of digital democracy: the Internet has great democratic potential, which is not yet fully exploited.

Finally, the proponents of the liberal-economic version of the ideology of the web, the closest to classical liberalism, maintain that the development of information and communication technologies must lead above all to the creation of a “market”. electronics ”absolutely free of any state regulation.

It is in the economic independence of the State that the theorists of this approach see the guarantee of the development of fair market competition and of private initiative. However, on closer inspection, it turns out that the idea of ​​establishing fair market competition in global computer networks is nothing more than a common myth. Rather, the Internet creates unique, oligopolistic economic structures that have little to do with a free “electronic market”.

Moreover, the very logic of the development of the Internet contradicts the ideology of the “electronic market”, which is at the mercy of private entrepreneurs. This shows that the liberal-economic version of web libertarianism is internally contradictory: it is obvious that the key principle of web ideology – the principle of unlimited and unlimited freedom of information – is hardly compatible with the principle of inviolability of the private property which underlies the economy liberalism.

Analysis of modern versions of Internet ideologies therefore shows that all of them, as is characteristic of all “-ism” ideologies, are in one way or another utopian, as they tend to over-idealize cyberspace. At the same time, their importance should not be underestimated: they quite adequately express the attitude of the inhabitants of the virtual world.

This allows us to affirm that the only “real” basis of Internet ethics is the inviolability of the freedom of personal information proclaimed by the libertarianism of the web, which acquires the status of an unconditional moral imperative in this system of ‘opinions.

Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and expert in international relations, who is the chairman of the International World Group. In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori Chair in Peace and Regional Cooperation. Professor Valori also holds Chairs in Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and Peking University in China. Among his many distinctions from countries and institutions around the world, Professor Valori is Honorable of the Academy of Sciences of the Institut de France, as well as Chevalier Grand-Croix and Chevalier du Travail of the Italian Republic.


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