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Teaching the Ethics
of Information and
Information Technology
Emily Miller-Francisco
Southern Oregon University
Online Northwest
January 21, 2005
• Goals for this presentation
• 3 Scenarios
• 1 Caveat
ACRL Information Literacy Standards
• Standard One: Determine the extent of information needed
• Standard Two: Access the needed information effectively and
• Standard Three: Evaluate information and its sources critically
• Standard Four: Incorporate selected information into one’s
knowledge base
• Standard Five: Use information effectively to accomplish a specific
• Standard Six: Understand the economic, legal, and
social issues surrounding the use of information, and
access and use information ethically and legally
Goals for the Course
• Demonstrate an understanding of major
issues in information ethics such as free
speech, copyright, and privacy.
• Demonstrate an understanding of how
technology impacts each of these issues.
• Demonstrate an understanding of a variety
of ethical approaches and how they can be
utilized to discuss information ethics issues.
• Demonstrate an understanding of the legal
context within which debate about
information issues takes place.
Ethical Frameworks
• Utilitarian Ethics
• Duty/Deontological Ethics
• Virtue Ethics
Free Speech and Censorship
First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably
to assemble, and to petition the
government for a redress of
Free Speech and Censorship
Types of censorship:
• Sexual
• Religious
• Political
• Social
• Violence
• Etc.
Free Speech and Censorship
Different levels of
• Print
• Broadcast media
• Common carriers
Free Speech and Censorship
Legal limits to free speech:
• Defamation
• Obscenity
• Fighting Words
• Gag rules
• Security Issues
• Etc.
Free Speech and Censorship
Legal History of Internet Filtering:
• Communications Decency Act (1996)
(struck down in 1997)
• Child Online Protection Act (1998)
(remanded twice by the Supreme Court)
• Children’s Internet Protection Act (2000)
(upheld in 2003)
Free Speech and Censorship
Is there such a thing as free speech?
And is it a good thing?
Intellectual Property
Types of Protection:
• Copyright:
Fixed expression
• Patents:
Inventions & processes
• Trademarks:
Logos, designs, etc. that
point to a company
• Trade secrets, publicity,
Intellectual Property
Copyright History:
• Printing Press (1400s)
• Statute of Anne (1710)
• U.S. Constitution
• Copyright Acts of 1790, 1909,
and 1976
• Sonny Bono Extension Act
Intellectual Property
Balancing copyright:
• Fair Use
– Purpose/character of the use
– Nature of the original work
– Amount borrowed in relation to
the whole
– Effect on market value
• Public Domain
– Waited 14 years (+14 years
renewable) in 1790
– Now wait for the life of the author
+ 70 years
Intellectual Property
Impact of Technology:
• Boundary confusion
(e.g. software: patent or copyright?)
• New kinds of copyright
(e.g. Tasini v. New York Times)
• New ability to control
(e.g. digital rights management and licensing)
• New participants
(e.g. Napster)
• New attempts to respond:
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998)
Intellectual Property
Impact of Technology & the Quest for Balance:
• Open Source movement
o Copyleft and the GNU Project (Richard Stallman)
o “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” by Eric Raymond
o Linux
• Other responses to copyright
o The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig
o “The Economy of Ideas” by John Perry Barlow
• Creative Commons at
Intellectual Property
•Ideas versus their Expression
•Ethics versus law
•Our little incident(s)
• Freedom from intrusion
• Control of information
about yourself
• Freedom from surveillance
Definition from Sara Baase
• “Right to Privacy” (1890)
by Warren & Brandeis
• Watkins v. U.S. (1957):
government can’t
expose private affairs
without justification
• Griswold v. Connecticut (1965):
Right to use contraceptives
• Justice Douglas: Privacy is a right that
can be derived from the “penumbras
and emanations” of the Bill of Rights:
 free speech
 no soldiers in the house
 no unreasonable searches & seizures
 right against self-incrimination
 the rights listed in the Constitution aren’t
the only rights
• Led to other cases like Roe v. Wade
(1973) & Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
• Katz v. U.S. (1967):
– requires government to have
a warrant to perform wiretapping
– people can have a “reasonable expectation
of privacy” even in public places
• Now: USA Patriot Act (2001)
– expands the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act of 1978 and allows wiretapping for
domestic crimes as long as the information is
relevant to the investigation
Also statutory law:
e.g. Privacy Act (1974):
Gives a citizen the right to
review & amend their
government records and to sue
for violations of that right
Impact of technology:
• Marketing: Consumer
online privacy,
datamining, spam, etc.
• Surveillance issues
(online and off)
• Health/Genetic privacy
Privacy & Security
Impact of technology:
• Hackers and viruses
• Cyberstalking
• Cyberterrorism
Teaching the Ethics
of Information and
Information Technology
Emily Miller-Francisco
Southern Oregon University
Online Northwest
January 21, 2005