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Moral and social issues

Some effects of the development of information technology have given people cause for concern.

The Internet and freedom of speech

The Internet is a vast source of information but it can also be used to peddle pornography, con people out of money, invade people’s privacy with unwanted advertising, and make it easier for criminals to organise their activities.

However, it is not the case that anyone can post anything over the Internet. For example:

  • The Chinese Government heavily censors its citizens' use of the Internet.
  • Libel (written defamation of someone's character) laws apply equally well to the Internet.
  • Copyright [copyright: gives the creator of an original piece of work control over its publication, distribution and adaptation ] law is being actively used to suppress websites [website: a web page or group of web pages hosted on one web server and viewed in a web browser ], for example, many file sharing [file sharing: the act of sharing files over the Internet ] websites have been shutdown over the years.

Arguments for control

  • To prevent illegal material being readily available.
  • To prevent young children accessing unsuitable material.
  • To ensure copyright laws are maintained.

Arguments against control

  • Unsuitable material is easily available in other ways.
  • Control would cost money and users would have to pay.
  • Control would be very difficult to enforce.

Back to Risks and implications of ICT index

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