CIRCA:Ethics Codes and Charters (excerpts)


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  • Raphael Capurro and Intercultural Ethics
“one main task of intercultural ethics is to foster cultural identities not through their isolation or mere addition or even collision but through a process of communication being held more and more on the basis of the digital “infosphere.”” (11)
- Consider the digital divide.
- Consider the necessary conditions for dialogue (Geoffrey).
Does digitization reproduce inequalities?
“The digital globalisation not only reinforces and expands upon the divide between the digital haves and have-nots but also makes more explicit and even deepens existing inequalities” (Warschauer 2002) – quoted in Capurro on page 12.
“Intercultural information ethics matters not only in order to overcome the isolation of moral traditions with regard to the Internet but also in order to provide a platform for pragmatic action, for the kind of declarations and (quasi-) legal agreements that can be used as a framework for preservation and fostering of cultural differences in the new digital environment. It is still an open question how far these activities could and should be coordinated by an international agency or by one of the existing UN bodies or by some other kind of institution” (18).
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (pg. 15 in Capurro)
- What about the freedom to express non-expression? Sacred indigenous burial rights and ceremonies, for example.
- “hovering around the idea of equality” (Keavy)
- Right to publishing—where does it come from? What about academic responsibility and integrity? Where did the language of “[academic] rights” come in?
- Negative (no one can stop you from doing it but they can sue you after) and positive rights (right to shelter; society has to take some initiative to ensure these rights are met (Geoffrey))
  • World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2003)
1. We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
3. We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration. We also reaffirm that democracy, sustainable development, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as good governance at all levels are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We further resolve to strengthen respect for the rule of law in international as in national affairs.
- Enlightenment philosophy
- Otherness of the “other”
- Should some things remain incommensurable?
15. In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.
42. Intellectual Property protection is important to encourage innovation and creativity in the Information Society; similarly, the wide dissemination, diffusion, and sharing of knowledge is important to encourage innovation and creativity. Facilitating meaningful participation by all in intellectual property issues and knowledge sharing through full awareness and capacity building is a fundamental part of an inclusive Information Society.
- Recall Alina Ng’s article: “When Users are Authors: Authorship in the Age of Digital Media” which presents the argument that digital media enables greater creativity; Ng celebrates the “remix culture”.
  • World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2004)
52. Cultural diversity is the common heritage of humankind. The Information Society should be founded on and stimulate respect for cultural identity, cultural and linguistic diversity, traditions and religions, and foster dialogue among cultures and civilizations. The promotion, affirmation and preservation of diverse cultural identities and languages as reflected in relevant agreed United Nations documents including UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, will further enrich the Information Society.
- Consider the notion of global inheritance.
54. The preservation of cultural heritage is a crucial component of identity and self- understanding of individuals that links a community to its past. The Information Society should harness and preserve cultural heritage for the future by all appropriate methods, including digitisation.
  • Charter of Civil Rights for a Sustainable Knowledge Society (2003)
1. Knowledge is the heritage and the property of humanity and is thus free. Knowledge represents the reservoir from which new knowledge is created. Knowledge must therefore remain permanently accessible to the public. Limitations on public access such as copyrights and patents must be the exception. Commercial exploitation of knowledge conflicts with the interest of society in knowledge as a public good. Knowledge as a common good must have a higher status in the hierarchy of social values than the protection of private claims.
- Intermediate communities are not included (families, neighborhoods, churches, etc)? It’s set up as the individual vs. the global.
- Every social organization is a compromise (Geoffrey)?
- public good vs. private good (does the individual have a certain number of rights that belong to them no matter how much it would benefit the public good—human rights enters in) – what the king wants, what God wants vs. what the individual wants – the nation-state (Weber?) and the use of force for the common good?

9. The right to privacy is a human right and is essential for free and self-determined human development in the knowledge society.

  • A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (John Perry Barlow 1996)
- Response to the Communications Decency Act (1996) which sought to regulate (pornographic) content on the internet.
“I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you [Governments of the Industrial World] seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.”
- Failed argument that the internet will bypass censorship (consider China).
Interesting idea of (dis)embodiment:
“Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.”
“Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.”
- Turner and the new American frontier – how you organize on the frontier is different from how you organize within the mainland (no-man’s land where anything goes) – strong libertarian philosophy around the internet: no rules and (governments and/or legislative bodies) stay away! (Geoffrey)
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