Prof. Edwin Otto
An Ethical Issue in Information Systems: Censorship
Why is it important to have Ethics in Information Systems? “Information is a source of power and, increasingly, the key to prosperity among those with access to it” (Lynch, n.d.). As a result of the progress in information systems it involves social and political parallelism. Information and electronic systems influence all levels of government, leadership, workplace, and individual’s private lives to such an extent that even people without access to these systems are affected in significant ways by them. Furthermore ethical and legal decisions are essential in order to balance the needs and rights of everyone.
“As in other new technological arenas, legal decisions lag behind technical developments. Ethics fill the gap as people negotiate how the use of electronic information should proceed. Ethics include moral choices made by individuals in relation to the rest of the community, standards of acceptable behavior, and rules governing members of a profession” (Lynch, n.d.). One of the biggest issues relating to information systems includes control of and access to information also known as censorship. This issue encompasses information networks, databases, and even countries’ political and socio economical views.
“Censorship is the control of the influx of information and ideas in a society according to Pillai” (2012). Others define censorship as suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," to society and when it happens some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others” (What is censorship?, 2006).
When censorship is carried out by the government is considered unconstitutional because it violates the right to have freedom of expression. When is conducted by private pressure groups it is with the intent to misuse it and to control people.
American society has been uncertain about censorship being good or bad in general. On one hand, American history holds examples of apparent government censorship, from the 1873 Comstock Law to the 1996 Communications Decency Act. On the other hand, the allegiance of having a vision and assertion is profoundly embedded in our souls, but sustained by the First Amendment, and supported by a long line of Supreme Court decisions.
“The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment's protection of artistic expression very broadly. It extends not only to books, theatrical works and paintings, but also to posters, television, music videos and comic books; whatever the human creative impulse produces” (What is censorship?, 2006).
“Violence, bans and seizure of content are just some of the methods used to directly censor and suppress people and their ideas” (Censorship, violence and press freedom, n.d). There are no excuses to justify censorship or any of its forms. Censorship has been used to compromise freedom of speech, to withhold information from society, to control people and to hide the abuse of human rights amongst some of the negative effects it has created. In some countries it has led to the wrong image being perceived by the public, for example the Religious group Taliban. This group abuses censorship within their country to coerce population. Another example is the association of censorship to dictatorship and how it is used to promote flattering images and remove negative information that may make people aware of the truth. “Censorship in all its forms is often unjustifiable and is used simply to stop truths or ideas from emerging which can draw attention to powerful people or governments, or undermine ideologies” (Censorship, violence and press freedom, n.d.).
“As James Madison, wrote, it is often prudent to permit some abuse of freedom of expression in order to ensure that…