A Charter for Citizens
of the Global Information Society
Info.T.EC Solutions Pty Ltd
P.O. Box K21 Haymarket, SYDNEY, NSW 2000, AUSTRALIA
Telephone: +61 2-93269430 Fax +61 2-2181508 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student, University of Canberra, CANBERRA, ACT 2600, AUSTRALIA
New ethical issues related to the global information society have emerged. Extraterritoriality and legal ambiguity are consequences of the global information society and cyberspace. This discussion paper summarises key ethical issues that need to be addressed in a 'Charter for Citizens of the Global Information Society'. For each issue the main implications for citizens of nations and of cyberspace are discussed and Statements of Principle are developed. These Principles, set out as a Charter for Citizens, are intended for use as: guidelines by law makers and decision-makers in government and industry; an ethical framework for possible future international legislation; and as benchmarks for citizens and cybercitizens in assessing their rights and obligations in relation to the global information society and cyberspace.
Global Society, Information Society,
Charter, Principles, Democracy, Cyberspace
The power of integrated information
and communication technologies to collect, store, combine, manipulate
and disseminate data to and from any part of the world now affects
every individual, regardless of their personal involvement with
cyberspace. Technologies like space-based surveillance, satellite
communication, direct broadcasting and portable equipment allow
information collection and flow to transcend national and geographical
High speed computers combined with
massive data storage capacity, an unparalleled ability to integrate
complex information systems and the power to digitise and analyse
data from audio, visual and other media provide the potential
for total mastery over the information of all people and all nations.
"Just as nuclear dominance was the key to coalition leadership
in the old era, information dominance will be the key in the information
age" (Nye and Owens 1996, p27).
A global information society affects the balance of power and
moves control from within nations.
In this new global information society
"cyberspace" is defined as "the electronic environment
established by and/or within the information and communications
technologies and infrastructure and associated peripheral equipment".
It is a non-specific, fluctuating, separate space where transactions
and events occur outside the jurisdiction of the laws of individual
nations. Individuals, organisations and governments increasingly
engage with this electronic environment and are affected by it
directly or indirectly. Indirect effects of cyberspace include
unjust denial of access for individuals to finance or employment
due to inaccurate electronic data, and threats to physical security
and well-being due to activities like "net stalking".
Interaction in cyberspace may involve citizens and technical infrastructure
from numerous nations concurrently. Global laws do not exist.
Global mechanisms for governing the "cyber realm" have
not been established. The result is extraterritoriality and legal
"Society" in the Oxford
Dictionary means "a social mode of life, the customs and
organisation of a civilised nation or an association of persons
united by a common aim or interest or principle". Therefore
cyberspace has citizens - citizens that may be individuals, organisations
or governments. And citizenship of a nation and of cyberspace
can be concurrent. Rights and obligations relate to roles both
as citizens of a particular nation and of cyberspace, with an
over-riding responsibility to citizenship of the global society.
But, what is cybercitizenship in the global information society?
The Oxford Dictionary defines "citizen" as "a freeman
of a city or member of a state". Traditionally a citizen
is acknowledged by the law of a nation as a member of that particular
country and subject to its laws. When citizenship is a local,
physical concept the obligations and rights associated with being
in a defined geographical area are specified. But in the information
society individuals, organisations (including corporations) and
governments can act and interact outside geographical constraints.
Rights and obligations are not clearly defined either for individuals
or collectives. So far it is established only that cybercitizens
must pay suppliers of access services, obey the rules of their
geographic society related to the internet and global information
and observe "netiquette".
"Democracy" refers to the
right of individuals to influence by lawful means issues affecting
their lives and well-being. This paper assumes that electronic
information and cyberspace should empower citizens and increase
opportunities to influence and participate in the government of
nations and cyberspace. We need to avoid the creation of "cyberslaves"-
those who use cyberspace, but are unaware of the issues and risks
(eg. losing money if their cyberbank becomes insolvent) and have
no influence on decisions and events that impact on them. Cybercitizens
are powerless unless they are able to participate in the governing
of the global commons.
Options for setting out the rights and obligations of citizens can be listed in order of enforceability:
Because of problems related to establishing
a universal ethical regime in diverse cultures (Berleur and d'Udekem-Gevers
1996) and the nature of the global information society, the establishment
of "principles" is considered the most appropriate form
for setting out the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
The Principles set out in this paper
are intended to form the basis of a Charter for Citizens of the
Global Information Society. The Principles are intended for use
as: guidelines by law makers and decision-makers in government
and industry; an ethical framework for possible future international
legislation; and as benchmarks for citizens and cybercitizens
in assessing their rights and obligations in relation to the global
information society and cyberspace.
2. ASSUMPTIONS AND METHODOLOGY
Principles implicitly and explicitly
assume values. The values espoused in these Principles reflect
the experience of sophisticated users of integrated information
and communications technologies and cyberspace. Globalisation
and transborder data flow has occurred so fast that few nation
states have debated and/or understood the consequences. Maritime
nations developed laws of the high seas under similar circumstances.
The various declarations of the United
Nations and statements like the OECD Principles are based on the
premise that some values are universal. International Protocols
assume particular actions do not promote international well-being
(eg. actions degrading air quality). This paper assumes that all
individuals in all societies have the rights set out in the Declaration
of Human Rights. The Charter aims to enhance the well being of
all citizens throughout the world. The objectives of the Principles
are to promote "a social sustainable development" (Berleur
and d'Udekem-Gevers 1996, p11). It is acknowledged that despite
the precedents for statements of 'conviction' with international
relevance, if Principles are to be universal and applied internationally,
ethical and cultural diversity must be recognised. Situations
and circumstances vary. The Preamble to the Charter therefore
provides for "justification and exceptions".
This paper was prepared using the following methodology:
3.1 Justification and Exceptions
In a diverse, complex world it would
be unrealistic to establish a set of Principles relating to a
global information society that apply to all situations and are
acceptable to all nations. But in order to protect citizens, any
exceptions must be justified and reflect the level of risk to
society. Exceptions must not interfere with universally accepted
human rights. "Exceptions to the Principles must be clearly
stated, made in accordance with law, proportional to the necessities
giving rise to the exception, and compatible with the requirements
of a democratic society" (Australian Privacy Charter Council
1994, Principle 1). Not every law of every nation is a "just"
law. Not every nation is democratic.
Preamble to the Charter: Exceptions
to the Principles set out in this Charter must be justified, clearly
stated, made in accordance with law, proportional to the necessities
giving rise to the exception, and compatible with the requirement
to enhance human rights.
3.2 Ethics and Protection from Cybercrime
Cyberspace can obviously be used
for good or evil. Misuse and abuse of electronic information and
cyberspace ranges from 'unethical behaviours' to 'criminal activities'.
"Criminal exploitation is clearly a problem, and there are
other concerns too; for example, the norms of human interaction
are less likely to be observed in such environments.. Electronic
violence is in its infancy, but viruses, rumour-mongering, hate-mail
and mailbox bombardment are all describable phenomena, and may
graduate from art-forms to techniques" (Clarke 1996 WWWa).
Although it is recognised that currently
"an international agreement on ethics... is unachievable"
(Berleur and d'Udekem-Gevers 1996, pp4-5) the International Federation
for Information Processing (IFIP) Ethics Task Group's analysis
of 30 codes of member computer societies revealed "a consensus
on some shared principles" (Berleur 1996b, p242). Respect
for privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility is required
by most codes. To retain the credibility of information, integrity
and quality of digital data must be protected by individuals,
organisations and governments. Safeguarding the accuracy of information
is a core responsibility of individual and collective cybercitizens.
False and inaccurate information in the information age can be
considered as equivalent to counterfeit currency.
Even though the laws of nations do
not keep pace with developments in criminal activity related to
the global information society and cyberspace, and the concepts
of ethics and instruments designed to deal with cybercrime vary
with culture and type of behaviour they are intended to encourage
or prevent, cybercitizens are aware of "right and wrong".
There appears to be broad consensus that actions that would be
crimes outside the electronic environment should be considered
as cybercrime (eg. sabotage, forgery, fraud, theft, espionage)
(Berleur and Brunnstein 1996b, p260-1). There are well recognised
statements of agreement related to information and communications
security (eg. OECD Guidelines for the Security of Information
Systems). The main risks to cyberspace security relate to insertion
of false data; release or insertion of harmful software programs;
destruction of valuable data and programs; manipulation and/or
disruption of computer and communication systems; and misuse by,
for example, information brokers, private detectives, foreign
embassies and organised crime. Cybercrime must be punished in
the same way as all other criminal activity and be subject to
the laws of nations.
In addition to ethics directly related
to electronic information and cyberspace, the information technology
and communication industries need to consider issues like the
environment (eg. manufacture and disposal of equipment, use of
electricity and other resources) and to promote sustainable economic
and social development.
Principle 1: Individual and collective
cybercitizens must protect the accuracy and integrity of digital
information, adhere to all relevant ethical principles, codes
and guidelines and uphold the legitimate laws of nations.
3.3 Equity of Access to Cyberspace and Electronic Information
Equity of access to cyberspace is
of international concern. The "information rich and information
poor" are familiar concepts that apply to individuals, communities,
organisations and nations. Access to cyberspace is determined
by access to technical infrastructure and electronic information.
Even if access to cyberspace is achieved, access to electronic
information is not guaranteed.
a. Access to technical infrastructure and technology
Access to cyberspace depends on the
availability and accessibility of technical infrastructure, access
to appropriate information and communication technology, and technical
skill. Some countries and groups within nations (eg. rural communities)
lack suitable technical infrastructure. Access by some individuals,
communities and organisations is limited because of the costs
of information technology and communications. Recognising these
facts, the United States Federal-State Board on Universal Service,
set up under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, developed draft
recommendations to support programs to ensure access to telecommunications
for low income consumers and discounts to key community groups
(Benton 1996 WWW). Verbal accounts of experiments indicate that
linking members of disadvantaged groups to the internet appears
to have positive affects on self-esteem.
Discrimination on grounds like sex,
age, race, religion or physical disability limits equality of
access to cyberspace technology. Equity of access to cyberspace
among all citizens should be a goal of education systems. Issues
like poverty and illiteracy have obvious relevance to access and
realistically other basic human rights may be more significant
in some countries (eg. freedom from hunger).
b. Access to electronic information
Information available on the internet
is voluminous, frequently difficult to find, peripatetic, transitory,
often fragmented and of varied quality. Equity of access to meaningful
electronic information depends on the acquisition and transfer
of sophisticated search skills including the ability to discriminate
among sources and knowledge of electronic conventions and practices.
"There is every danger that
pricing information services and placing information and its associated
technologies in the market place will ensure the development of
an information poor group within society who are unable to capitalise
on the benefits of freely available information" (Burton
1992, p89). The social impact of any "bit tax" (a tax
on information sent over the internet) needs to be carefully assessed.
Any trend to charging for access to information currently available
free of charge in the public domain, via the internet or published
in books that can be accessed free of charge through libraries
would exacerbate the disadvantage of those unable to pay.
Governments are major collectors
of information. As governments are funded by citizens, "Non-personal
government information should be freely available unless someone
in authority can show it should be restricted. Technology should
be used to distribute information to citizens not simply to record
information about them"(Burton
1992, p89). But the trend of governments to privatise functions
and outsource activities means that information formerly held
by government and available publicly is no longer accessible.
It is argued that some databases held by private sector organisations
should be freely accessible due to the "public interest"
(eg. toxic emissions and chemical 'hot spots'). But the World
Intellectual Property Organisation has prepared a Treaty that
proposes new property rights to database owners. If adopted, this
Treaty may restrict access to information currently available
in the public domain (World Intellectual Property Organization
Principle 2: Nations should aim
at equity of access to electronic information and cyberspace for
all their citizens without discrimination.
3.4 Freedom from Surveillance and Rights to Privacy
Principle 3 of the Australian Privacy Charter states that people have a right to privacy and "the right to conduct their affairs free from surveillance or fear of surveillance". Rights to privacy are well established in the OECD Privacy Principles, national laws, ethical statements and Codes of Practice. Surveillance is defined as "the systematic observation or recording of one or more people's behaviour, communications or personal information" (Australian Privacy Charter Council 1994). The use of technology for surveillance has three aspects:
a. Surveillance through information.
b. Surveillance of communications in cyberspace.
c. Mass surveillance using information
and communication technologies.
a. Surveillance through information
"One stop shopping" and
integration of data obtained by large entities, including government
and commercial conglomerates, encourages merging of information
provided for different purposes. Examples include marketing agreements
like "fly buy" schemes and "loyalty cards"
that offer discounts as rewards in return for details of purchases
being recorded to provide customer profiles. Efficiency benefits
may flow from exchange of data and integration of databases but
it is essential that exchange of personal information takes place
only with the informed consent of individuals. Individuals must
have the option of continuing to deal separately with organisations
and business units if they prefer. A key privacy principle is
that information should generally not be used for purposes other
than those for which it was collected (Australian Privacy Charter
Council 1994, Principle 15). Great care needs to be taken if information
is used for secondary purposes (eg. definitions used by various
government agencies may differ and data provided by individuals
may alter for legitimate reasons). Data-matching schemes have
experienced a range of difficulties due to issues like data accuracy,
integrity, administrative errors and much lower cost-benefit ratios
than claimed at the outset.
Multimedia and convergence of new
technologies allow unprecedented opportunities for invasion of
individual privacy and surveillance of populations or target groups.
When data items held in various formats are combined highly intrusive
personal information is easily assembled and disseminated. Even
if informed consent is given each time personal data is collected
by individual agencies it is unlikely that citizens will be fully
informed about or aware of the detailed profiles that can be obtained
from combined data (eg. linkages of visual images - photo licences,
personal relationships - CCTV, and transactional data - non-anonymous
payment of tolls and transport fares with computer records of
addresses, health and financial data). Surveillance of individuals
through the use of information is not compatible with human rights.
b. Surveillance of communications in cyberspace
Electronic communications can be
monitored electronically using techniques and technology available
in the public domain. Software programs can monitor and trigger
recording of verbal and electronic communications. Powerful search
engines allow internet searches that monitor activities of individuals
including those using news groups. "Cookies" (small
pieces of data that a web server can store with a web browser)
allow tracking of internet users' visits to sites.
There is debate about the right of
government and law enforcement agencies to intercept electronic
communications and monitor internet activities. Some enforcement
agencies are concerned about the use of electronic money (e-cash)
and its potential for money laundering and tax evasion; others
need to intercept communications among criminal groups. The need
to balance law enforcement requirements with rights to privacy
and freedom from surveillance is acknowledged, provided the response
is commensurate with the level of risk to the community. Law enforcement
agencies in most countries already have powers to tap telephone
communications of individuals under certain conditions which are
usually set out in law and clearly defined. Interception is usually
justified during the process of obtaining a warrant or approval
from an independent body. Monitoring private communications at
random, or in accordance with pre-established automated triggers,
is not conducive to freedom or democracy. Interferences with privacy
must be justified.
There is debate about the responsibility
of internet service providers to monitor the content of material
in cyberspace and to prevent certain transactions (eg. theft of
data and risks to security) and transfer of "unacceptable"
material (eg. child pornography). It is argued that making internet
providers responsible for content is like making telephone service
providers responsible for all voice and data carried on their
networks. Will the internet industry, as a whole, develop meaningful
methods of self regulation which clearly allocates responsibility
for content? Will this be acceptable to all governments and to
all citizens? A draft Internet Code of Practice prepared by the
Internet Industry Association of Australia aims "to establish
general standards of behaviour for those involved in the Internet
industry" (Internet Industry Association of Australia 1996
c. Mass surveillance using information and communication technologies
Mass surveillance incorporates the
concept of data capture and storage of information about citizens
on a random basis. Mass surveillance creates a culture of fear
among citizens. The use of information and communications technology
for surveillance of individuals not involved in or suspected of
illegal activities should not be permitted. Satellite surveillance
of citizens of sovereign countries without approval or justification
can be considered as a form of invasion. Video cameras used in
public areas without warning and storage of images of citizens
obtained without justification should not be permitted. The growing
use of CCTV in many countries on the grounds of providing security
and protection against crime may tempt operators to store images
- "just in case". Mass surveillance using techniques
like automatic streaming through databases is very difficult to
Principle 3: Citizens have the
right to privacy and the right to conduct their affairs free from
surveillance or fear of surveillance.
3.5 Freedom of Expression and Opinion
Cyberspace ignores national boundaries.
"Cyberspace is a place where the denizens are knowledgeable,
independent and uppity. Found there is a new type of non-organisation...cybertribes:
like-minded citizens linked electronically by their key interest.
They empower one another. They validate one another. Eager to
find one another and communicate, they are also eager to influence
real events.." (Draper 1995 p730). It is important that cybertribes
be permitted to develop. The concept of planet earth requires
the free exchange of information, expression and opinion.
Individuals have a moral responsibility
to be tolerant and honest in representing their personal views
and the opinions of others (Merel 1996 WWW). Ideally, honest political
opinions should be able to be expressed freely, without fear.
But this may not be possible in all societies. For this reason
the right to anonymous transactions is sometimes advocated particularly
to protect whistle blowers and witnesses (Clarke 1996 WWWa). Freedom
of expression and free flow of information are required to support
democracy and human rights. (Clarke 1996 WWWa) (Durango
Declaration, 1995 WWW) (Merel 1996 WWW) (Berleur and Brunnstein
1996, p259). There is, however, a need to balance the right to
freedom of expression with the responsibility not to cause harm
to other citizens.
Principle 4: Cybercitizens have
the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the responsibility
to ensure the democratic rights and well-being of all citizens
Cyberspace can be used to facilitate
citizens' involvement in the government of their own country and
to influence world events. The ability to distribute material
widely, cheaply and quickly allows issues to be discussed and
feedback to be returned to the initiator swiftly. Information
and communications technology can be used to facilitate participative
democracy within nations and cyberspace. Electronic 'forms' and
computer analysis allow the responses of large numbers of citizens
to be collated. The Durango Imperatives include calls for designers
and applied research to develop infrastructure, architectures
and technical interfaces that support democratic participation
(Durango 1995 WWW).
If governments and decision-makers
are willing to share power and utilise the internet to allow direct
input by citizens or stakeholders a radical redistribution of
power could occur. In the United States "A national initiative
and referendum movement already underway will allow people to
bypass the Congress, to propose new laws and vote on them directly."
It is predicted that "With secure lines and positive electronic
identification established, ultimately we will see on-line legislative
initiatives and electronic voting, a return to direct democracy"
(Draper 1995, p730). It is particularly important in a period
of significant change that policy development takes place in "the
highest level of participation and (that we)...avoid the emergence
of a two-tier society, (so that)..the information society addresses
the needs of citizens (Laopodis and Fernandez 1995, p2). Unlike
TV and mass media, cyberspace is interactive, provided there is
no interference to prevent free access and distribution of information.
Control of communications and media is frequently an aim of dictatorships.
It is important that the unrestrained characteristics and complex
matrices of the internet are protected.
Principle 5: Cyberspace should
be used to enhance opportunities for democracy within nations
and across national boundaries.
3.7 Diversity of Culture and Ideology
Culture, defined as "the way
we shape our own destiny and make it understandable and practicable
through all the institutions, rituals, means, etc., by which we
regulate our violence" (Corfu97 Call for Papers, 1996) makes
human thinking robust by providing options. Multiculturalism is
a way of understanding, respecting and retaining cultural diversity.
Cultural diversity is as important as biodiversity. Just as we
need access to data from numerous sources to provide perspective
and an opportunity to glean our "truth", we need diversity
in ways of thinking about events.
Technology usage is not neutral.
Information and communication technologies can be used not only
to control information about physical entities, including economically
valuable objects and individuals, it can be used to influence
thinking and behaviours. During the Gulf war dissemination/handling
of news and access of the media to the military was very different
to that during the Vietnam war! Monopolistic ownership and control
of electronic information, cyberspace and the associated information
and communications technology and infrastructure must be avoided.
Principle 6: Cyberspace should
be used to support diversity of culture and ideology.
3.8 Equitable Distribution of Benefits
As in the industrial revolution,
enormous shifts in economic benefit and distribution of wealth
are occurring as the global information society emerges. Obvious
impacts include workforce displacement, continued automation of
information processing and manufacturing, and creation of a new
elite with wealth and power based on ownership of electronic information
and information and communications technology and infrastructure.
"Our new high-tech economy has almost no need for unskilled
workers and it is forcing de-massification of the labour force"
(Draper 1995, p729). To prevent deskilling, equality of access
to knowledge about information and communications technology must
be available. The total time required from the human workforce
to produce a specified quantity of goods and level of services
has reduced. In many nations some labour longer hours while unemployment
increases. Time savings, earning potential and opportunities for
leisure need to be shared among all citizens so that wealth and
quality of life can be distributed more evenly.
The industrial revolution led to
enormous social upheaval in many countries. Social inequalities
and denial of access to the benefits of industrial technology
destabilised some societies and political systems. We must learn
from history. The wealth and benefits of the global information
society should be distributed equitably within and among nations.
Principle 7: All participants
in the global information society, individual, corporate and government,
should aim to distribute the wealth and benefits equitably.
3.9 Ownership of Data
Ownership of data in cyberspace relates
to issues of copyright and intellectual property, rights to acquire,
access and sell data about people, objects and transactions and
transborder flows of data.
a. Copyright and intellectual property.
Ownership of copyright of electronic
material and of intellectual property are issues of international
concern being addressed currently. Protection and rights in cyberspace
should be equivalent to those existing within the country of origin
for non-electronic material, publications and broadcasts.
b. Rights to acquire, access and sell data about people, objects and transactions.
It is argued that computerised data
owned by an organisation belongs to that organisation which has
the right to sell or exchange that data, unless prohibited by
law. The European Commission Directive related to the processing
and movement of personal data (European Directive, 1995) will
help protect EC citizens in some circumstances but it does not
address the issue of ownership rights internationally. Money is
made from the sale of personal information despite the concern
of individuals who believe their privacy has been invaded. If
it was clearly stated in law that personal data is the property
of the data subject, and this person has the sole right to permit
an organisation to use that data for authorised purposes, this
trade in personal information would at least be reduced and at
Ownership of information about objects
and transactions pertaining to a country is a vexed question.
Burton summarises the issue by asking whether information is a
resource or commodity that can be bought and sold on the international
market. The treatment of information as a commodity derives from
"the high visibility of IT costs and the increasing degree
to which information is created and manipulated by IT systems...Third
world countries claim that information is a resource which can
be used for development and that they have a right to control
their individual information resources" (Burton 1992, p59).
Rights to acquire, access and sell data about objects and transactions
within a nation should be determined by the laws of that country.
c. Transborder flows of non-personal data.
Transborder flows of non-personal data include:
a significant part of all the international transactions taking
place: it contributes considerably to the operational efficiency
of multinationals and to export earnings..." (Burton 1992,
p59). Some information held by private organisations is important
to local national governments for understanding their economy.
Who owns the data and who benefits?
National sovereignty and resource
utilisation are affected by transborder collection. (eg. Who owns
remotely sensed data relating to physical resources collected
by satellite surveillance?) Third world countries argue that they
need access to these databases and databanks located primarily
in first world countries as a source of expertise and information
for economic and social development. "Systems are in place
and are transferring and handling information on an international
scale before third world governments (and some of those in the
first world) have an opportunity to react: when they are able
to consider policy, they are faced with entrenched situations
and attitudes which are difficult to change, not least when these
attitudes are held by multinational corporations backed overtly
or covertly by national governments" (Burton 1992, p58).
It is argued that data about the
economy and resources of a country, and data originating in a
country, is owned by that nation and continues to be subject to
its law. Agreement about transborder collection and use of this
data should be negotiated by the collecting/receiving nation or
organisation. Nations should have the right to access and use
data about its economy and resources regardless of where it is
Principle 8: Ownership of personal
data resides with the data subject. Rights to acquire, access
and sell data about objects and transactions within a nation should
be determined by the laws of that country. Agreement about transborder
collection and use of data about the natural, economic and social
resources of a nation should be negotiated by the collecting/receiving
nation or organisation. Nations should have the right to access
and use data about their economy and resources regardless of where
it is stored.
The global information society is
a threat to old social and economic patterns at local and international
levels. Langdon Winner told the Durango Conference "..the
move to computerise and digitise means that many pre-existing
cultural forms have suddenly gone liquid, losing their former
shape as they are retailored for computerised expression. As new
patterns solidify, both useful artefacts and the texture of human
relations that surround them are often much different from what
existed previously" (Durango Declarations 1996 WWW). And
at the international level "The clash between the real and
the virtual realities is rendering ineffectual the edifice of
national implementations of internationally agreed human rights"
(Clarke WWW 1996a). The opportunity for reshaping inequitable,
dysfunctional social and economic patterns has arrived. Faced
with the power of information and communications technology and
the political, economic, social and cultural impact of its use,
a Charter for Citizens relevant to the global society and cyberspace
The Charter for Citizens of the Global
Information Society aims to promote the well being of all citizens
of all nations and of cyberspace. Its Principles aim to establish
the rights and responsibilities of all citizens and those using
electronic information and cyberspace. Although these Principles
are only a beginning, each is designed to address a key issue
arising from the global information society and cyberspace. They
require debate, addition and refinement. But they are a beginning.
THE CHARTER FOR CITIZENS OF THE GLOBAL INFORMATION SOCIETY
This Charter assumes that all individuals of all societies have the rights set out in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It aims to enhance the well being of all citizens throughout the world. The objectives of the Charter are to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and societies, and to promote socially sustainable development of the Global Information Society. Exceptions to the Principles set out in this Charter must be justified, clearly stated, made in accordance with law, proportional to the necessities giving rise to the exception, and compatible with the requirement to enhance human rights.
Principle 1 - Individual and collective cybercitizens must protect the accuracy and integrity of digital information, adhere to all relevant ethical principles, codes and guidelines, and uphold the legitimate laws of nations.
Principle 2 - Nations should aim at equity of access to electronic information and cyberspace for all their citizens without discrimination.
Principle 3 - Citizens have the right to privacy and the right to conduct their affairs free from surveillance or fear of surveillance.
Principle 4 - Cybercitizens have the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the responsibility to ensure the democratic rights and well-being of all citizens are protected.
Principle 5 - Cyberspace should be used to enhance opportunities for democracy within nations and across national boundaries.
Principle 6 - Cyberspace should be used to support diversity of culture and ideology.
Principle 7 - All participants in the global information society, individual, corporate and government, should aim to distribute wealth and benefits equitably.
Principle 8 - Ownership of personal
data resides with the data subject. Rights to acquire, access
and sell data about objects and transactions within a nation should
be determined by the laws of that country. Agreement about transborder
collection and use of data about the natural, economic and social
resources of a nation should be negotiated by the collecting/
receiving nation or organisation. Nations should have the right
to access and use data about their economy and resources regardless
of where it is stored.
Australian Privacy Charter Council (1994) Australian Privacy Charter, Australian Privacy Charter Council, December 1994
Berleur, J. (1996a) "Culture and Democracy Revisited in the Global Information Society - Summary of a WG9.2 Position Paper in "Corfu97 - First Announcement and Call for Papers"
Berleur, J. (1996b) Final Remarks: Ethics, Self-Regulation and Democracy. Ethics of Computing (eds Berleur, J. and Brunnstein, K.) Chapman & Hall 1996 pp241-253
Berleur, J. and Brunnstein, K. Editors (1996) Ethics of Computing, Chapman & Hall 1996
Berleur, J. and d'Udekem-Gevers, M. (1996) Codes of Ethics Within IFIP and Other Computer Societies. Ethics of Computing (eds Berleur, J. and Brunnstein, K.) Chapman & Hall 1996 pp3-15
Burton, P.F. (1992) Information Technology & Society Library Association Publishing, London, 1992
Cameron, J., Clarke, R., Davies, S., Jackson, A., Prentice, M., Regan, B. (1992) Ethics, Vulnerability & Information Technology. Information Processing 92 Vol. 11 Education and Society (ed. Aitken, R.) Proceedings of the IFIP 12th World Computer Congress North Holland, 1992 pp344-350
Draper, M (1995) Beyond Cyberspace: the Real Promise of Virtual Reality. Vital Speeches of the Day vol. 61 issue 23 Sept. 15, 1995 pp726-733
European Directive (1995) "Directive 95/-/EC of the European Parliament and the Council On the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal Data and On the Free Movement of such Data". 2 February 1995
Laopodis, V. and Fernandez, F. (1995) Enhancing Citizens Participation in an Information Society. Proceedings 5th Informatics Conference Greek Computer Society December 1995
Nye, J. S. and Owens, W. A.
(1996) America's Information Edge. Foreign Affairs Journal
March/ April 1996 vol. 75, no. 2. Pp23-28
Electronic Sources - World Wide Web Sites & Email Contacts (as at 30 November 1996)
Benton Foundation (1996 WWW) United States Universal Service Provision www.benton.org
Clarke Roger (1996, WWWa) Speech to Victorian Council of Civil Liberties www.anu.edu/people/ Roger.Clarke/II/VicCCL.html
Clarke Roger (1996, WWWb) Netethiquette References (on the Web) www.anu.edu/ people/ Roger.Clarke/II/ Netethiquetterefs.html
Durango Declarations (1995 WWW) www.lanl.gov/SFC/95/declaration.html
Internet Industry Association of Australia - Email:email@example.com, 1996
Kling, R. The Information Society: Letter from Rob Kling for TIS, Issue 12(1) Jan-May 1996. Email:kling@binky.ICS.UCI.EDU
Merel, Peter (1996 WWW) The Expectations of Electronic Communities - A Bill of Electronic Rights and Responsibilities, V0.15 www.usyd.edu.au/~pete/err.html
World Intellectual Property
Organization Treaty (1996) www.public-domain.org/database/database.
The authors acknowledge the comments, contributions and assistance from Roger Clarke, Diane Whitehouse, Patsy Segall, Margaret McEvoy, Graham Greenleaf, Philip Argy and Andrew Freeman.
return to KG's home page
Return to Karin Geiselhart's papers