In the present world, so called information technology
age, the term
Internet is not new to most of us. Although started in recent
past years, today it has become one of basic needs of life,
especially in urban context. Our focus in this term paper is our
present Indian Internet community, and is focussed to bring
certain important aspects into discussion and contemplation. This
is especially because in our country India, the Internet has mainly
come into much into day-today life only few years back. And thus it
is very important to bring into discussion many important aspects of
this new introduction called cyberspace in our daily lives, which
may not have been adequately handled, talked about or known to
us. As we know, man is a social being. The society we live in has
its norms and ethics, and it is expected in almost every society
to live a moral and ethical life according to that society. But
as we know that a child can't be expected to cater all
responsibilities of a full-fledged citizen. As she or he grows,
it starts noticing the many things in the world, and if a
value-based life is lived by people around, it starts learning
them. The same should hold for virtual world or cyberspace. A
person born and brought up in cyber environment is expected to
know its norms and ethics, and to follow and propagate them to
live a moral cyber life. But, if we see our present Indian, or
any developing country or even developed countries Internet
community, things started only recently, and thus a full-fledged
Internet citizen may not be expected which has been brought up in
cyber environment. Thus, we need to know many new things,
learning many new things and practice them in our Internet lives.
One aim of our term paper is to handle this issue. Our
paper also tries to handle some of so called technical aspects of
Internet or Internet ethics. We will explore it in detail, and
will try to associate technicality into morality. There are some
inherent aims which we may not exclusively express, or bring
forth, but they are expected to be noticed in due contexts in
this paper. Some of these are willingly or knowingly done mischief
and misconduct on the Internet, issues regarding cyberlife or
e-life, and many others. From anything brought to anyone, the one
who is receiving has certain expectations. Thus you must be
having certain inherent expectations from any paper based on
Internet ethics. But here we need to be frank that many commonly
talked or discussed issues like pornography over the net,
patents, copyright issues etc have not been discussed in much
details, because as we said above, our aim is coherent around
certain other very important issues. So we hope you to accordingly
change your expectations from our paper. As you go through it,
contents might seem sometimes very common, or sometimes like
never seen. But what we hope you to contemplate, is on the essence
of the contents and not the contents themselves. We then
sincerely hope that you will be able to see how is this paper
handling issues that are inherently different from normal
Internet lives, yet very important when seen in a moral point of
view. We hope you will really enjoy reading this paper.
Snap 1 - Do Computers think?
The question of whether computers can think is
just like the
question of whether submarines can swim.
- Edsger W. Dijkstra
For this topic to be discussed, we assume that the
seen and worked on any computer sometime. Now let us start with a
digital machine like calculator. The basic difference between a
computer and electronic calculator is that although both of them
have memory, a computer can be programmed but a calculator may
not be programmed. So one thing is very clear that a computer can
be made to think or at least follow a predefined set of
instructions. We will not go much deep into this discussion, but
some great computer wizards say that computer can think, while
other equally great minds say that computers cannot think. To
answer this question, one need to explore the meaning of word
thinking, and must have adequate knowledge of theoretical
computer science with expertise on theory of computation. The
research work that is currently going on has inclination that
computers can think, and thus a branch of computer science called
the Artificial Intelligence is devoted to studies in this field.
For our present requirement, we assume that although computers
can think or at least try to simulate a thinking person, but
actually they cannot think as humans think. We also assume that
computers cannot create something entirely new, as an
artist can, or write an entirely new program as a computer
scientist can. When we define any computer or finite automaton we
define both its syntactic and semantic domains. We are supposing
for this text that computer cannot generate semantic or
rather saying, new semantic domains for themselves. Although
these may be viewed as question of computing capabilities
by critical philosophers of the subject, but we don't go much
into details as per present situation. However, we want you not
to stop with us, as this is one of the fundamental questions, and
even though one may not be able to answer objectively, but one
must think over this very interesting question of computer being
intelligent or not.
Snap 2 - The Virtual World
The world of computers or specifically Internet is
virtual world. It is also called cyberspace. The common sense
meaning of word virtual is that it is not real. But as a person
of computer science, I would say that it is not actually true
when viewed in computer science world. For example, the word
virtual memory doesn't mean a memory that does not exist,
but a real memory that gives a sense or illusion of memory of
infinite size. For a person not into much of computer world, it
may seem that the virtual world has nothing to do with the real
world, but such is not the case. Let us try to explore this in
detail. When something happens over the computer, it is very much
clear that nothing happens in real life, only when we are viewing
it in a sense of something happening physically or something
which involves displacement or any physical change, to be
precise. For example, somebody claiming that she has slapped you
by showing a neticon of slapping, on the IRC (Internet Relay
Chat). She hasn't exactly slapped you physically. Now consider
another similar case, you read your email, but you will not say
that I haven't got the message as it was given over the computer,
as an email in any case is not less informative than a real life
letter sent through post. Thus something in the cyber world is
taking the place of something in the real world. Now lets go a
bit deeper. We most of the times try to relate anything in the
cyber world with real world counterpart, and then come into
conclusion that nothing has happened in the real world. This is
much because the cyber world has started after the real world.
But as the cyber world gets aged and matured, many things or
events in the cyber world will not need their counterparts in the
real world just for their being those things or events.
Let us consider the case of introduction of money
into the world.
It must have replaced the barter system in the beginning. In the
initial stage, it had something for its reference or value, like
gold, silver or diamond. But as the time passed, this reference
started losing its importance, and now if we see, we no more
require any such reference. Thus, although in the beginning money
was not supposed to be independent, and its existence was
dependent upon gold or silver for its value, but in the due
course, it became independent. If we apply an analogy of this to
the Internet world and the real world, we expect the similar
thing to happen to Internet world as was to the money. What we
are trying to say here is that virtual world will try to sustain
without real world being its reference. By world here, much of
our inclination is towards what happens in these worlds rather
than any physical interpretation of the worlds themselves.
Obviously, there will be no virtual world without a real world
because the people who constitute the virtual world will have to
be in the real world. Now if we look in a different view, we care
so much about the real world due to another reason that we spend
most of the time of our days in the real world activities. So,
thinking on the same lines, for a person who spends most of her
or his time in the cyber world activities then for that person,
cyber world is equally important in almost all regards. And thus
anything being done there is equally significant as that same
thing being done in the real world. Thus if there is case of any
sexual misbehaviour over the net, or usage of any bad language or
anything which is offensive in real life world, will deemed to be
equally offensive and immoral in the Internet world. Thus the
Internet isn't only virtual world, but something more called the
world with the virtual reality. And this reality will no
longer seem to be virtual but will in future to us as real as
touching a flower or drinking a cold drink or any real life
activity as the matter of fact. Thus, as for any other world, we
need to think of many aspects of the Internet, and one of them is
the ethics and morality in the virtual world, which we call the
Internet Ethics. We will try to bring out some of the important
issues regarding the Internet ethics.
Snap 3 - What is the Internet
The Internet, as the name suggests, is complex network
smaller regional networks. The computers that are very important,
or rather say joining these networks to the Internet, are called
backbone computers or backbone servers. In this text we will
interchangeably use the words computers, machines, hosts or servers,
although they may be very different if we go into their
particularities. These backbone servers join the geographical
networks. But very important thing to notice here is that the
Internet is not run by a single computer or computers. This is
both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. This approach
suggests that it is virtually impossible for entire net to crash
down at once - even if a single computer or set of computers
shuts down, then also the network sustains.
Nobody really knows how many computers and networks
actually make up this Net. Some estimates say there are now as many as
5,000 networks connecting nearly 2 million computers and more than 15 million
people around the world. Whatever the actual numbers, however, it is clear
they are only increasing.
The Net is more than just a technological marvel.
It is human communication at its most fundamental level.
The pace may be a little quicker when the messages race around
the world in a few seconds, but it's not much different from a
large and interesting party. You'll see things in cyberspace that
will make you laugh; you'll see things that will anger you.
You'll read silly little snippets and new ideas that make you
think. You'll make new friends and meet people you wish would
just go away. Being connected to the Net takes more than just
reading conferences and logging messages to your computer; it
takes asking and answering questions, exchanging opinions -- getting involved. If you choose to go forward, to use and contribute, you
will become a "citizen of Cyberspace".
The more can read about the Internet from Big Dummy's
Guide to the
Snap 4 - Dictionary definition of Ethics
The dictionary tells us that ethics pertains to
moral principles; the rules of conduct recognized in respect
to a particular class of human actions or a particular group or
culture; the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating
to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness
of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives
and ends of such actions.
Snap 5 - Why bother about Ethics?
As we said earlier, for people who are new to any
world or realm,
something important things are to be familiarized, learned and
practiced. The ethics of that realm are very important part of
this new adventure. Without a moral or ethical approach in
background considerations, anything done in that realm is not
acceptable. Hence, one needs to bother about ethics.
Snap 6 - What is ethics good for?
This is very important question, which may be rephrased
really one gets or achieves when doing something in ethical way?
A very clear thing that anybody can notice is that it brings out
a regular way or common way of doing that thing. Most of the
times, the set of possible ways of doing a thing morally right,
is a bounded or closed set. Thus it helps in bringing
order in that particular field or way, from randomness or
chaos. The thing becomes more and more planned as it improves
with ethical considerations in background. And, as most of us
might have experienced, planning makes our lives much easier and
better. To understand this better, let us consider a newly
developing city. In particular, consider the traffic in the city.
If from the beginning itself the roads of the city are planned,
then the day-today lives of citizens will be much simpler because
of less traffic jams and road accidents. The world of the
Internet is like that of a city being developed. Thus each and
every aspect of it has to be well planned and thought of. Thus a
good set of Internet ethics will go a long way towards improving
our lives on the net. Although we may not be able plan everything
in correct details due to always changing and uncertain future of
this very complex world, a little flexibility is always a virtue.
Another very important point in this regard is that ethics just
can't be avoided or bypassed. Whenever a question of what
should one do, how should one do and what is best comes up, then
ethics have to be involved in. The questions above are not just questions but are central ethical questions. Almost any question of good, better, best, should or ought to involves ethics in it. Once answered, we can see clearly why is ethics good for.
Another very important reason, about which we
are most of times
ignorant in our discussions, is that ethics bring a sense of
peace and satisfaction within us. Although, we may easily try to
counter argue this fact, mostly because it is much inclined
towards subjectivity, but we cannot just eliminate it. After
living a life, one reason for a person to be satisfied upon his
or her life may be living an ethically and morally justified
life, although there may not be any apparent achievement. The
people who might have experienced this peace may easily say that
living this life in itself is a great achievement. What a joy it
brings to a person, whether he or she may not have been
successful in their effort, but whatever they do is accomplished
in a morally and ethically unquestionable way! This may be
extended further to the question of means and ends. The end in
itself may not be all that is required if viewed in a moral
framework. The means used to attain that end are equally
important moral considerations. And thus if the means used are
supposed to be right, then it carries a sense of accomplishment.
The experience of this bliss, mentioned in above lines,
may usually be very difficult to attain for most of us. One
important reason for this might be that we most of the times do
not bother about such bliss. Once experienced, the joy involved
is inexpressible, the bliss experienced is unexplainable. It is
just an experience, for those who strive for it.
Snap 7 - Do I require Internet Ethics?
As we have been discussing anybody using the Internet
knowing morality and ethics related to it and its usage. If I use
the Internet, then I surely require myself to know about the
Snap 8 - Is there anything special about the Internet ethics?
This is very crucial question, and we will try to
explore it in
detail. We know that different realms have different way of
communication. For example, in our real world, we communicate
through analog signals like sound we make, and also through
auxiliary ways like making signs or languages and even through
body language. In the same way, the Internet has way of
communication through digital signals in form of packets, and
thus anything we want to communicate has to be understood in
written language, and less commonly through images or animations,
sounds or video collectively called multimedia. This is the prime
specialty of the Internet ethics that its communication depends
upon how it is expressed in writing. Also, many other aspects in
the Internet are online like chatting, message passing, playing
games or other similar things, which are much more complicated
due to their being expressed in writing as well as being
expressed interactively. Thus, when we view the Internet ethics,
it has to be contemplated with special context in the background.
Snap 9 - The technical Aspect
In this section, we need to direct our attention to
physical details or rather technical details which seem to be far
from ethics or morality, but as we said, our aim is the
rendezvous of both of these seemingly much different issues. So
let us start with what really is anything we do over the
Internet? As per present technology, almost anything, which is
said to be done over the Internet, is a TCP/IP connection. IP
stands for Internet Protocol and TCP for Transmission Control
Protocol. Anything going by only IP connection is not secure,
thus we require TCP incorporated so that information is securely
passed over the Internet. Telnet connection is major consumer of
the network bandwidth.
Every time you press a key to be sent to the remote
Telnet will send something like 300 characters over the network,
giving Telnet quite a high overhead. Any connection like ftp,
sending mail, or doing any other similar work is like telnet
connection to an associated port related to that service. The normal
or by default telnet is connection to port number 23. Similarly ftp
is like telnet connection to port number 21, and sending email is to port 25. Net surfing (http) is also same thing to port number 80 or 8080.
Thus telnet is very important thing to ponder upon.
As we know
that the Internet is collection of various networks joined
together to form a single network. In this, any packet or
information passed has to be passed through networks of people
different from those of one sender request and another processing
that request, also called the client and the server. Thus
indirectly, we are using other people's resources. Another very
important thing to notice here that they have agreed to share
their resources, or may be they can't escape sharing their
resources if they want to be part of the Internet. In one way,
they might rather said to be bound to pass your information.
Otherwise, they will have to explicitly deny passing your
information through their network. If they do this, it seems
negative even though their intention in doing so may not
originally have anything like that. But mostly in the Internet
world, no network explicitly denies to pass other networks
information, and this may be based on mutual understanding,
protocols or honour policy based on mutual need and benefits. Now
suppose that somehow we are misusing other people's resources. It
seems very astounding, isn't it? Such may be the case when we are
not much aware or careful in using the Internet. Let us try to
find out more about it. As the technical detail says, a single
key pressed over dedicated Internet connection is same as passing
about 300 characters over the network through physical channel.
If we unnecessarily press keys just because feel like doing so,
we might be adding to unwanted Internet traffic. If the server we
have made connection is very far, like in other continent, then
the havoc of this unwanted overhead may be easily estimated. We
leave it to reader to judge whether it is will be ethically
right to misuse the resources of others just because we might be
ignorant about it?
Another very important thing to notice is that most
of the people dialing-in from their home through modem for the Internet
connection, Have a very slow connectivity. Sometimes, it even becomes horribly
slow due to bandwidth problem, peak hour, or telephone lines problem. Now if due to certain reasons, suppose this speed goes still slower, then consider the pity of people who might be suffering.
Will it bring ethical questions regarding people who might be using
the Internet in ignorance or lack of knowledge or lack of proper
considerations causing the much of the problems like slow speed
which may be otherwise avoided? I personally think that it does
bring, but answers may be subjective for others. So do these
technical issues raise moral questions? We will discuss this point
in due course in our paper.
Snap 10 - Misuse of the Internet tools and commands
These will again seem to be very technical but yet
need to be
discussed. We know that whenever a system is made, it has a
control subsystem associated or rather say it must have certain
tools to handle problems that might occur in day-today working of
that system. Similar is the case with the Internet. It has many
important tools or commands that follow certain mandatory or
standard protocols and are used to doctor the Internet. These
tools can't be eliminated as the problems in the Internet can't
be eliminated. The responsible people of the net, called system
administrators use these tools. But the very fact is that even
other people use these tools mostly with intentions that do not
seem to be positive, and even when responsible people use them,
they also don't do it responsibly.
The following are typical misused system tools or commands:
We will discuss the command ping briefly.
The command ping is used to know whether a host is
alive or not.
The client sends a ping request, and the server has to respond
to ping request of client by sending back the packets to the client.
Its command-line syntax for Unix systems is:
ping -c <number> hostname
When one gives just a simple command without -c option,
has to respond back with 56 packets many times and thus
unnecessarily increases the traffic in the Internet. The
providing the number argument to be 1 for -c option will ask for
reply only once and the job would be done. We usually, most of
the times the technical people, do not notice such things which
seem minor to us, but actually these little things may create
havoc to other systems and thus to other people associated with
them. In many public access servers, like grex.cyberspace.org,
they don't allow to use such very important commands just because
people don't realize what really such a simple command can cause,
or many people use it in a harmful way knowingly. They earlier
used to allow, but now they have stopped. This may seem not to
involve any serious ethical issues, but when viewed in the
Internet frame, where the whole world unites into one, this is a
very serious ethical question. We need to be very conscious and
careful while using any Internet system administration tools.
The case for traceroute is also very interesting,
although we are
not discussing it now, and involves questions on ethical grounds
other than one discussed for ping, whether it is ethical to trace
the route of a packet to know about a person? The another term
paper dealing with the Internet ethics, focussing on hacking and
other similar aspects will try to explore much regarding this.
Snap 11 - The Ten Commandments for Computer Ethics
1. Thou shall not use a computer to harm other people.
2. Thou shall not interfere with other people's computer work.
3. Thou shall not snoop around in other people's files.
4. Thou shall not use a computer to steal.
5. Thou shall not use a computer to bear false witness.
6. Thou shall not use or copy software for which you have not paid.
7. Thou shall not use other people's computer resources
8. Thou shall not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
9. Thou shall think about the social consequences
of the program you
10.Thou shall use a computer in ways that show consideration
Many of the above issues are quite clear why they
have been added
into ethics. We will discuss few of them that are related much to
technicalities. Let's consider Thou shall not use a computer
to bear false witness. For a layman, it may seem quite
absurd, because he or she may not be able to figure out its
meaning. Let's go technical, this may simply mean that one will
not use a computer to claim to another computer. This may
technically cause what is called IP address conflict. But more to
this is that it may also be used to catch or steal some data from
other machines by claiming to be some machine. I am not sure
whether such a case has ever happened, but in principle it is
possible. Thus led by this commandment, one would safely choose
not to bear false witness to avoid any ethical wrongdoing in the
Another commandment about which we would like to discuss
Thou shall think about the social consequences of the program
you write. It may be very important for computer enthusiasts to
follow this commandment. To explain this, we may use Existentialism principle that whatever a person does, he doesthat for all. Thus
while doing anything, one need to look thatthing in the perspective
of all the people associated and the benefit or harm of all of
them. Just because one might be genius of assembly language or
machine language, one should not write any arbitrary piece of code.
One needs to look into the social consequences of it. The ethical question, which may be asked here, is whether one is a responsible citizen of cyberspace? The other thing that may be discussed is what
makes a netizen or citizen of cyberspace responsible?
The last thing in this we discuss is the last commandment
shall use a computer in ways that show consideration and
respect. It seems very simple, but again let's view in the
technical framework. Consider what happens when an email is sent.
The client machine when trying to make a connection to a
mailserver for sending an email, the first thing it is supposed
to do as a sort of formality is to say hello to server
machine and gives its domain name address in the process. The
protocol used for this is called helo protocol. I am not
sure whether you have ever experienced or noticed, many a time an
email message has a header saying the client machine did not
use the helo protocol. This may be viewed as breach of
norms or ethics at the machine level. This lack ethical
consideration may, by transitivity, be attributed to client
system administrators who have installed the corresponding
program on that client machine. Although, nothing much to worry
about, but in the long run even these minute details are
important. This ethical issue may further be extended to issue
regarding usage of non-standard programs or services over the
Internet. This may also be particularized to discuss issues like
distorting the original standards just to show pride or monopoly,
as is the case regarding Microsoft Incorporated distortion of
Java standards which was created by Sun Microsystems. In this
paper, we are not discussing any of these issues.
Snap 12 - Telnet Etiquette
1. Remain on the system only long enough to get your
2. Download and review instructions locally rather than occupying
3. When you connect to a remote Internet host with telnet, remember
that someone at some remote location has taken the time to let
people on the Internet use their computer. In exchange and in
respect you should always follow whatever rules are posted on
4. Avoid using telnet services at top business hours or hours
indicated by host, so that you may also avoid slow speed and
In this case, things are quite clear from our earlier
We will discuss the first point, and issues that make it etiquette.
For the people who are already accessing any public access servers,
like grex.cyberspace.org, might know the pain and helplessness
incurred while waiting a queue of more than 60-70 people already
waiting for a free port to log-in. The pain becomes deeper when
one is fervently waiting to discuss something on the bulletin
board system (BBS) or conferences, and is not able to get a
terminal. The reason being, many people might have unnecessarily
occupying the terminals for nothing. When doing telnet, one
should logout as soon as possible so that other people may also
get chance to login. This issue may further be viewed in ethical
realm of our earlier point, whether the resources should be
wasted just because we don't care about them? We need to
remember that our one useless pressing of key means 300 useless
characters to flow over the dedicated channel of connectivity.
The ethical issue is apparent.
The last point in the telnet ethics is important in
the regard of
our honour and respect towards others who bother to provide services
to us. We need to be considerate about their business productivity
by avoiding using their resources when they themselves need them. If
it is not urgent, we can use their resources for our benefit at some
later time usually after normal business hour according to that
machine time, and this will enhance the productivity of both of
us, ours by fast access and theirs by their business profit or
productivity. As we have earlier pointed out, telnet is most
important Internet connection, thus its ethics must be understood
in a closer and very careful way. This will make our lives much
simpler in the virtual world.
Snap 13 - FTP Etiquette
1. Lest we forget, the Internet is there for people
to do work.
People using the network and the systems on it are doing so for
a purpose, whether it be research, development, whatever. Any
heavy activity takes away from the overall performance of the
network as a whole.
2. The effects of an FTP connection on a site and
its link can vary;
the general rule of thumb is that any extra traffic created
detracts from the ability of that site's users to perform their
tasks. To help be considerate of this, it's highly recommended
that FTP sessions be held only after normal business hours for
that site, preferably late at night.
3. Think in terms of the current time at the site
visited, not of local time. This is especially true when
accessing sites on another continents.
4. The Internet is financed in a cooperative effort.
share the charges incurred by users.
5. If you find some files that may be of interest
to others at your
own site, publicize it and try to make it available.
As we can ourselves view, the ftp ethics are self-explanatory.
The fourth point needs a bit consideration. This is related to
our earlier ethical issue regarding services being provided by
others for us. Thus to provide services to us, others might be
paying money, may be in a collective way. Thus any ftp archieve
should be viewed with desired respect, and should be used
efficiently so that the actual aim of providing service for all
may be fulfilled.
The last point is also important, especially when
sites for Linux operating system, where thousands of people may be
doing ftp simultaneously. These machines' administrators strongly
urge to use other similar backup archieves machines for ftp to the users, because these machines get too much overloaded. Thus try to distribute the software as per license agreements locally, so that bandwidth may be saved and others things may also go fine in the
other side. This is extremely important when we download software
from servers in the other continents.
Snap 14 - Email Ethics
1. Never assume your email messages are private
they can be read by only yourself or the recipient. Never send
something that you would mind seeing on the evening news.
2. When quoting another person, edit out
directly not applicable to your reply. Don't let your
mailing or Usenet software automatically quote the entire body of
messages you are replying to when it's not necessary. Take the
time to edit any quotations down to the minimum
necessary to provide context for your reply. Nobody likes
reading a long message in quotes for the third or fourth time,
only to be followed by a one line response: "Yeah, me too."
3. Focus on one subject per email and always
appropriate subject title for the message, that way the reader
can locate the message quickly.
4. Use email signatures while writing email to new people.
5. Capitalize words only to highlight
an important point or to
distinguish a title or heading. Capitalizing whole words that
are not titles is generally termed as SHOUTING!
6. *Asterisks* surrounding a word can be used to make
7. Use !!!! sparingly. You can only generate so much
the single !
8. Never send chain letters through the Internet.
Sending them can
cause the loss of your Internet Access.
9. Please be considerate and avoid misinterpretation
of dates by
listing dates including the spelled out month: Example:
24th June, 1996 or June 24, 1996
10.Follow chain of command procedures for corresponding
superiors. For example, don't send a complaint via
email directly to the top just because you can.
11.Be professional and careful what you say
about others. Email
is easily forwarded.
12.It is considered extremely rude to forward personal
mailing lists or Usenet without the original author's permission.
13.Be careful when using sarcasm and humor.
face to face
communications your joke may be viewed as criticism. Use emoticons
to express humor
:-) happy face for humour, ;-) winking
14.Messages that are filled with acronyms can be confusing
annoying to the reader. So use of acronyms should be minimized.
a/s/l = age/sex/location (chatting jargon)
Original Author: Arlene Rinaldi, Florida Atlantic
(locally edited copy)
As in other cases, this case also many things are
We will be discussing few important points. The second point which
says that edit out other persons quotation is something about which people have been very much ignorant, which we now try to bring into discussion. It is very important to know that people who are
comfortable in sharing their views or personal thoughts with you
might not be so with so many others, especially in public. So we
need to very careful when replying to others regarding a personal
mail. We must be very careful to include only the relevant and not offending matters in the reply text, editing out all personal
details. If some personal information is disclosed to other through mail, then it may be a great offence against the original sender of
the mail. So one needs to be very particular and careful about this point of email ethics. Another very important reason for editing out
the quotations is that they make the email text long, thus
unnecessary information is propagated again and again, which may
not be required. This causes wastage of resource and increase in
network traffic as pointed out earlier.
Another point of notice is that of ethics regarding
sending chain letters. In a small age, the net has suffered a lot over
this point. Some people who initiate the chain letters ask others to forward
the letters to people they may be considerate about. Thus the information,
which may also have loopholes on its authenticity, is kept on passing
and thus precious resources of network bandwidth is unnecessarily
wasted with even false ideas being propagated. There are chain
letters like people dying due to rat-infected grains, and things
like that, which have been found not to be true. The present net
community is very stern towards the chain letters.
Another very important thing, which we will bring
out into issue, is
expression of emotions over emails. We have already discussed in
the beginning that when on the Internet, what you are thinking
might not be important, but what that is written really matters.
So your emails might be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted
if you have not been careful in the expression of your emotions,
causing lot of unintended troubles in real life relationships.
One needs to be very precise, to the point and clear in the
communication. Also the spellings of words should be carefully
checked so that they may not bring unexpected meaning. The email
is most important and most widely used feature of the Internet.
Thus we must know and be careful about every particularities of
its ethics. The emails may be viewed as virtual life counterpart
of real life talking, and real life ethics says one should think
before speaking anything.
Snap 15 - Conclusion
The purpose of this paper has been not to pass any
judgement, but to bring out the issues into discussion. The world
of the Internet is very new to most of us, thus we may not be
mature enough to pass any serious judgements over the various
issues in the virtual world. But as the issues have been opened,
they will reside in our minds and slowly mould our day-today
cyberlife in accordance with its vast ethical realm. We have not
discussed many similar issues, like those related to newsgroup ethics
in Usenet services and common telnet services like gopher, Archie,
WAIS (Wide Area Information Systems) etc. Most of the things
regarding ethics are common in all of them, but they also need to
be noticed in the particularity of the purpose of that
service. The essence of the Internet is in these services, and to
feel this essence, foremost thing one requires is to
involve oneself in it. The waters are deep and the real
gems are on the bed, sometimes visible with faint light from the
surface, and sometimes even not visible at all. As in every case,
one who dares to dive deep procures the real precious gems, the
cyber world is no exception to this. The Internet ethics are the
swimsuits and tools one wears to have a good and safe experience
of journey in this adventure. A good and careful swimmer would
not like to swim without proper tools, so is a good netizen who
always holds-on to follow and honour the Internet ethics.
In this paper, we have tried to dive into the vast
sea of the
Internet ethics, explored some of its jewels and gems, and tried
to come to its shore with something in our hands. But we might
have not been successful in many aspects, and our expectations
are also not so. The Internet is like a labyrinth, a maze, where
you take a street, and you go on exploring it, but the end never
seems be nears - such is the depth and vastness of the Internet
in any of its form -
telnet, ftp, Usenet, gopher or www ...
Our aim has been to put the issue into your hands,
which you may
like to think about in future. So next time when you go to CSC,
or departmental lab or use a PC connected to internet and as you
start surfing the net, do a telnet to netearth, ftp a file, join
a newsgroup, ping a server, download a file from net or send an
email, before clicking the mouse or pressing the enter key, stop
for a moment, and consider whether your action is just clicking
the mouse button or just pressing a key or is it more than that?
The real question is:
Will it somewhere affect someone in someway?
If you find yourself thinking about it, then the purpose
paper is supposed to be fulfilled.
Wish you a wonderful cyberlife ahead!