Tuesday, 30 June 2015 11:06

Netiquette vs Internet Ethics


Every society has a code of acceptable conduct termed ‘etiquette’. The foundation of etiquette is the behavior that is accepted as gracious and polite in society. ‘Netiquette’, though a relatively recent concept, is quite similar to etiquettes. As much as ‘etiquette’ deals with the acceptable behavior in society as a whole, ‘netiquette’ deals with the acceptable behavior on digital media and the internet.

The frequent and increased use of the internet in the modern world has brought positive and negative consequences for individuals as well as societies. Easy availability of information, the ease and speed of transmission has opened up areas of possibilities, increasing the necessity to lay a set of rules for online behavior. This makes it more imperative for a regulatory body, or set of guidelines to be present to guide the users, and discipline them when needed.

Since there is no single authority who owns the internet, the question arises as to who will lay out the ‘netiquettes’ to regulate online behavior and who will enforce them. Various organizations have given out guidelines for ethical behavior on the internet, especially with regard to conducting research. One such institution is the Computer Ethics Institute that developed the “TenCommandmentsof ComputerEthics”in 1992. However, this is not the only organization that have undertaken the task of regulating online behavior. There is also a set of acceptable behavior on the Internet, an informal code of conduct that internet users generally comply with. Those who do not comply with these standards are shunned or reprimanded by other users.

Some of the most common violations of this informal code of conduct are practices such as spamming, flaming, pretending to be someone else, and often, using capitalization in mass emails with the purpose of harassing the recipient. Spamming is when a standardized commercial email is sent to hundreds of people at a time, often flooding their inboxes with emails they don’t want. Flaming is the unnecessary use of abusive or hostile language. It is often a personal attack in an aggressive tone. Pretending to be someone else behind the curtain of anonymity that internet offers is another such offense.

In addition to the above, online behavior is regulated by Internet research ethics. Most internet researchers, professionals and amateurs both, are also concerned with internet research ethics when conducting research online. They deal with issues like anonymity, incorrect information, data privacy and informed consent particularly with regard to the research participants and use ethical means for collecting research data with complete transparency.

The bottom-line is that the internet was invented to make life easier, and speed up transfer of information and media. However, with the growing use, it has become necessary for someone to keep in check the individual behavior online in order to ensure the safe use of the internet. Whether it is during general internet use or use of it for research purposes, internet pose several threats to those who use it. Therefore, it is these guidelines that ensures the safety online. Generally, users often do this themselves, although sometimes institutions also get involved when a possible treat affects a large number of people or it is a matter of national security.  



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