Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Privacy Code of Ethics in the Corporate World

Kelly, in my 759 class, posted a fabulous response to a question on our BlackBoard site. The problem with BB though is that once a great post is generated, it is lost forever. I emailed her and asked for her permission to copy and paste it into my blog. She generously agreed, so if this posting helps in any way, it would be great to hear back from you!

Kelly's post:
Your question gave me pause for thought on ethics in library and information science generally. You're right, as librarians we give great consideration to our code of ethics; we certainly spent a great deal of time in discussion on the topic of privacy beginning in my 701 class, and every class I have participated in so far has touched on the subject. The ALA has taken a very strong stance on the subject of privacy as it relates to the library user--stating in its Code of Ethics a responsiblity to protect each library users' right to privacy. But I wondered, as you did, what other professional organizations have spent the institutional energy on the subject of privacy and confidentiality. I thought the class might benefit from some links to professional organizations in the information technology world and their codes of ethics or statements of professional responsibilities:

Association of Independent Information Professionals

International Webmasters Association

Association for Computing Machinery

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (UK)

These are just a few of the professional organizations of the IT world, but your question raises a good point about just who is protecting the privacy of the digital library user or, more broadly, electronic information users in general I think the discussion goes way beyond just the individuals that we may work with--its an awareness issue as well as an ethics issue.

Interestingly, an examination of the CPSR site also reveals issues with other local values in the information ecology generally: peace and the role of information technology in the military, equality in the workplace and gender differences in communication, democracy and the role of technology in voting, to name a few--and these apply to digital libraries as well (e.g., democracy and equality as they relate to access). I think the point O'Day and Nardi make is that the perspective of each of the components of the ecology (users, sponsors, developers) is different and needs to be brought down to the local level in the design process as a means to discover new applications (Digital Library Use, 2003). But does this really extend the responsiblity we have as participants in the design process to ensure ethical design in the systems we work with? I think it does....

Information is pretty good and impressed me a lot. This article is quite in-depth and gives a good overview of the topic.

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