Media and the rising ease of information access have facilitated major legal and societal concerns in the past. Digital convergence and globalization in the present societies raise intricate legal, societal and ethical issues, regarding information access, privacy rights, intellectual property rights and freedom of expression (Gupta, 2005, p. 123).
Because information and Communication Technology is an instrumental tool for gathering information, it should be availed as a basic human right. However, this right is abused all over the world for various reasons such as political stability, anti terrorism campaigns, economic advancements, personal greed and for religious causes. Governments have had concerns over the liberty and use of technologies, in regard to national securities.
In addition to this, it is becoming more difficult for governments to control accessibility to the global information systems. Because if this, the fundamental concern over ICT is creating a balance between information access and marinating national security (Schultz, 2006, p. 118). The ethical issue is how a government can decide on controlling access, to what extent, and what kind of information they should control.
The media has made it possible for people to access information as well as communicate globally. An example of this is the happening in Egypt, in January 2011, when people use internet media and social sites to organize protests against the then Egyptian president. Because of these concerns, it has been important for governments to come up with strategies of combating incidences of malicious attacks, computer crimes, fraud, and violations of rights.
Governments need to inform citizens of the security risks involved in internet and media information access. While it is important for governments to control information flow for national security, it is also important for them to make their citizens aware of the need for the control.
Creating a balance between access and security should not be a difficult decision for governments to make because the ICT sector has recognised global ethical issues that affect the industry, and as such, devised ethical guidelines on how to handle such. In addition to these, there are legislations that guide information handling, access and use.
If a country recognises the citizen’s right to obtain information, as well as the importance of obtaining these information, it would not selfishly deny them the right. However, in cases such as the Egypt saga, they are globally recognised as selfish attempts by government leaders to deny citizens their right to access information (Liebowitz & khosrowpour, 1997, p. 78).
Following the rising insecurities and ethical problems associated with digital communication, recent political persuasions seem to be focused on creating greater surveillance on communications. They hope that this will solve the problem of digital crimes, as well as help them maintain safety in their territories.
This may not be the case, as every country has its own security concern, which may not be important to another country. Because of the differences in their needs, it is difficult to find a comprehensive solution to all their concerns. This may in turn create conflicts and tensions between countries.
Governments already have ways of controlling access to certain types of information that may lead to national insecurity. In case where there is need to keep information private from the public, there should be constitutional legislations that apply in order to maintain peace. It is important for governments to have these policies, provisions, and legislations that guide information and media freedom in early enough, so as to prevent abrupt protests.
When the citizens, as well as the media are aware of government’s actions to prevent information access, they are less likely to act in defence. In addition tom this, governments should apply the global acceptable conditions for deciding on which information is considered a national threat, and how to keep it private from citizens.
The same conditions are also applicable when formulating the provisions for media freedom, as well as personal freedom to information access. It is only possible for a country to devise its own legislations regarding digital communication, basing them on the global acceptable standards of information handling. This way, the country will be able to create laws that are suitable for its citizens, while maintain the global peace, regarding digital communication.
Gupta, V (2005). International Communication: contemporary Issues and trends in global information revolution. Boston: Concept publishing company
Liebowitz, J and Khosrowpour, M (1997) Cases on information technology management in modern organizations. New York: Idea group Inc
Schultz, R (2006).contemporary issues in ethics and information technology. New York: Idea group Inc