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REVIEW: "Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace", Richard Spinello

Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor
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"Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace", Richard Spinello, 2004,
%A Richard Spinello
%C 40 Tall Pine Drive, Sudbury, MA 01776
%D 2000
%G 0-7637-1269-8
%I Jones and Bartlett Publishers
%O U$32.95/C$54.57 978-443-5000 fax: 978-443-8000 Removed)
%P 165 p.
%T "Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace"

Chapter one outlines basic moral theories and categories of theories.
The early material is turgid and unclear, but it does improve. A
simplistic history and outline of Internet technology and use, in
chapter two, points out that all forms of net governance have problems
and therefore ethics are important. There is, though, no ethical
debate on regulation. Free speech and censorship are discussed in
chapter three, mostly dealing with pornography. The difficulties of
various positions are enumerated but there is little ethical analysis.
Two ethical scenarios are included for deliberation, at the end of the
chapter. Chapter four examines the legal view with regard to
intellectual property, but does go on to assess the ethical arguments,
particularly from Locke and Hegel. The material is limited: there is,
for example, no analysis of the various eastern philosophies that
place a higher value on the rights of society over that of the
individual, and therefore hold patent restrictions to be somewhat
immoral. The text goes on to raise related issues such as digital
rights architectures, but fails to explore, for example, the
historical technical failures of such systems (as in the case of CD
and DVD protection) or the fragmenting and isolating effects of the
technologies. Chapter five does deal with moral arguments for
privacy, initially, but only briefly, and primarily points out the
problems that philosophical debate has had in dealing with the issue.
The theoretical debate is limited and fails to deal with positions
such as those of David Brin, who holds that the "good" provided by
privacy can, in most cases, be supported by reciprocal transparency
(cf. BKTRASOC.RVW). The rather spotty overview of security, in
chapter six, is flawed because it relies heavily on fundamentals, such
as property and privacy rights, which were only partially supported in
earlier parts of the book.

This work does discuss a number of problematic areas where ethics
could make a contribution. However, aside from the lucid presentation
of divisions of moral theories given in the last half of chapter one,
overall the book does not add much to the literature already covering
the topic. I would still suggest that Johnson's volume (cf.
BKCMPETH.RVW) has the clearest presentation of the topic, and Tavani's
more recent "Ethics and Technology" (cf. BKETHTCH.RVW) provides better
academic background.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKCYBETH.RVW 20040719

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