Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to technology use. According to Mossberger, Digital Citizen refers to a person utilizing Information Technology (IT) in order to engage in society, politics, and government. [Mossberger, Karen; Digital Citizenship]

Digital citizenship can also be seen as the ability to participate in society online, promotes social inclusion. Digital Citizenship examines three aspects of participation in society online: economic opportunity, democratic participation and inclusion in prevailing forms of communication.

The impact of IT on the younger generation is huge, there is a need to campaign and instruct a lot of young kids on how to embrace technology every day, to enlighten them on examining the consequence of how they use the internet. Younger people have access to the internet supervised or unsupervised, therefore, the need to learn Digital Citizenship is paramount.

Information Search and Analysis is an important aspect of Digital Citizenship. There are lots of resources available over the Internet and not all is authentic. Digital citizenship teaches people how to look out, select, and streamline information and how to choose a real and authentic source of information.

We need to be aware of the legal and cultural contexts in which we communicate and work. We also need to be aware of the opportunities and challenges of communicating and learning within an online environment. These however, cannot be fully understood in isolation from our socially based understanding about learning, education’s changing perspectives on what constitutes effective learning, and attitudes to technology.

It is also important to know that some aspects of digital citizenship are guided by policies; others are dictated by rules and laws, while still others are open to discussion and interpretation. If you’re not aware of your rights, responsibilities, and some of the ethics that influence communicating in online spaces, you could be heading for issues. So, you might like to reflect on what your stance is, especially around culture, ethics and values, and take or create opportunities for robust discussion.

It cannot be ruled out that misuse of the internet can be dangerous if care is not taken, hence we will highlight below important questions to consider in Digital Citizenship.

How do you know if the information your friend sends to you is authentic?

Is it a good idea to share compromising pictures of yourself or a friend on the internet? What could be the consequences?

What are my rights and responsibilities in an online environment?

What are my child’s rights and responsibilities in an online environment?

What is morally and ethically sound in a particular situation?

Do I know how to search for, evaluate, and attribute material on the web?

What is legal to download, use and share?

Being able to answer these and other questions will help shape human understanding and skills in the online environment. It will help to ensure that the society gets the most out of working, learning and collaborating in an online environment. [confer Digital Citizenship for Adults.]

ISSUES IN SOCIETY RELATING TO PERSONAL DATA

Personal data is any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual. Different pieces of information, which collected together can lead to the identification of a particular person, also constitute personal data.

Today, information gathering is very easy and fast, most people even give out very vital information to the public without knowing it. For example, the use of social media such as Facebook allows people to post anything on the internet which is accessible to anyone in any part of the world. Another way to look at the issue of data proliferation in the society is through filling of online forms to organizations who require it for one thing or the other that we applied for.

Many company records are now digitalized, for example hospital records of clients, job applications, online survey, social media profiles to mention but a few. With this in mind, it is important to encourage the development and application of privacy frameworks that apply an ethical approach to data collection and handling; frameworks that incorporate, among other things, the concepts of fairness, transparency, participation, accountability, and legitimacy.

Although there is no universal privacy or data protection law that applies across the Internet, a number of international and national privacy frameworks have largely converged to form a set of core, baseline privacy principles. The following principles are derived from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2013 Privacy Guidelines, and are widely recognized as providing a good foundation for developing online privacy policies and practices: [confer: Policy Brief Privacy> ]

Collection limitation: There should be limits to the collection of personal data. Any such data should be obtained by lawful and fair means and, where appropriate, with the knowledge or consent of the data subject.

Data quality: Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which they are to be used and, to the extent necessary for those purposes, should be accurate, complete, and kept up-to-date.

Purpose specification: The purposes for which personal data is collected should be specified. The use should be limited to those purposes or other purposes that are not incompatible.

Use limitation: Personal data should not be disclosed, made available, or used for other purposes except with the consent of the individual or where authorised by law.

Security safeguards: Personal data should be protected by reasonable security safeguards.

Openness: There should be a general policy of openness about developments, practices, and policies with respect to personal data.

Individual participation: Individuals should have the right to obtain information about personal data held by others and to have it erased, rectified, completed, or amended, as appropriate.

Accountability: Those who collect personal data should be accountable for complying with the principles.

It should be noted that many of these principles imply transparency concerning who is collecting data, and what it is being used for.

 

ETHICAL OR REGULATORY ISSUES IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The term ethics is defined as “a set of moral principles” or “the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group.” The advent of modern technology has a profound effect on human behaviour and environment; this is what led to discussions on Ethical or Regulatory issues in Information Technology.

Ethical or Regulatory questions are important in all professions. Doctors, teachers, government officials and business people all have legal and ethical oversight to control how their professions work. Information technology, by contrast, has no specific form of standardization in place. However, as information technology becomes increasingly influential, the ethical and regulatory considerations become similarly relevant. Here are the five most pressing ethical and regulatory issues confronting the industry today.

1.       Privacy

The term privacy has many definitions, but for our purposes, privacy will mean the ability to control information about oneself. Our ability to maintain our privacy has eroded substantially in the past decades, due to information systems.

Most people have their personal data spread throughout the digital world. Even things thought to be secure, such as email or private accounts, can be accessed by unintended sources. Most employers actively check their employees’ computer habits. Privacy has evolving legal implications, but there are also ethical considerations. Do people know how their accounts are monitored? To what extent is such monitoring occurring? This can easily become a slippery slope, slowly eroding an individual’s right to privacy completely.

2.      Digital Ownership

Digital mediums have allowed information to flow more freely than before. This exchange of ideas comes with a legal and ethical backlash. How can ownership be established in the digital realm? Things can be easily copied and pasted online, which makes intellectual property hard to control. Legal notions such as copyright have struggled to keep up with the digital era. Companies in the music and entertainment industries have pushed for greater legal protections for intellectual properties while other activists have sought to provide greater freedoms for the exchange of ideas in the digital realm.

3.      Data Gathering

On some level, everyone knows that their online lives are monitored. The United States has even passed legislation allowing the government to actively monitor private citizens in the name of national security. These measures have revived a debate about what information can be gathered and why. This debate applies on a smaller scale as well because companies need to consider what information to collect from their employees. This issue invokes a question of consent. Do people know what information is being monitored? Do they have a right to know how their data is being used?

4.      Security Liability

In the past, security issues were resolved by locking a door. Digital security is much more complicated. Security systems for digital networks are computerized in order to protect vital information and important assets. However, this increased security comes with increased surveillance. All security systems have inherent risks, which mean it is a question of what risks are acceptable and what freedoms can be forfeited. Ultimately, IT professionals need to balance risk with freedom to create a security system that is effective and ethical at the same time.

5.      Access Costs

Net neutrality has become a trendy issue thanks to legislative efforts in the last few years. The issue of net neutrality is essentially a question of access. Proponents want the Internet to remain open to everyone while some businesses want to create tiered access for those who are willing to pay. The issue even extends to private Internet usage since the cost of service in some areas may be cost prohibitive. The larger ethical question is whether or not digital exchange is now a universal right. The cost of access can impede business growth, entrepreneurial spirit and individual expression.

These issues are essential for everyone, but they carry extra weight for those who work with information technology. It is important to remember that working with technology is not separated from ethical contexts but can actually help define a regulatory and ethical code for generations to come. [confer: Legal and Ethical Issues in IT.