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Some effects of the development of information technology have given people cause for concern.

The Internet and freedom of speech

The Internet is a vast source of information but it can also be used to peddle ***********, con people out of money, invade people’s privacy with unwanted advertising, and make it easier for criminals to organise their activities.

However, it is not the case that anyone can post anything over the Internet. For example:

  • The Chinese Government heavily censors its citizens' use of the Internet.
  • Libel (written defamation of someone's character) laws apply equally well to the Internet.
  • Copyright [copyrightLegal protection given to authors to help prevent unauthorised copying of their work. ] law is being actively used to suppress websiteswebsitea web page or group of web pages hosted on one web server and viewed in a web browser, for example, many file sharingfile sharingthe act of sharing files over the Internet websites have been shutdown over the years.

Arguments for control

  • To prevent illegal material being readily available.
  • To prevent young children accessing unsuitable material.
  • To ensure copyright laws are maintained.

Arguments against control

  • Unsuitable material is easily available in other ways.
  • Control would cost money and users would have to pay.
  • Control would be very difficult to enforce.

Confidential data

Many people are concerned about organisations storing personal, confidential details on computer. A student may want to know:

  • What information the school stores about them?
  • Who has access to this information, eg which members of staff?
  • Whether the information is available to other schools or organisations?
  • What security measures are in place to prevent unauthorised access to the information?
  • Could the information stored be used against them in any way?

The section on the Data Protection Act gives more information on this topic.

The Internet and crime

New technology brings with it new crimes and as a result some governments are setting up special units to deal with Internet crime.

A major concern is Internet fraud. For example,phishingphishingan attempt to gain personal information about someone by way of deception, eg sending an email pretending to from their bank asking them for their bank account no. scams, identity theftidentity theftwhen the identity of an individual is assumed by someone else in order to profit, financially or otherwise and denial of service attacks are common techniques used by criminals today.

Other concerns surround:

  • the interception of credit card details and transactions online
  • hackinghackingto gain unauthorised access to a computer into personal, private files with criminal intent
  • fraudulent websiteswebsitea web page or group of web pages hosted on one web server and viewed in a web browser taking credit card details…


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