Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 193-201

First online:

An overview of information ethics issues in a world-wide context

  • Elizabeth A. BuchananAffiliated withSchool of Library and Information Science, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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This article presents an overview of significant issues facing contemporary information professionals. As the world of information continues to grow at unprecedented speed and in unprecedented volume, questions must be faced by information professionals. Will we participate in the worldwide mythology of equal access for all, or will we truly work towards this debatable goal? Will we accept the narrowing of choice for our corresponding increasing diverse clientele? Such questions must be considered in a holistic context and an understanding of the many levels of information inequities is requisite.

Beginning with an historical perspective, Buchanan presents Mustapha Masmoudi's seminal review of forms of information inequities. She then describes qualitative forms of inequities, such as information imperialism and cultural bias embedded in such practices as cataloging and classification. Following, a review of quantitative inequities is presented. Such issues as the growing commoditization of information and information services demand attention from the ethical perspective. And, finally, the Internet and implications surrounding the world-wide dissemination of information is discussed.

The article concludes with an extraction form Richard Sclove's Democracy and Technology, and asks that we as information professionals actively examine the information industry around us and demand a more democratic process within which to work.