ITGS Syllabus

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Topic 25

Equality of access for different groups and individuals by Dhruv

A network is a system of computers interconnected by telephone wires or other means in order to share information. All the computers at, for example, a banking firm, may form a network. They all have information that can be input and read at any of the locations with adequate security clearances. Depending on the levels of clearance, a person has more freedom in a network. The internet is also a network.

1. What are the issues associated with this subject?

There is a certain inequality of access. Only the CEO would be able to view all available information. An accountant could only access transaction records and only the Admin people will have the power to modify the network. Another network privilege would be the Admin people’s abilities to bypass filters that all other employees may be subject too. Everyone does not have equal access to the network. . On the other side, it is possible that control of access, if done fairly, may prevent people from meddling with the network. Censorship, is another issue in network equality. China censors many anti-government websites to control its people. This is inequality of access.

2. How did this technology emerge?

In September 1940 George Stibitz used a teletype machine to send instructions for a problem set from his Model K at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to his Complex Number Calculator in New York and received results back by the same means. This was the precursor to all modern networks.

3. Who are the stakeholders?

The stakeholders are the people who’s access is being restricted and centered and the people doing the ‘restricting’. The restrictors believe that inequality of network access would have a positive impact for their countries or companies. In the case of countries, internet censorship is sometimes abused to maintain a Government’s power such as North Korea. It’s people can’t see the outside world, they don’t understand the faults of there own country.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages for those stake holders?

Let’s talk about companies. The disadvantage for employees is that they are disconnected from other parts of the company. However, the benefit for the company is that people know what the need to know. This leads to better security and efficiency.
However, for countries, restricting internet access allows them only to strengthen there power. It may be detrimental for the people and takes away there freedom. North Korea is a good example for this. Its people don’t understand the flaws of their government cause they have never seen any other government. Maybe they deserve this opportunity to see what the world is like to make a better.

5. What solutions can overcome the problem?

The companies have got it right. They have found a good balance in there restrictions. Regarding North Korea however, the UN may have to put pressure on it to reduce censorship. There is no guarantee that this will work.

6. What areas of impact does it affect?

7. Evaluate the impact locally and globally

It effects the company’s economic well-being, having control over what they view and when they view. It increases productivity. So long as they don’t restrict to a level that frustrates employees completely, and achieve a balance, the company will run smoother and better than without network accessing.
From the point of view of countries, it affects world politics. Censorship In North Korea will leave the people close-minded and possibly supportive of a nuclear war if North Korea gets involved in one. Getting rid of censorship could change the attitudes of people in N.K.

8. What are the ethical issues?

9. Who is responsible?

10. Who is accountable?

The obvious ethical issue would be “is it right to restrict access of something to people?” The people applying restrictions would be responsible for it. Thinking deeper, it is possible that misbehavior by employees may have resulted in a company putting controls on its network access. Indirectly, it can be the people. In the case of NK, it is the government that is responsible. In the same way, the government or people may be held accountable for having unequal internet access.

11. What laws apply?

The laws differ from country to country. Companies are allowed to apply controls on the network access to there employees within the confines of the company network. As countries go, some countries make it illegal to censor websites while others allow it.

12. Are there alternative decisions?

A government could change its policy on censorship and allowing networks to discriminate based on rank. Any number of variations of the present state of affairs could occur.

13. What are the consequences of these decisions?

The consequence of these decisions could be more network freedom for the employees. This may come at the cost of less revenue for companies in light of security risks. People could view whatever they wanted to and disrupt the organization. Even, just casually surfing the net would affect the company’s efficiency. If NK changed its stance on censorship, the government would surely be in trouble when people saw what the outside world was like.


Anonymous said...

Well said, I also think the UN should take a strong action to stop whats happening in North Korea as it is only causing harm. I think you have discussed almost everything in this essay concerning this topic, however I think it would be good if you could add on about the alternatives to how people can overcome censorship, like for example using proxy servers.

Monday, November 27, 2006 4:16:00 AM

Anonymous said...

The internet is mess. There is no order or law. Anyone can post what he or she likes. Until actual laws in regard to order of the world wide web, the ethical issue the
Dhruv proposed is powerless, because no matter how hard goverments try, they can't control the internet. Such laws, sadly, will never come to be, since the only internation body out there is the UN, which appears to be as useful as tape recorder...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 8:15:00 PM

Anonymous said...

It is easy to understand that the balance of efficiency and equity within the networks is a difficult to maintain whomever the authority is. Comprehensive, yet in-depth. NICE.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:28:00 PM

Anonymous said...

Delete the article "a" between networks and diffucult. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:30:00 PM

Anonymous said...

Censorship, as you pointed out is an issue. The Internet has become a new medium for governments to control as part of staying in power.

Another area of censorship that can be discussed is at schools and the workplace. Isn't that against our constitutional rights? It's almost like walking into totalitarian city states.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 1:18:00 AM

harsh said...

I agree with Oli. You should have discussed access of information at places like school and also I can't believe you forgot to mention St.Bernard! We see that thing everyday man! You have witnessed it block some important information (in Hauet's office). That's just not right. Individuals should be able to choose what they want to see.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 2:49:00 AM

Anonymous said...

You have addressed all the questions. Most of them well and concisely. I didn't quite understand what you wrote under alternative decisions. Also, it would have helped if you discussed equality of access (for children and adults as different groups) as in the case of pornography. Not having the same extent of access doesn't necessarily mean unfairness. A clerk might be more likely to divulge company information than a CEO(for money,a whatever reason).
- Aditya Kumar

Friday, December 15, 2006 5:49:00 AM


Blogger sam_shobeiri said...

I agree that its good to limit access in environments such as companies and schools. I also agree that the level of blocking is to a point where everyone is satisfied. For example, in St.Mary's, there are websites blocked. Obviously, no one will have an issue with pornographic sites being blocked. However, youtube being blocked causes many to be frustrated with the blocking system. Balance is indeed important.

January 07, 2007 6:57 PM  
Blogger XiaoxiaoLi said...

Balance is certainly the important thing in this case. Certain sites should and must be blocked in public areas such as school computer lab. Accessing porn and racist sites in these places are not only degrading and also pours a black mark on the institution. Offenders might find it funny at the moment but will sure see the bigger picture. So blocking these sites is a must. But blocking others such as games site and innocent video sites such as youtube is totally redundant. A clear balance should be found.

January 08, 2007 12:16 AM  
Blogger Haider said...

Inequality in access is what allows society to function. Can you imagine a world where everyone knew absolutely everything? What's going to happen to all the great empires that have formed over inequality of access to information?

I believe in the equality of access to information, but the true stakeholders, i.e. the big companies and governments exist because of it.

January 25, 2007 2:16 PM  

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