ITGS Syllabus

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Topic 127

Ethical issues related to misuse of the Internet, for example, spamming by HeeJun Son

As Internet is being used everywhere in anytime and more people demand access on the Internet, problems concerned with misuse of Internet has arisen seriously. Misuse of the Internet means some people take advantage of the Internet by utilizing illegal or immoral means to get benefits themselves. The common examples of the misuse of the Internet are spamming (especially that of e-mail), online fraud (identity theft), virus, pornography (particularlly child porn) and many more.

Everyday when we check our e-mail, we see unwelcomed mails like ones that advertise "hot" girls or new innovative products. Most spam mails are sent from unknown guys who have very strange mail address. Those mails are one sort of spamming. When we talk about spamming, most of the time we assume it is e-mail spamming, because it is the most common form of spamming, but the term can be used sin some other media of communication. Spam in blogs, mobile phone messaging spam, and instant messaging spam are other kinds of spamming. By the definition, spamming means the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, undesired bulk messages.

E-mail spamming, the most common form of spamming, is favored by spammers because it does not have any cost except their effort to find the mail address lists, and it is easy to send (you just have to copy the context, paste and click "send" button). Although it may be easy for spammers to send spam, it is very annoying and vexing for recipients because of hard working of deleting the whole bulk of spam mails. When we say email spam, it can be confused with legimate commercial email. There is a difference between spam and legimate commercial email: spam is sent without permission of the recipients and most of the time it contains many tricks to avoid e-mail filtering while legimate commercial email is sent with permission only when you have agreed to receive the mail. So email from Apple advertising new iPhone is not spam, but the legal email since that mail wouldn't have come if you had not agreed with Apple.

Some evil spammers create and send email viruses to innocent people so when they open the mail, their computers are infected. There can also be an infection of viruses when you open the website designated to contain viruses. Some programs you download from the Internet may contain some form of viruses. As we see from these common examples, there are a lot of problems concerned with viruses on the Internet.

Online fraud has become one of the biggest problems caused by the misuse of the Internet. Someone may represent himself to be an administrator of a famous bank, and ask you for the password of your saving account. Younger people who know about online fraud more than elders somewhat often do not get in much trouble. But relatively older people, who do not have much knowledge of Internet, can get involved in a lot of trouble. They are quite easy to deceive in swindlers' view.

As we can see from email spamming, virus, and online fraud, there are a lot of ethical issues concerned. We should quickly find a way to solve these kinds of problems as soon as possible. But we know it is not going to be easy thing to achieve. It will take long time to solve problems of misuse of the Internet. Bill Gates, speaking at the World Economic Forum in January 2004, mentioned that Microsoft was working on the solutions to spam so that spam would be "a thing of the past." But no one can predict when it is going to be.


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