It's useful to take a brief look at the history
of the Internet, which is related to some of these issues.
Some sites with links to histories are
The Internet and the World Wide Web have grown
rapidly from a research project into something that involves millions
of people worldwide. Much of the Internet's usefulness comes from the
fact that it is shared by users, service providers, and others, in the
sense that each depends on the other and needs to support the other. Hopefully,
that sort of sharing and respect will continue. Your behavior, your expectations
for others, and your activities will make the difference.
"It is important to realize that the Web is what we make it. 'We' being
the people who read, the people who teach children how to surf the Web,
the people who put information up on the Web. Particularly the people
who make links.... The Web doesn't force anything down your throat. If
you are worried that your children are going to read low-quality information,
teach them. Teach them what to read. Teach them how to judge information."
Tim Berners-Lee (Scientific American Dec 97)
Privacy and Civil Liberties
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was formed in 1990 to,
among other things, bring issues dealing with civil liberties related
to computing and telecommunications technology to the attention
of the public at large, legislators, and court and law enforcement
officials. As a nonprofit public interest organization, EFF maintains
collections of files and documents. You may want to visit the home
page of the EFF or view the EFF's FTP archives . An excellent collection
of Web documents and resources related to privacy is maintained
by Lorrie Cranor.
Some good articles on privacy are
A complete and excellent resource for information about electronic
EPIC Online Guide to Privacy Resources ,maintained by the Electronic
Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
Two other places you may want to look are
| E-Mail Privacy
When you send a message by e-mail, the message is broken into packets
and the packets are sent out over the Internet. The number of packets
depends on the size of the message. Each message has the Internet
address of the sender (your address) and the address of the recipient.
Packets from a single message may take different routes to the destination,
or may take different routes at different times. This works well
for the Internet and for you since packets are generally sent through
the best path depending on the traffic load on the Internet, the
path doesn't depend on certain systems being in operation, and all
you have to give is the address of the destination.
The packets making up an e-mail message may pass through several
different systems before reaching their destination. This means
there may be some places between you and the destination where the
packets could be intercepted and examined.
||One example of a law to ensure the privacy of e-mail
is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) passed in 1986
With public key encryption there are two keys, one public and the
other private. The public key needs to be known. To send a message
to a friend, you use her or his public key to encrypt the message.
Your friend then uses her or his private key to decode the message
after receiving it.
You can obtain a version of public key encryption software called
PGP, Pretty Good Privacy.
To read more about PGP, look at
Material and Pornography
There are a number of programs that can be installed on a computer
to restrict the material that can be accessed on the World Wide
Web. The programs work with lists of Web and ways of describing
the content of Web pages to filter material. One source of information
about these programs and related topics is PEDINFO Parental Control of Internet Access.
The culture of the Internet has fostered personal rights and liberties,
so some argue it's content ought not be restricted or censored.
There are laws banning or restricting pornography; some countries
have more stringent laws than others and some laws restrict the
distribution of the material.
For more material on these topics see
Some resources for guidelines for Ethics and Net Etiquette
These Web pages contain links to lots of resources about proper etiquette
and ethical behavior on the web or Internet.
|Inappropriate Business Practices
||It is common to find advertising, marketing, and commercial activities
readily available on the World Wide Web, and most of is done in a
responsible manner. BUT
- One particularly offensive means of advertising is called spamming.
When used in this way the term means sending a message to many
unrelated newsgroups or interest groups. It's not too hard to
do, but it almost always is met with great opposition and feelings
of hatred. One way to deal with it is to send a copy of the message
and a complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some information about Spamming
|| Some interesting resources about libel.
Intellectual Property and Copyright
The notion of ownership of something, whether it has a physical
form, does still make sense as intellectual property. There are
a number of laws and agreements throughout the world to protect
intellectual property rights. The right to copy or duplicate materials
can be granted only by the owners of the information. This is called
the copyright. Many documents on the Internet contain a statement
that asserts the document is copyrighted and gives permission for
distributing the document in an electronic form, provided it isn't
sold or made part of some commercial venture. Even items that don't
contain these statements are protected by the copyright laws of
the United States, the Universal Copyright Convention, or the Berne
Union. Most of the copyright conventions or statutes include a provision
so that individuals may make copies of portions of a document for
short-term use. If information is obtainable on the Internet, and
there is no charge to access the information, it often can be shared
in an electronic form. That certainly doesn't mean you can copy
images or documents and make them available on the Internet, or
make copies and share them in a printed form with others. Quite
naturally, many of the folks who create or work at providing material
available on the Internet, expect to get credit and be paid for
Some links to information about Intellectual Property and Copyright
Access-What Type at What Cost?
||Getting connected to the Internet is an economic and technical issue.
Many considerations go into the choice of a provider. Naturally, you're
interested in the cost of the service, but the type of service needs
to be specified, as it usually determines the cost. This is where
technical issues come into play. Items to consider are the speed at
which you access the Internet, the types of services provided, the
fee structure, and associated costs for access. If you're going to
use Netscape Navigator or some other graphical WWW browser, you'll
need a full Internet connection, called an IP connection, to be able
to run Internet application programs on your computer system. You'll
probably want the connection to be at a higher speed, such as 14.4K,
28.8K, or 56K bits per second or greater. With an IP connection, the
computer you use contains a network card with a cable connected to
it, or your computer has SLIP or PPP access. (These are also discussed
in Chapter 1
and Chapter 2.)
Fee structures vary, and you need to choose what best fits your needs.
Some providers charge a flat monthly or yearly fee, regardless of
how much the connection is used, and others charge a base rate for
a certain amount of hours per month, and then you pay extra if you're
connected for a longer period of time. Some sites also allow a fixed
amount of storage for files at the flat rate, and then charge extra
if more is used. Finally, you need to consider any associated costs
such as a start-up fee and communication charge-phone calls, modems,
cable access fees, etc. What may turn out to be the most important
item is support, someone to provide help and guidance when you or
the users on your system need it.
Some resources in this area.
||One thing that's made the Internet so lively and engaging is that
it is a two-way connection. Anyone can be an information receiver
or consumer, and just as importantly, anyone can be an information
provider or producer. At the present time there is no central control
of the Internet, so the topics discussed and ideas expressed range
through a variety of subjects. Some of the topics are politically
popular and some are not, some support actions of local governments,
and others are critical of those actions. But the primary point is
that the discussions go on. A network such as the Internet allows
the people who use it to organize for or against national or international
issues. Issues can be discussed and calls for action disseminated.
If the Internet were run or designed in the same way as radio or television-essentially
a one-way communication medium-it wouldn't be such a vigorous, interesting
There are, of course, down sides to this two-way access without
central control. This type of access has been used to offend and
abuse others, and for uncontrolled marketing. Remember, the Internet
is a cooperative venture -- people sharing resources, services,
and ideas. There are appropriate places for discussions on all sorts
of topics and for both commercial and non commercial activities.
| Universal or
As the Internet grows in both the number of users and the physical
structures needed to support it, it reaches a size sufficient to
be called an infrastructure. An infrastructure is a basic service
or facility necessary to support a community or society. If it is
so important to society, then it seems reasonable that everyone
should have access to it. This is the case in some parts of the
world where access to the Internet is part of a national public
utility. Many more nations deal with access to a voice network,
the telephone network, in much the same way. As more persons learn
about and use the Internet and World Wide Web in schools and their
work, it's reasonable to provide Internet access to them when they
leave those environments.
One successful means of providing community access to the Internet
and the WWW is a Free-Net. A Free-Net allows
anyone with a computer and modem to obtain a login account and have
access to the Internet. Membership in a Free-Net is usually either
free to members of the local community or within the means of members
of the community. Several Free-Nets exist throughout the world.
The first, the Cleveland
Free-Net, was established in Cleveland, Ohio by T. M. Grundner and others as a means to deliver community health
||A Free-Net or Community Network is an example of a community providing
its own solutions to some of the problems of Internet access for all
its members. An organization to coordinate information about community
networks is the Organization
for Community Networks.
When you use a computer system connected to the Internet, you're
able to reach a rich variety of sites and information. By the same
token, any system connected to the Internet can be reached in some
manner by any of the other computer systems connected to the Internet.
Partaking of the material on the Internet also means that you have
to be concerned about the security of your computer system and other
You don't want unauthorized persons accessing your information
or information belonging to others who share your system-you want
to protect your system from malicious or unintentional actions that
could destroy stored information or halt your system. You don't
want others masquerading as you. You need to be concerned about
the security of other systems so you can have some faith in the
information you retrieve from those systems, and so you can conduct
A lack of security results in damage, theft, and what may be worse
in some cases, a lack of confidence or trust.
Hyperlinks to sites that have information about computer and Internet
If you access the Internet by logging into a computer system, your
primary defense against intrusion is your password. You need to choose
a password that will be difficult to guess. This means choosing a
password that's at least six characters long. You'll also want to
use a password contain upper- and lowercase letters and some nonalphabetic
characters. Additionally, the password shouldn't represent a word,
and it shouldn't be something that's easy to identify with you such
as a phone number, room number, birthdate, or license number.
Some Web resources about choosing good passwords
Because connecting a network to the Internet allows access to that
network, system administrators and other persons concerned with network
security are very concerned about making that connection. One device
or part of a network that can help enhance security is called a firewall.
To find out more about firewalls read Internet
Firewalls Frequently Asked Questions
One type of program that causes problems for Internet users is
called a virus. This doesn't necessarily copy your data or
attempt to use your system. However, it can make it difficult or
impossible to use your system. A virus is a piece of code or instructions
that attaches itself to existing programs. Just like a biological
virus, a computer virus can't run or exist on its own, but must
be part of an executing program. When these programs are run, the
added instructions are also executed. For more information on viruses,
check the hyperlinks at Other
Sources of Virus Information.
Internet security is very important to many users, as well it should
be. We need to make sure that messages are private and that monetary
transactions and data sources are secure. A good document to read
about security and privacy is Identity,
Privacy, and Anonymity on the Internet by L. Detweiler.
The Trail You Leave
When You Use the Web. A brief description of log files kept
by Web servers, cookies, and the information about how you use the
Web that's saved in the browser's cache and history list.
To see some papers and other resources dealing with electronic
commerce, go the Web page ISWorld Net Electronic Commerce Course Page . Other information
about commercial activities on the Internet is available through
Some resources for Electronic Banking and Electronic Payment Systems: