following abstracts/full texts include also contributions from ICIE members
that will not be face-to-face present during the workshop.These virtual
contributions are marked with an *
Hausmanninger: Attack of the Cyber-Controllers: Which Sort of Ethics
Do We Need on the Net?
sequitur esse. Ontological Foundations of Informations Ethics
journalism raises new ethical questions
Sandbothe: Medienethische Aspekte der neuen Ökonomie
Kettner: Globale Informationsethik und Frankfurter Diskurstheorie
Gopal: Impressing Software Engineers on the Vitality of Ethics
- aber welche?
Weber: IT Security, Civil Rights, and Open Source
of the Cyber-Controllers: Which Sort of Ethics Do We Need on the Net?
paper concerns itself not with the total realm of information ethics but
concentrates on the communicative aspects of the internet. Using an older
term, we could say, it focuses on computer mediated communications (CMC),
now possible over the net and accompanied by the net´s commercialisation.
Bodies and Bytes: Taking a look at the euphorical SciFi-approach of some
cyberspace-philosophers, who acclaim internet-communication as something
immaterial done by New Immaterial Beings, the paper first tries to ground
these new communicative processes. Already the early experiences of the
interactions via Bulletin Board Systems showed, that virtual acts and modes
of behaviour have consequences for the Real-Live of those interacting.
Furthermore the Real-Live conditions of people constitute a specific materialistic
base for their chances to use internet-communication and for their actions
in the seemingly virtual realm.
the Net: The 'embeddedness' of the net in the Real World and the impact
of virtual communications on Real-Live - on the other hand - are quite
exeedingly thematised by the traditional media and often feared by those
who don´t have much experience as users. In this climate and furthered
by certain pressure-groups regulations start to loom over the net. To avoid
being hit by the blunt instruments of iuridical and institutional regulation
on the nation-state-level, self-regulation by means of rating and filtering
is largely promoted lately by the industry and politicians alike. That
approach and it´s software-instruments more or less tend to suspend
ethics and ethical discourses in favour of pragmatical solutions - missing
out, that rating and filtering includes normative decisions - or at least
normative selectivity - and therefore moral implications. The need to secure
the effectiveness of self-rating and to control unrated content furthermore
leads to the creation of a system of international institutionalized cooperation,
that threatens to primarily strengthen the most restrictive and reactionary
groups among users and lay content-governance into their hands.
Ethics: The need for ethical reflections and ethical discourses therefore
cannot be suspended by the pragmatical politics of rating and filtering.
Understandable demands for means of filtering on behalf of the protection
of children and young people therefore have to be embedded in these discourses.
The same applies to demands of political regulation on behalf of guarding
democratic states against anti-democratic agitations (a topic strangely
remote to most current rating and filtering solutions). To be able to move
towards ethical concepts for the net, the actual uses and user-realms of
the net have to be considered. In contrast to the eulogies of the net having
created something like Global Communications Unhindered, cyberspace knows
it´s own borders and specific routes of communication-streams - which
form a sort of new virtual territories, transnational but not global. Regarding
that reality of net-communications, it may be possible to view internet-ethics
as a bundle of various reflective - and scientifically substantiated -
morals, that are primarily valid for those subscribing to them on behalf
of their Real-World cultural settings - but that may perhaps begin to approach
each other thanks to their simultaneous presence in the potential realm
of transnational accessability.
sequitur esse. Ontological Foundations of Informations Ethics
ethics is confronted with the challenge of thinking about the conditions
of possibility of living projected by the digital casting of being. As
the scholastic said: modus operandi sequitur modum essendi. Action
follows being. We live in the information age. But what is information?
It is one of the most controversial concepts of the 20th century. This
paper summarizes this controversy between culturalists and naturalists.
One solution to this dilemma are the paths of thinking opened up by the
physicist Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker who connects the concept of
information with such traditional concepts as idea, eidos
and morphé as coined by Plato and Aristotle. Another path
is the one suggested by the Oxford philosopher Luciano Floridi in his paper:
On the philosophical Foundations of Computer Ethics". I will argue
that Floridi's ontology remains ontic, i.e. that it does not open the question
of being underlying today's digital casting. In other words, it does not
state the question of this casting as a casting of being. What follows
from this? I will argue that in order to demythologize today's digital
casting it is necessary to find a path for thinking and action that may
make us aware of the relativity of today's digital ontology. Heidegger's
question of being needs to be retrieved. Today's digital ethos seems
to be at the opposite of existential phenomenology.
III of http://www.capurro.de/EEI21.htm
well as in: http://www.capurro.de/digont.htm
journalism raises new ethical questions
journalism, does it raise new moral problems? Or is it just a matter of
old wine in new bottles? And how does journalism react on the new issues,
if any, of online journalism? Is it meaningful and desirable to develop
self regulation instruments, e.g. ethical guidelines, for this new kind
of journalism on the Internet?
the online version of the newspapers, only to a certain degree new dilemmas
come up for discussion, since the reputation of credibility and carefulness
of the papers, in spite of all criticism, does apply to the online version
as well. Besides, there is the so called dotcom journalism, the e-zines,
the online news sites without any relationship with printed newspapers.
That might be the reason why these sites don't have any commitment to the
moral standards, mainly created in the journalistic culture of the newspapers.
the Internet, the flow of information is unstoppable, without regard to
the quality of truthfulness. Speed is allied to a lack of carefulness.
The news is being published immediately, added and corrected afterwards.
The one who has important news first on his site, is sure of the attention
of all. Speed and scoops are getting more and more important in the Internet
context, especially because of commercial interests. News sites don't have
any paid subscription, but are dependent on earnings from ads. This could
easily be at the expense of carefulness and credibility.
outstanding moral issue in online journalism is the conflict of interests,
the removal of the separation between editorial and commercial aspects.
far is a journalist allowed to go in cyberspace? Is he permitted to hang
around unobserved in chat rooms? That means the online variant of undercover
about the risk of professional standards getting into hot water, when people
outside professional journalism are reporting important events in news
interactivity of online journalism offers opportunities to a more open
and direct communication between journalists and their public. Through
e-mail, the public can easier gain access to the editorial staff members,
so that errors and omissions can be earlier and easier corrected and added
and that reports can be commented by readers. The public can play the role
of watchdog and make an appeal to the social responsibility of the medium.
On the other hand, interactivity offers journalists an excellent opportunity
to give explanation and to be accountable.
Aspekte der neuen Ökonomie
System der Medien organisiert sich gegenwärtig auf internationaler
Ebene neu. Im Zentrum dieses medialen Selbstorganisationsprozesses steht
die Ökonomisierung der digitalen Medienwelt. Dabei handelt es sich
um ein risikoreiches, weil in gewisser Weise paradoxes Geschehen. Denn
das Leitmedium der digitalen Medienwelt – das Internet - hat sich in den
siebziger und achtziger Jahren aufgrund seiner offenen und antihierachischen
Netzwerkstruktur als ein dezidiert nichtkommerziell organisierter Kulturraum
entwickelt. Die neue Ökonomie des E-Commerce zielt, indem sie die
Kommerzialisierung dieses Kulturraums betreibt, auf eine Vermarktung des
Sich-der-Vermarktung-bisher-Entziehenden. Daraus ergibt sich sowohl die
milliardenschwere Faszination als auch das mit dieser verbundene hohe Risikopotential
strukturelle Unberechenbarkeit, welche die neue Ökonomie auf der Objektebene
durch die Berechenbarmachung des Unberechenbaren auszutreiben versucht,
kehrt auf der Metaebene wieder. Und zwar in Gestalt der internen Unberechenbarkeit,
die den Prozeß der Ökonomisierung des Cyberspace selbst charakterisiert.
Die zentrale Herausforderung für den sich gegenwärtig vollziehenden
Kommerzialisierungsprozeß besteht in der Ausbildung eines Medienmanagements,
das die beschriebene Paradoxie in sich aufheben und damit auf systemerhaltende
Weise meistern kann.
Vortrag gliedert sich in drei Teile. Der erste Teil befaßt sich mit
der Frage, wie ein solches Medienmanagement aussehen könnte. Dabei
wird sich zeigen, daß die sozialen und politischen Kosten, die sich
mit der Etablierung dieses Managements verbinden, in eine langfristig kalkulierende
Bilanz einzubeziehen sind. Vor diesem Hintergrund problematisieren der
zweite und dritte Teil des Vortrags den aktuellen Kommerzialisierungsprozeß
auf jeweils unterschiedliche Art und Weise. Der zweite Teil geht der Möglichkeit
nach, daß durch die digitalen Medienwelten ein Horizont jenseits
des Ökonomischen eröffnet wird, der den Kapitalismus ein Stück
weit transzendiert, indem er das moderne Meta-Medium des Geldes nicht länger
als letzte Referenz anerkennt. Dieser Transzendierungsperspektive stellt
der dritte Teil eine vermittelnde Option gegenüber. In ihrem Zentrum
steht die Entwicklung eines dezidiert demokratischen Kapitalismuskonzepts,
das die bisherigen Formen des E-Commerce durch intelligentere, den digitalen
Medienwelten angemessenere Kommerzialisierungkonzepte zu ersetzen vorschlägt.
Informationsethik und Frankfurter Diskurstheorie
werde eine diskurstheoretische Bestimmung der Praxis geltungbeanspruchenden
Argumentierens zugrundelegen - Argumentieren ist das Bewerten von Gründen
mit Gründen -, und versuchen einzuschätzen, welche Charakteristika
von Web-Kommunikation sich welche Art von Geltungsanspruch bzw. Diskurstypus
förderlich oder hinderlich ist. Es geht also um Zusammenhänge
zwischen webbasierter Kommunikationspraxis und Standards diskursiver Rationalität.
Begriff diskursiver Rationalität sind von meinen eigenen Texten zwei
Gründe", in: K.-O. Apel & M. Kettner (Hg.): Die eine Vernunft
und die vielen Rationalitäten. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 1996.
Thoughts abouth Argumentative Discourse, Good Reasons, and Communicative
Rationality" In: Solveig Boe, Bengt Molander, Brit Strandhagen (Hg.): i
foerste, andre og tredje person. Festskrift til Audun Oefsti. Trondheim
(NTNU Filosofisk institutt) 1999 (S.223-234).
of Computer Science and Engineering
- 600 025, India
Software Engineers on the Vitality of Ethics
Science and Information Technology are rapidly
changing fields with a wide range of subjects that needs to
be studied. A typical curriculum at any level struggles
fit in the entire spectrum of topics either
as core or elective subjects. A full course on "Ethics
(Values/Morals)" is difficult to fit into a curriculum. Efforts are
underway in the country to introduce
one such course in the Engineering
curriculum by order. Such a course if and when introduced
is most likely to be very early (I semester) where the notions discussed
would be very generic.
the presumption has been that the "Ethics relatedtopics" are
fully taught at the pre-university level. Now, a compulsory
course at the University level provides some reinforcement
but does not ensure the application to
the software engineers need to be constantly made awareof the vital
aspects such as ethics in a informal way right through the
engineering education at any level. The author reaches this
conclusion due to two important observations :
Ethics cannot be practised simply by reading the textbooks
Good behaviour/manners does not imply good
basis for the work of the author is
the Software Engineer's Code of ethics jointly framed by the IEEE
Computer Society and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM).
aspects enshrined in this document demand that a variety of oppurtunities
that need to be provided to the students to strengthen
capacity of discipline
a keen sense of goals, values and processes of a free society
participation in teams
such as the Personal and Team Software Processes are quite
rigorous. Thus, Software Engineering ethics is a continuous
process (not a one off course) that forms the undercurrent
in a Computer Science/Information Technology curriculum.
paper discusses one such process.
are influencing every facet of human endeavour.They
have become an indispensible tool and are playing
a pivotal role in improving the quality
of life of an individual. Software engineers
are responsible for creating computer based applications that effect
the society at large. The applications range from office productivity
packages to interconnected appliances at home. It is the software
that is vital in mission critical endeavours such
as nuclear reactors, satellite launch and monitoring.
engineers contribute to the enormous corpus
of computer programs developed across the globe by
involving themselves in teaching, analysis, specification,
design, development, certification, maintenance
and testing of software systems. Hence software
engineers have significant opportunities to do good or cause
harm, to enable others to do good or cause harm, or to influence
others to do good or cause harm.
ensure, as much as possible, that their efforts will be used
for good, software engineers are expected to adhere to a Code of
Ethics and Professional practice.
Code of Ethics developed jointly by the IEEE and ACM has eight
principles related to the behavior of and decisions
made by professional software
engineers, including practitioners, educators,
managers, supervisors and policy makers, as well as trainees
and students of the profession.
individual parts of the Code are never to be used
in isolation to justify errors of omission or commission. Each
principle has a set of clauses that
are by no means exhaustive. The code is not an algorithm
and it requires the application of human acumen and keen sense of
judgement. The code of ethics is not merely a basis for judgement.
It is a way of life for every software engineering professional
and teams of such professionals.
Principles of the Code of Ethics
engineers shall act consistently with the public interest.
2 CLIENT AND EMPLOYER
engineers shall act in a manner that is in the best interests of
their client and employer and that is consistent with the public
engineers shall ensure that their products
and related modifications meet the highest professional standards possible.
engineers shall maintain integrity and independence in their
engineering managers and leaders shall subscribe to and promote an
ethical approach to the management of software development and maintenance
engineers shall advance the integrity and reputation of the
profession consistent with the public interest.
engineers shall be fair to and supportive of their colleagues.
engineers shall participate in lifelong learning regarding
the practice of their profession and promote an ethical
approach to the practice of the profession.
entrenched in the clauses corresponding to
each principle are the notions of responsibility, co-operation,
pronounced ability to make correct judgements,
clear and precise communication capability, great degree
of personal quality, uprightness and self-restraint. All these facets
of the software engineer have to come into focus
under high pressure situations that are the norm
in teh modern day software development environments.
dynamic and demanding context of software engineering
does lead to piquant situations and ethical tensions inspite of this
code of ethics. In all such situations the judgement must be
in favour of enhancing the 'public interest' or
minimal damage to the society effected. Moreover, the
code has to be adaptable to cater to new situations and challenges faced
by the profession of software engineering.
the author opines that Ethics and Morals cannot be a single
course at the beginning of the Undergraduate
or Postgraduate programme. The imparting of the Code of Ethics
must be a continuing process that forms the undercurrent of
every software engineering programme. it is vital but is an
undercurrent in the programme. The students
tend to be enamoured by exciting course titles and contents
that can be readily related to the current trends. The
onus is thus on the teachers of Software Engineering
programmes to impress the students on the vitality of the code
of ethics and moral practices. This paper sketches a
process to achieve this desirable goal.
The perceived industry environment
strong opinion amongst students and society
is that business is powered by inherently non-moral motivation.
This is proving to be a major hurdle in
inculcating ethical approaches in the students of software engineering.
is true that most business decisions are driven by a clear profit
motive. The relationship between self-interest,
ethical considerations and the profit motive
is grossly misunderstood by the students.
is the 'concern for one's own personal good' and is often
used as a synonym for 'welfare', 'well-being', 'flourishing', 'utility'
and 'advantage'. This notion should not be contrived to make
people necessarily do only what is most advantageous to them. Students
must learn to foster the development
of some dispositions to make sacrifices for
certain others. Clear economic rewards appeal to the
self-interest and can elicit hard work, innovation amd
personal risk. This is not 'selfishness' wherein one is concerned only
about self even at the cost of serious
consequences to others.
is perforce not immoral. An appreciation of this
helps students create a passion for the work assigned. If it
is complemented by right measure of compassion by the superiors one
gets committed to the organisation. Self-interest
is bound by the rules and regulations of the business context.
Prohibitions on lying, stealing, injuring, promise-breaking are important
in any business context.
author deems it important to impress the students that businesses
admit that there are limits to the amount of self-sacrifice that can be
businessmanis often projected as one
who has no alternative, largely due to the
intense competition, to do anything other than
buy at the cheapest and sell at the dearest price
he can. This is not an irrational projection and appeals
to the common sense. Well, the businessman
operates within the framework of the law. As long as
this framework is kept intact the businessman can focus only
on maximising the profits without being constrained by moral or social
considerations or any other sense of responsibility. This is
a false notion of 'economic determinism'. The iron laws
governing the businessess are themselves not made of
iron and leave a wide range of alternative courses of action at every
step of the business.
the standards enforced by the law need
to be supplemented by the moral standards of the businessmen.
Yes, it cannot be denied that businessmen are shy of
moral arguments. This is partly because
morals are unduly simplistic and appear
to be remote from the pragmatics of business decision
making process. Moreover, once gien a
the moral and ethical considerations can end up
being very demanding and perceptibly counterproductive to the business.
businessmen often take recourse to
'discretionary powers' to cater to the moral
and ethical aspects of 'decision-making'. Typically,
the higher the rank in an organisation the
wider is the range of the 'discretionary powers'. The
process of exercising these powers is often a keen tussle between
unenlightened self-interest stemming from scepticism to do anything otherwise
and a sense of furthering the interst of atleast a majority of the
usage of 'discretinary powers' happens amidst
the conflicting obligations to six sorts of 'stakeholders'
or business partners. The six sorts of 'stakeholders' are
the society as a whole including the industry or trade and fairplay to
is interesting to observe that this approach can easily be mapped onto
to an individual and the team. The complexity of decision making
is understandably not to a high degree.
much of the 'business ethics' can be taught formally to a student
is a moot point. Can an academic
insititution consider imparting 'business ethics' as a dignified
activity is another pertinent issue. Even if the academic isntitutions
attempt to teach 'business ethics' teh methodology is often far
flung from the reality in a business house. No academic institution
can compile a collection, say 1000,
solved problems of life.
exposure to 'business ethics' is thus not merely a drill in
developing cognitive skills for analysing design
and decision alternatives. However, these are the skills that are taught,
tested and graded in a typical academic environment.It can neither
be a set of discouses or moral sermons forming a course of
certain duration. The author thus suggests a process
that has several aspects that cannot be tested and graded
to impress the software engineers on the vitality of ethics.
The first step is to dispel the myths about
the industry environment.
process brings into focus the humanity perspectives of the
businesses, leadership and character perspectives
of individuals running these businesses. The process is put
on rails by close mentoring that inculcates passion, compassion, and commitment
for ethics and moral aspects.
mentioned in the previous section, the
process of impressing the students about the vitality
of ethics has several aspects that are not tested and graded.
This process centers around three major issues :
the development of a vision for one's life
the development of one's character, dealing with concerns of direction
and quality of life.
the development of competence that deals with concerns of how
well one is able to do something.
good or bad, is observable. Any effort at
impacting the character of the student has to address the following
what is good character;
what causes or prevents it;
how can it be measured so that efforts at improvement can have corrective
how can it best be developed?
has good character was to inculcate traits or values appropriate
for the industrial age such as obedience to authority, work ethic,
working in group under supervision, etc. However, the information
age demands traits such as truthfulness, honesty, integrity,
individual responsibility, humility, wisdom, justice, steadfastness,
development is influenced by
early childhood experience
modeling by important adults and older youth
the general physical and social environment
the communications media
what is taught in the schools and other institutions
specific situations and roles that elicit corresponding
list is from the 'least tractable aspects' to the 'most tractable
aspects'. The author deems it wise to involve the parents in certain
appropriate metrics for 'character' are proving to be
elusive. The author believes that wihtout
appropriate metrics, the quality of the process being suggested
has no real significance. At the moment, some of the metrics
being used are :
Preparedness for listening to the lecture by finding out
answers to the questions given in the previous lecture
Ability to find new and relevant information
Sharing the information found with the fellow students(who are also competitors
Independent work during tests and assignments
process is still evolving. These aspects
are not included in the final grading.
need to define character development in terms of the three components
of mind: (cognition, affect, conation) and the component
of behavior. This behavior has two
aspects: personal issues such as being courageous and self-disciplined
and social issues such as being compassionate, courteous, and trustworthy.
cannot teach our students all the specific knowledge,
values, or behaviors that will lead to success in all aspects of
their lives. We must therefore acknowledge that
some values are relative and teach students to develop their
own views accordingly. At the same time, we must acknowledge that there
are some absolutes with respect to
morality and character. Any framework for impacting moral
and character development is arbitrary unless
it is based on some philosophical foundation.
In a secular country like India, it is
not easy to enforce a set of ethics based on religion. Thus,
under scrutiny are largely 'work ethics' and not 'personal
framework impacting the ethics warrants
the exercising of authority in a firm, sensitive,
and imaginative manner
structuring so that pupils are surrounded by a variety of opportunities
for them to practice helping (prosocial) conduct;
a management that provides pupils--both individually and collectively--with
many forms of recognition for good conduct;
orientation towards maintaining systems of
symbols, slogans, ceremonies, and songs that
heighten pupils' collective identities;
clear, widely disseminated discipline codes
that ar vigorously enforced and backed up with vital consequences;
committment to academic instruction and
appropriate academic rigor;
sensitivity to the need to develop
collective pupil loyalties to particular classes, clubs, athletic
groups, and other subentities
sympathetic view to the values of the external
adult society, and perceive it as largely
supportive and concerned with the problems of the students
to enlisting the help, counsel, and support of parents
and other external adults, but willing to propose important constructive
changes in the face of (sometimes) ill-informed parent resistance
addition, the author exposes the students to
various facets of 'Emotional Intelligence' very subtly
during the regular lecture sessions.
results are encouraging and effort is on to extend the observations
to beyond the precincts of the classroom.
Spotting the students of the course or under my advice in the library,
canteen, computer center and at random places and making
observations is proving to be effective.
Formal sessions on 'Emotional Intelligence' are being contemplated
to train the students to tide over the ethical
dilemmas mentioned in Section 2.
is taking about 14 months to see any significant results even when the
group has only 15 students at the Masters degree level. The author has
begun work on a group of 30 students at the Under-Graduate level. The author
expects that it
would take about 24 months in the normal course to see any significant
catalyse this process courses in Personal Quality and Ability enhancement
such as the Personal Software Process are on the anvil.
Alfie Kohn, 'How not
to Teach Values'
Christopher Cowton and Roger Crisp (Eds),
'BusinessEthics', Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998.
Huitt W, 'Moral and
John I Godlad, Roger Soder and Kenneth A Sirotnik (Eds), 'The
Moral Dimensions of Teaching',
Jossey-Bass Publishers, Oxford, 1990.
Watts S Humphrey, 'Managing the Software
Process', Addison-Wesley, 1999.
Watts S Humphrey, 'Team Software Process and Personal
Software Process', Addison-Wesley, 2000.
Zentrum für Ethik in den Wissenschaften
17, 72074 Tübingen
- aber welche?
Informationsethik ist ein Forschungszweig mit emanzipatorischem Anspruch.
Normative Grundlage ihrer Praxis ist das Grundrecht auf freie Meinungsäußerung
und freie Informationsbeschaffung. Die Interpretation und Umsetzung dieser
Grundrechte ist geleitet durch eine allgemeine Idee von Freiheit, die gemäß
der unterschiedlichen Weltanschauungen variiert und auch in verschiedenen
Medientechniken und ihren Nutzungsweisen zum Ausdruck kommt. Der Rundfunk
einerseits und das Internet andererseits spiegeln ideologische Brüche
im Kontext des Freiheitsverständnisses besonders deutlich wider. Der
folgende Beitrag soll zeigen, welche Differenzen Rundfunk und Internet
in Bezug auf den zugrundeliegenden Freiheitsbegriff und den daraus hervorgehenden
Kommunikationszielen aufweisen. Es wird der These nachgegangen, dass die
Informations- und Kommunikationstechnik einem Verständnis entspricht,
das Freiheit als Unabhängigkeit von allen Beschränkungen, in
normativer und materialer Perspektive, interpretiert, wogegen die Rundfunktechnik
auf einen normgeprägten und kontextuell relativierten Autonomiebegriff
zurückgeht. Desweiteren soll gezeigt werden, dass die ideelle Unabhängigkeit
des Cyberspace auf der Opposition zu real existierenden Missständen
beruht. Grundlage dieser Positionierung ist eine sozialromantische Vision
der Erschaffung einer neuen Welt. „Virtuelle Gemeinschaften“ sind somit
als Krisenindikatoren moderner, ausdifferenzierter Gesellschaften zu deuten.
Diese Form von Gemeinschaftsideal basiert im Unterschied zu vergangenheitsorientierten
Utopien gerade auf den Hervorbringungen der modernen westlichen Gesellschaften:
den elektronischen Kommunikationsnetzwerken und einer dichotomischen Subjektkonzeption.
University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Germany
Security, Civil Rights, and Open Source
the debates about the US presidential election 2000 I saw a discussion
on CNN, in which the spectators of this program had the opportunity to
ask questions to some experts. One of those questions was about the possibility
of voting via the Internet. Unfortunately, I was too late so I didn't hear
the answer to this interesting question. Because of this I asked myself,
which pro- and counterarguments for i-voting exist. At first glance, there
are much more arguments pro i-voting than against, but looking farther,
the problem runs deeper, since i-voting could affect some of our civil
I would like to show that there's a strong relationship between IT security,
civil rights, and Open Source. My hypothesis is that without using Open
Source software in state institutions it wouldn't be possible to produce
the highest level of IT security and therefore it wouldn't be possible
to fulfill the idea of civil rights in the area of state institutions.
I would like to show this with the example of software for i-voting: software
that should make it possible to vote via the Internet. I will use this
example, since the right to vote is a kind of paradigm of civil rights
and this is true for all democratic nations states and institutions.
of the most important principles of western style democracy is the principle
of "one man, one vote". Citizens of democratic states have the civil right
to vote as a key part of their participation in policy making. It is an
important task for state institutions to secure this right. Before I will
discuss the relationship between IT security, civil rights, and Open Source,
I would like to take a short look at the process and conditions of voting
in the "traditional" way. It is a brief description of the voting procedure
in Germany. To me, it seems to be a remarkable argument that some of the
troubles of the presidential elections in the USA arise from the fact that
no common procedure of voting exists across the whole United States. From
the point of view of a German citizen or even from the position of a citizen
of the EU this is hard to understand, since in Germany and in the EU nobody
sees ones civil rights endangered by using a uniform voting procedure:
who wants to vote has to identify oneself. This is necessary to secure
that everybody is able to vote only once a time during an election.
act of voting is done secretly; apart from the prior identification the
procedure of voting have to be anonymous to secure that there's no opportunity
to do reprisals against voters as reaction to their choices.
at least there're several controls to secure that there won't be any other
opportunities to falsify the votes: one has to vote in a polling booth,
the ballot-paper has to be done into an envelope, after this the envelope
has to be done into a closed ballot-box. After the election is closed,
the votes are counted; this counting is controlled several times.
addition, every citizen has the right to take a look at all documents necessary
for the election; in principle, every step of the election procedure is
open to public control. So we can see that an elaborated system of crosschecks
exists to prevent the opportunity of falsifying an election. Now, in several
countries, for example in Germany (see www.internetwahlen.de),
projects are started to design and build the technology for i-voting via
the Internet. In principle, it shouldn't be a problem to design the technology
for the procedure of voting via the net; however we have to face the fact
that such a technology may be too expensive for a nation wide application.
But it is a conditio sine qua non that any i-voting technology has to maintain
that the right to vote is general, equal, and secret for all voters. This
means that all described controls have to take place in the process of
i-voting, too. Therefore I claim with two major arguments that the only
possibility to secure this demand this is to use Open Source software for
of civil rights: All described procedures are done or maintained by software
if we will use i-voting. To control, whether everything is done right is
only possible if the source code of the used software is open to everyone,
which means open to public control. Without knowing the source code it
is impossible to realize one's right to control actions of state institutions.
It is obvious that without knowing the source code, for instance, it is
impossible to control, whether there're no multiple votes of one person.
Protocols of the voting are not enough, since nobody could control, whether
there're produced right or wrong. As well, it is impossible to secure the
demand that the voting procedure has to be secret and anonymous. We know
from the history of the last months and years that several companies in
the IT business tried to collect personal data of users of their products
without any agreement or knowledge of those users. In May, June, and October
2000 the US Senate performed some hearings about the issues of "Internet
Privacy", "Online Profiling and Privacy", and "Consumer Internet Privacy"
(the testimonies of the witnesses can be seen at the www.senate.gov/~commerce/issues/consumer.htm#Hearings;
besides, in Germany, it is forbidden by law to collect data in such a way
as, for instance, Simson Garfinkel described it in his testimony before
the US Senate and in his book "Database Nation" (2000)). Obviously, the
actions of state institutions and IT business companies are not the same.
But without the option to control even state institutions the possibility
and opportunity to falsify an election is given.
of IT security: The example of the hack of Microsoft's company network
shows us that 100% security is not in reach. Each system of rules and each
system of technological artifacts can be misused or it can work in a wrong
and faulty way. Therefore, rules can be revised and technology can be improved.
One way to enhance technology is to use it and to wait until an error occurs.
But this is too dangerous in mission-critical applications; surely, i-voting
is such an application. So, it would be much better to test software in
simulations and to check it by a large number of users and experts. The
Open Source community just does this. The large number of users seems to
be able to guarantee that errors are found very quickly; security problems
are detected rapidly as well. So from the point of view of IT security
the best way to secure i-voting from errors or falsifying is to use Open
Source software. Since it is free, every group, party, or NGO could use
such software for own voting procedures: this wouldn't be as mission-critical
as, say, an election of the United States president or something like that
and would be a good field for testing such software.
Lessig (1999) stated that "Code is law". In democratic nation states, law
is for the people and code that is law should be for the people, too. Only
Open Source software could fulfill the promise of democracy through technology,
but using even the best designed and evaluated software we shouldn't forget
that technology cannot solve all or even a remarkable number of our social
problems. For instance, outside the ballot-booth there's no certainty who
really votes and there are too many opportunities to falsify the election.
Because of this, in Germany constitutional doubts are expressed against
i-voting and even against postal voting. So we have to think twice, whether
it is reasonable to change the approved procedure of voting. With good
arguments it could be denied that i-voting is a way to increase the polls.
The small number of voters, for instance, in the presidential elections
in the USA is surely not only a problem of voting procedures but among
other things a problem of a diminishing identification of citizens with
democracy. This is a problem in most of the democratic states all over
the world. It's a social and political problem, not a technological one.
I-voting seems to be the wrong tool and the wrong answer to this problem.
Simson (2000): Database Nation. Sebatopol et al.: O'Reilly.
Lawrence (1999): Code and other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic Books.