Digital ethics is a subarea of ethics, which studies morality, theory of right and wrong, values and the question of good life in the context of digitality. The rapidly growing digitalization in society has raised myriad number of new practices and a whole new subdivision of life, that is emerging new kinds of a moral code of conducts. Digital ethics is brought to answer the ethical questions raised by the previously mentioned trend.
Digital ethics is understood as a holistic study, that is interested in digitality from a morally sustainable point of view. As the name suggests digital ethics consists of understanding the nature of technology and digitality, but it also requires an understanding of ethical approaches and principles (Beever and others, 2020, p. 2). It’s important to distinguish Digital ethics from more specific areas of ethics such as AI ethics. In fact, Digital ethics is an interdisciplinary study which comprises all digitalization. It shouldn’t be understood as a study that is interested solving only technical or digital media-oriented ethical problems (Beever and others, 2020, p. 183). Thus, digital ethics ought to be used as a broad term when new technologies or services bring up problems concerning right or wrong.
Like any ethical standpoints, digital ethics can too be divided in to two main emphases. On the one hand, customer/user/produsager can follow the norms set by the society or smaller professional community. And on the other hand, the user can obey personal ethical judgement and, in that way, challenge the prevailing norms. (Gordon, 2011, p. 5).
An example scenario can be found from datafication. The term datafication describes a trend where an increasing amount of data is gathered from the users of certain software without the person even noticing. The aim of this data gathering is to offer better service for the user, or in other words, decide for his/her behalf. (Hokkanen and others, p. 71) In this case, digital ethics investigates justification for the data gathering, the using of data, and the handed over power of decision. To be able to understand this questioning set by digital ethics, one must be familiar with datafication as a process and must have competence to critically reflect it to ethical principles. In digital ethics, two literacies shake hands – ethical and digital.
List of references:
Beever, J., McDaniel, R., & Stanlick, N. A. (2020). Understanding digital ethics : cases and contexts . Routledge.
Gordon, A. D., Kittross, J. M., Merrill, J. C., Babcock, W., & Dorsher, M. (2011). Controversies in Media Ethics. In Controversies in Media Ethics (3rd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203829912
Hokkanen, J., Soronen, A., Talvitie-Lamberg, K., & Valtonen, S. (2021). Haavoittuvuuden kudelmat: Digitaalinen subjekti ja haavoittuvuus datavetoista yhteiskuntaa käsittelevässä tutkimuskirjallisuudessa.