ICTs, citizens and the state: moral philosophy and development practices


Great to see my latest paper just published in The Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries – thanks to Mark Levy and Vignesh Ilvarasan for all their editorial work on this.

The paper examines the moral implications of the use of ICTs in e-government initiatives, focusing especially on national databases, identity cards, and surveillance technologies. It suggests that in resolving debates over these, we need to reach ethical resolutions concerning notions of trust, privacy, and the law. It also draws attention to the ethical problems that emerge in linking the notion of of Universal Human Rights with the introduction of ICTs in developing countries.

As I argue in the paper, “The really difficult ethical questions that arise from this are about how we judge whether it is better for poor and marginalised communities for such egovernment initiatives to have been introduced, or whether they might actually be more advantaged if their governments did not spend vast sums of money on their implementation. Just because it is possible to implement national citizen databases, to use biodata for ID cards, and to introduce sophisticated digital surveillance mechanisms does not mean that it is right to do so”.

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Filed under Development, Ethics, ICT4D

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