Ethical problems for e-government: an evaluative framework

H. Mullen, David Horner

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This paper assesses the assertion that there is a lack of well understood and developed rules and models for ethical behaviour in e-business. The paper identifies a brand of radical criticism, which suggests that in our ‘network society’, the very foundations of ethical behaviour are being shaken. It has been argued by computer ethicists that the rapid creation and diffusion of information technology creates ethical and policy vacuums. For example, a number of ethical issues associated with e-business cluster around trust and social justice. In order to develop rules and models for ethical behaviour and to aid policy making in electronic environments it seems important to clarify the nature of such absences. A framework is proposed to evaluate the extent to which types of moral wrongdoing are related specifically to the technologies used. It identifies four categories of ethical issues: those related to electronic environments; those dependent on electronic environments; those determined by electronic environments; and those specific to electronic environments. The paper concludes that the extent, to which ethical issues are new and distinctive, may be exaggerated and the steps needed to address the varieties of moral wrong doing in electronic environments may already be part of our repertoire of policies in regulating the business environment or in promoting ethical cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalElectronic Journal of e-Government
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

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  • e-Business
  • Democracy
  • Ethics
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Trust.


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