Modern society has become increasingly dependent on information, and the ‘right to know’ is essential to any democracy. Yet it is almost inevitable that tension will arise between parties with opposing interests: those who want to gain access to information and those who want to preclude or restrict access to it. Given the importance of information and the rights and interests surrounding this tension a fairly extensive set of legal and ethical rules has evolved to govern the information environment.
Information, ethics and the law is a practical, user-friendly guide for information practitioners and those in the corporate environment, as well as for students of information science and journalism. It examines the constitutional basis for legislation related to information and then moves on to a discussion of the specific acts and rules that prescribe what we may and may not do when accessing, intercepting, protecting, preserving and destroying information. It looks at topics such as freedom of expression and relevant issues such as defamation, junk mall, spam and cyber porn. The intricacies of copyright and intellectual property rights are clarified, as are the more sinister areas of polygraph testing, bugging and espionage. The authors also provide useful and comprehensive discussions of the burgeoning field of electronic transactions and e-commerce, and succinctly set out how this is being regulated.
The authors’ account of the South African legislation related to information makes this body of factual detail accessible while highlighting the practical and ethical deficiencies in these regulations. Professionals will find this book an indispensable tool and the lay person will find that the legal perplexities in everyday communications are skillfully clarified.