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Threat to democratic ideals in cyberspace

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2 Author(s)
H. T. Tavani ; Rivier Coll., Nashua, NH, USA ; F. S. Grodzinsky

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued hundreds of lawsuits against Internet users who downloaded and distributed substantial amounts of proprietary music online. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Comcast, and many universities eventually complied with subpoenas issued on behalf of the RIAA. However, Verizon refused to hand over the names of its subscribers to the RIAA on the grounds that doing so violated specific articles of the U.S. Constitution. We agree with Verizon's decision, which we also believe is critical for preserving democratic ideals and values in cyberspace. Although we do not dispute the RIAA's claim that the copying and distribution of proprietary music has cost the recording industry millions of dollars, we believe that other important ethical issues also need to be examined in the RIAA v. Verizon dispute. Among those issues are the impacts that the RIAA's actions have for individual privacy, anonymous speech, and civil liberties in online activities, which in turn threaten democratic ideals in cyberspace.

Published in:

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 3 )