East–West Perspectives on Privacy, Ethical Pluralism and Global Information Ethics


Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are both primary drivers and facilitating technologies of globalization—and thereby, of exponentially expanding possibilities of cross-cultural encounters. Currently, over one billion persons throughout the planet have access to the Web: of these, Asian users constitute 35.8% of the Web population, while Europeans make up 28.3 % of world users—and North Americans only 20.9% (Internet World Stats, 2007). Our histories teach us all too well that such encounters—especially concerning potentially global ethical norms—always run the risk of devolving into more destructive rather than emancipatory events. Specifically, these encounters risk pulling us into one of two contradictory positions. First of all, naïve ethnocentrisms too easily issue in imperialisms that remake “the Other” in one’s own image—precisely by eliminating the irreducible differences in norms and practices that define distinctive cultures. Second, these imperialisms thereby inspire a relativistic turn to the sheerly local—precisely for the sake of preserving local identities and cultures. Hence the general problem: how we might foster a cross-cultural communication for a global ICE that steers between the two Manichean polarities of ethnocentric imperialism and fragmenting relativism?

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Ess2011EastWestPO, title={East–West Perspectives on Privacy, Ethical Pluralism and Global Information Ethics}, author={Charles Ess}, year={2011} }