Mobile phones, smart mobs and ethical debates


November 1999. For the first time, opponents of globalization organize and make the "Battle of Seattle" a success. January 2001. The President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada resigned after unprecedented protests. July 2003. Everywhere, multiplying bans a mere object of consumption: the mobile phone and its derivative, the camera phone. Look at a device that challenges the laws.

January 20, 2001, the President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, was obliged to resign. Over the previous four days, huge crowds converged on Epifanio de los Santas Avenue, also known under the name of EDSA. Quietly, but with determination, more than a million people took to the streets of the capital, demanding his departure they accuse of corruption in addition to looting for several tens of millions of dollars, resources countries. How so many people could they come together as efficiently and as a discourse coherent?

At the heart of this revolution, the mobile phone can send short text messages (SMS). "Management EDSA." "Wear black to mourn democracy." These messages, and many others, relayed portable phones, rallied the Filipino people towards EDSA. As in many countries of the world, everyone, even the poorest, can now have access to mobile technology. And this is the democratization of the laptop which is largely responsible for the departure of Estrada.

July 2003. The Korean manufacturer Samsung, one of the largest manufacturers of camera phone in the world, forbids its employees to use its own equipment in its factories and its premises. Reason: fear of industrial espionage. In fact, this new generation phone has a small lens and a digital camera. But Samsung is not alone in questioning the use of such devices. Several countries are questioning the use of camera phones in public places.

However, the ban Samsung has something special. According to the director of the Center for Bioethics, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal (IRCM), Dr. David Roy, "by prohibiting its employees employment equipment designed and manufactured in its own factories, Samsung abdicating its responsibility in will use in its customers. This decision goes against the laws and rules of our society willing that any action comes responsibility. " In it, he recalls this aspect of ethical complexity Edgar Morin said when he recalled that "the action uproots the actor [...] while voluntary action escapes almost immediately will and she fled, began to copulate with other actions by myriads and sometimes returns, disfigured and disfiguring the head of its founder. "

But for David Roy, mobile phone and more importantly, its derivative, camera phone, "are more than just gadgets for young people. The use of such devices back on the mat number of ethical issues relating to the protection of privacy, copyright laws and copyright, etc. "..

If such questions can and should be asked is that they send a clear signal that our society institutional, which has always used various means of control to restrict the use of new technology, faces a profound change in paradigm. In a society with laws and regulations "new controlling", should we consider a wide social debate that will lead us to a company called "trust", where the impossibility of restricting the opportunities offered by digital technologies and their use, only a "New Deal" would restore a balance between technology and the laws and rules governing our society?

Moreover, in several interviews after his appointment, Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada has clearly defined the major challenges that would face legislators are those related to new technologies.

On incalculable consequences

Because there will be challenges. And changes that we face with the democratization of digital technologies have said David Roy, "incalculable consequences on our lives every day."

Julius Grey, lawyer for fundamental rights, it is certain that this great social debate to take place. "You can not stop technology. Who remembers the riots in the nineteenth century when the industrial society made its appearance? They have not prevented industrialization. "

In discussing the social and legal impacts of the camera phone, Mr. Grey can not help but display a certain pessimism. "We are coming more and more into the era of Big Brother. However, if in his novel 1984, Orwell clearly the character called Big Brother, however, it is currently impossible to directly appoint a single manager. The technology itself is Big Brother. "

According to Julius Grey, the legislature can not prevent the use of digital technologies. However, like a terminally ill patient who is administering medications to delay maturity, "it is only trying to protect individual freedoms and the right to privacy that we can slow down some controversial uses of common devices as a simple mobile phone. "

Because Pandora's box is now wide open, and there will be only one choice: either a company controlled and controlling, a more tolerant society where there will inevitably redefine new standards between good and evil, between private and public.

For what concerns the most Julius Grey is the advent of a society without flavor, where political correctness reigns and where no one can afford the slightest misdemeanor, the slightest slip of the tongue lest it becomes public .

However, Philippe Le Roux, analyst firm VDL2, these technologies have not only disadvantages. "Since we can not hide almost nothing, and information is becoming more and more" free ", Joe Public and its officers, between man and woman in the world and those that inform, will have to establish a new dynamics of trust. "

More free information? With these devices allow anyone to pass quidam worldwide images of an unlawful act, event, incriminating documents, it seems to be impossible indeed to muzzle. But who will undertake to apply the new filter differentiates an urban legend true? True, these new tools allow anyone to bring a new, event and put on the garb of a journalist, but as the proverb puts it, the clothes do not make the monk. Heated debates for the next Congress FPJQ.

A simple phone? Really?

Smart mobs

Obviously, it is easy to see only black in technology, no one can deny their benefits. And it is the same for wireless communications. Howard Rheingold, the actor cons-culture of the 60s and 70s and author of virtual communities, it is unwise to see only the dark side of technology, just as it would be reckless not to praise its benefits.

In his latest essay, Smart Mobs (smart mobs), Rheingold was the first to have this vision of the possibilities offered by wireless communications and the impact these new handsets that transcend the nature of the object and its original use.

Rheingold said, the impact of wireless communication is even more important that the computer has had in our lives over the years 1980-2000. The space of a phone call, a call, sending a text message or receiving a digital camera, these new devices may change the social fabric and undermining human relations such as we know them.

There has to see the popularity of text messages (SMS) with young people to realize their profound impact. And some traders have understood. For example, a first in Canada, the chain Staples uses text messaging to reach young people and encourage them to participate in a contest. Obviously, the goal is to send them by SMS latest promotions.

Recently, New York, 150 people who did not know converged at the same time to a department store in the city, the radius of the carpet. After 10 minutes of discussion, the crowd disperses and leaves behind a seller flabbergasted. Instruments behind this gathering? Internet and wireless telephony. And such spontaneous groups do not seem to want to stop, quite the contrary.

If the "smart mobs" armed with their digital tools helped bring down a government, however they can also organize a resistance movement approaching civil disobedience. In September 2000, British citizens, outraged by the increase in the price of gasoline, are organized using SMS, email and radio communications taxi drivers to block the delivery of gasoline service points and translate their grievances in the political field.

Rheingold also examines the impacts of wireless technologies and new phones highlighting their potential dangers: the invasion of privacy and individual rights, privacy and the emergence of criminal networks use without doubt these new tools.

So, a simple toy mobile phone? Surely we will return to the impact of camera phones and wireless technologies.

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