Social Issues Related to Availability of Information

An electronic document is amenable to being processed and transmitted by electronic means. One of the major difficulties in moving away from physical to electronic documents stems from security concerns. In the case of physical documents, there is usually only one copy of sensitive information. This copy can be physically protected. In the case of electronic documents, theft of sensitive information is on the rise due to many reasons. The security of the documents and information are challenged by the proliferation of hackers and other forms of attack. Moreover, even where tight security measures are applied, these are, in many cases, restricted to storage and transmission of the documents only. Recipients of the information may unwittingly form breaches in the security system. At the same time, legislation such as the HIPAA makes it mandatory for organizations to take effective measures to protect the privacy of those dealing with them.
Easy availability of information has also raised questions about governmental accountability against the privacy of individuals. A government can access information about individuals more easily in the electronic age, and under certain circumstances, officials of the government are authorized to do so. This creates a dilemma because it is very difficult to judge what constitutes essential intrusions into privacy.
There are several social and ethical issues that arise as a result of the increasing use of Information systems. The ethical issues broadly cover areas such as Information rights and obligations, property rights and obligations, and accountability.