Self-regulation: Content, Legitimacy and Efficiency - Governance and Ethics

Jacques Berleur, Tanguy EWBANK de WESPIN

Research output: Contribution in Book/Catalog/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is not always easy to speak about ethics in the context of the global information society, at least in some influent circles. People prefer the term 'governance', especially if it is associated with self-regulation. This paper summarises the findings of the analysis of some 40 self-regulation documents, using a standardised grid of analysis, carried out by IFIP-SIG9.2.2. These documents include general texts about computing and information systems, both for the public and for professionals. There are also more specialised texts dealing with the Internet, and with specific domains. Among the latter, there are still generic documents, but also approaches by specific sectors. A list of the documents analysed is given in the Annex. When looking at the different actors, it is clear that the presence of the authorities and of the users is rather weak: it often appears that it is the authors of the text who are being protected, rather than anyone else. As far as the content is concerned, most often it does not go further than providing a reminder of what is illegal, and the enumeration of relatively superficial principles of protection. Commitments are 'reasonable' and self-controlled. It seems that a strong lobby of firms engaged in e-commerce is often behind the activity. Is it satisfactory to advocate self-regulation ' the so-called 'more contractual approach between the different parties' ' and regret without any further analysis the decline of the State, if the issue at stake is to regulate our society, the information society, what belongs to the common good' This paper raises questions about the legitimacy of the actors of self-regulation, the limits of the principle of subsidiarity, the conformity of content to higher principles, the capacity of enforcement, the transparency of decision, its efficiency. It seeks to identify the role of self-regulation in the eth
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Choice and Computers, Issues of Choice and Quality of Life in the Information Society
EditorsKlaus BRUNNSTEIN, Jacques BERLEUR
Place of PublicationNorwell, Mass., USA
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Ethics
  • Governance
  • Codes
  • Deontology
  • Regulation
  • Self-regulation
  • Role of the State
  • Internet


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