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Information ethics has grown over the years as a discipline in library

and information science, but the field or the phrase has evolved and been embraced by many other disciplines. What will be sketched here is a brief summary of the strands that have now come to make up information ethics. In fact, it can now be seen as a confluence of the ethical concerns of media, journalism, library and information science, computer ethics (including cyberethics), management information systems, business and the internet. In the process of showing this evolution, several bibliographic references will be highlighted, although given the brevity of this article, the set of references provided is in not intended to be comprehensive.

In the United States the field of information ethics has had a 20-year evolving history, pulling together strands from librarianship at first and then from computer ethics. For example, one of the key figures in the field is Robert Hauptman who wrote several works and articles on ethical issues, one of the most well known and seminal being Ethical challenges in librarianship.1 This work addressed some of the problem areas of librarianship: censorship, privacy, access to information, balance in collection development, copyright, fair use, codes of ethics, and problem patrons, to name a few. At this time, when schools of library and information discussed ethical issues, these issues would be included in the content of some other, larger subject matter: for example, a course in reference work might discuss ethical issues in reference, such as competency in supplying adequate or correct information. However, there were no courses whose sole concern was ethical issues in the field of library and information science. When courses solely devoted to ethics emerged in America, they tended to move away from a sole concern of ethical issues in librarianship to a broader concern of ethical issues in information science, information technology and information in society. In fact, even at its beginning the domain of concern in information ethics spilled over to other areas: computer ethics, information systems ethics, ethical issues in management information systems, and information policy.

Persons who first used the phrase, information ethics included Robert Hauptman in the book mentioned above and who started theJournal of information ethics in 1992 and Rafael Capurro who wrote an article in German in 1988 in “Informationethos und Informationsethik”2 [Information Ethos and Information Ethics]. However, some the issues in information ethics were raised as early as 1980. Barbara J. Kostrewski and Charles Oppenheim wrote an article, “Ethics in Information Science” for the Journal of information science3 where they discussed such issues as the confidentiality of information, bias in information provided to clients or consumers, the quality of data supplied by online vendors, the use of work facilities, etc.