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Internet ethics generally focus on the appropriate use of online resources. A broad overview of ethics on the Internet was addressed by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) in 1989, using recommendations from the Division Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation Division of Network, Communications Research, and Infrastructure. The aim of the resulting document was to give general guidelines of web ethics instead of providing hard-and-fast rules about online usage. Known as Request for Comments (RFC) 1087, the document is still held up as the standard for ethics issues online.
The main area explored in the RFC 1087 Internet ethics document is how web resources should be used. The authors were primarily concerned with unauthorized access to, and misappropriation of, Internet resources. The document also contains statements against compromising the privacy of other Internet users. Overall, the aims are to keep the Internet as a way to promote the exchange of information without compromising the integrity of the medium or the privacy of its users.
Global networks make it nearly impossible to create consistent repercussions for violating established Internet ethics, so users are encouraged to take on the responsibility of monitoring the websites they visit for compliance. In some countries, users are able to report violations to an appropriate government agency, which then has the task of charging and prosecuting the perpetrators. As an example, in the United States, the federal government has set up several agencies, such as the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC), to handle Internet ethics violations. In certain cases, such as extensive online piracy, government organizations with extradition agreements will work together to shut down and prosecute perpetrators.
There are some critics of governmental interference in Internet ethics issues. These people believe monitoring ethics on the Internet should be largely left to individual responsibility and community policing. The fear that many of these critics have is that creating mechanisms to enforce online ethics would be prohibitively expensive and would restrict the flow of information between users.