Bioethics Education and Information Ethics Education
- Kaneo Inoue.
Omiya Chuo High School, Saitama, JAPAN
The fusion of life science technologies with information science technologies is progressing rapidly, and movements to commercialize both also continue to gather pace around the world particularly in Japan. Against this background various problems involving handling of genetic information, such as protection of the individual’s genetic information, are developing into thorny issues that straddle the territories of bioethics and information ethics. Based on this present state of affairs, I would like to advocate the need for “the link-up between bioethics education and information ethics information” as a topic for bioethics education,
In Japanese senior high schools information education has been introduced as part of the new educational curriculum. Education on information ethics has been identified as an important pillar of this, and I would like to propose that it be put into effect as a two-stage program. The first stage would be education on so-called netiquette, safety and crime prevention in receiving and transmitting information etc. The second stage would not simply be about adjusting to the information society, but to put forward an education that questions the existing framework and values of the information society, searches out the desirable directions to take, and nourishes a desire to participate in implementing reforms.
One important theme of this second stage is the problem of how to protect personal information; that is, an individual’s genetic information is particularly sensitive and requires careful handling. This includes respect for the right to know and the right not to know your own genetic information, and the right not to have it known by others. Genetic information concerns not just the individual but includes his or her family as well. Therefore, their rights should also be respected. Privacy involving this kind of genetic information can be based on an affirmative right to privacy (the right to control personal information). In order to deal with this kind of matter, a link-up between bioethics education and information ethics education is indispensable.
Macer: Inoue sensei has been teaching a range of different topics. He is one of the founders of the bioethics network that we started in 1996. Before he was teaching environmental ethics, now he is teaching information ethics. I would like to ask a question, do you think that the topic of information ethics is more popular among students than environmental ethics?
Inoue: Yes, basically more students like computers and are interested in IT. Information ethics education has just started. So they are not aware of their private information. They are interested in using the technology, but they aren’t aware of what could be done with the technology.
Prem: I am a masscom teacher in Nepal. I do a class on ethics and its relationship with professional ethics. Do you teach masscom ethics also?
Inoue: I believe that in the broad sense, information ethics includes information literacy and media literacy. I understand that it is an important issue
. p. 633 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).