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The Precautionary Principle in the Information Society

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The Precautionary Principle aims to anticipate and minimize potentially serious or irreversible risks under conditions of uncertainty. Thus it preserves the potential for future developments. It has been incorporated into many international treaties and pieces of national legislation for environmental protection and sustainable development. However the Precautionary Principle has not yet been applied systematically to novel Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and their potential environmental, social, and health effects. In this article we argue that precaution is necessary in this field and show how the general principle of precaution can be put in concrete terms in the context of the information society. We advocate precautionary measures directed towards pervasive applications of ICT (Pervasive Computing) because of their inestimable potential impacts on society.

Keywords: information society; precautionary principle; sustainable development; technological risk; uncertainty

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research EMPA, St. Gallen, Switzerland 2: Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2004


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