Services to Organizations (Abridged)

Copyright © 1998-2000; Second Edition

The Institute's goal is to apply information technology to the facilitation of social communication. Understanding of informational freedoms, such as the right to speak and the right to privacy, are fundamental to such application.

Institute for Social Informatics performs research on computer security directed toward enhancement of personal and organizational integrity. One focus is unobservability mechanisms, which can protect persons by making it impossible to identify who has sent a message. While the right to distribute information must be protected, information overload can easily become a major problem. Personal computer systems can assist in selecting information of highest quality and interest.

Potential advantages of the Internet

The Internet has created new channels for organizations to communicate with the public. These new technologies can also facilitate intra-organizational communication. The democratically structured organization can benefit greatly from a reduced need for centralized administrative services, due to office automation and teleworking.

However, the new information technologies carry with them risks of loss of organizational assets, of disruption of activities, and of inappropriate release of information.

Security in deployment of Internet technologies

Security can be compromised by faulty software. Protection from computer viruses is also crucial in maintaining security. Protection is typically achieved through cryptographic signature technology, which allows users to verify that software comes from a reliable source.

The theft of membership lists can compromise the privacy of an organization's members. Planning documents or other internal communications in the wrong hands can neutralize an organization. Encryption can prevent unauthorized access. However, precautionary measures must be implemented with care to avoid impeding acceptable use of the organization's information assets.

Strengthening the organization and protecting members

Reducing centralized control of information can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of disruption. Decentralization can also promote member loyalty, which is typically the most important aspect of information security. Appropriate use of encryption can ensure that decentralization improves information security.

Reporters, human rights activists, and aid workers in troubled areas may face physical risks. Surveillance and communication technologies can be integrated in order to reduce such risks. Application of such technologies in a manner that does not compromise privacy of involved persons is another role for advanced information security mechanisms.

Institute for Social Informatics
Tornskadestien 2, st. th.
DK-2400 Copenhagen NV

TEL.: +45 3095 4070

FAX: +1 815 572-8719

EMail: info (AT) socialinformatics (DOT) org