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Halakhic Ethical Concerns of the Online Environment

The shealot ve-teshuvot, Responsa genre draws Jewish law from the past by analogizing halakhicprinciples that apply to questions regarding the new technologies. We will identify some of these ethical concerns and classify them. Some of the many halakhic issues treated include: (1) invading privacy rights in 4 categories: (a) . Hezeq re’iyya, (b) privacy of one’s residence against tresspassers i.e., אִם-בַּמַּחְתֶּרֶת יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב (c) prohibition of disclosure of nistarot and tailbearing, הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל, מְגַלֶּה-סּוֹד; וְנֶאֱמַן-רוּחַ, מְכַסֶּה דָבָר[ thereby transgressing against the Chofetz Chaim’s laws of shemirat loshon (lashon harah, and motzhi shem rah) (d) privacy of one’s emails a warning against which can include the phrase: בחדר"גמה בחרם ד,רבננו גרשום מאור הגולה meaning herem d’rabbeinu Gershom, or pagi’in פג,ין an acronymn forפורץ גדד י-שכנו נחש (2) The sanctity of Hashem’s name and the prohibitions of erasing the name (mechikat Hashem) based on Devarim 12:2-3, and does this apply on a computer screen i.e. lo ta’asum ken is an issur chaftza, a prohibition pivoting around a physical object (a) sefer torah with a specific halakhic status, written by a sofer who has teveled in a mikvah and written the name with yirat shamayim (haikkar ve-takhlit ha-adam) and kavanah (3) internet commerce on Shabbat, (4) social network listserves, blogs, wikis, etc. by which Orthodox Jews can construct "cyber" communities (5) employing filters for screening out “pritzus,narishkeit, and stius,(6) spyware and cookies that marketers use to target consumer groups, who may not wish these marketing techniques be used to waste their time, bitul zeman; (7) davoningfrom a kindle or ipod obviously not on Shabbos, (8) cyber minyanim and mizumem?, (9) permissibility of censoring hate literature on the web, (10) computer crimes of abuse and fraud by which one piggy-backs on another’s Wi-fi unsecured signals without authorization or permission to access to a computer network, contracted by others, possibly harming the network and damaging others’ data, and also diminishing bandwidth which can effect speed of connection for the paying subscriber, ergo constituting geneiva , (11) illegal film and music downloading causing financial loss to royalties of copyrighted works, despite minhago shel olam (normative practice) and hamotzi l’or yodeah mizeh (the author knew full well upon making the work public how it might be abused, i.e. umdenah (common assumption) (12) ethical concern with author copyright within 5 categories: A. Hasagat gevul -- unfair competition:B. Haskamot -- approbations; C. Dina d’malkhuta dina (based on Shmuel )--secular law; D. Shiur b’kinyan-- witholding the right to copy.and copyright- E. sighting a law in the name of one’s Rebbe who learned it from his Rebbe, a reason Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote the pirush Kesef Mishnahon Rambam’s Sefer Mishnah Torah, MT. see: Megilah 15a explicating Esther 2:22וַיִּוָּדַע הַדָּבָר לְמָרְדֳּכַי , וַיַּגֵּד לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה ; וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַמֶּלֶךְ , בְּשֵׁם מָרְדֳּכָי and P.A 6:6משנה מסכת אבות פרק This presentation attempts to outline and gather some of the basic frameworks of the halakhic approaches and principles to online ethical issues, for practical guidance please consult a qualified halakhic authority credentialed to field sheolos.

Presented by David B. Levy at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

40 min 44 sec]

Posted in: RAS


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