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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Saur December 4, 2007

A Moral Reflection on the Information Flow From South to North: an African Perspective

  • Johannes J. Britz and Peter J. Lor
From the journal Libri

In most discussions of the digital divide, the emphasis is on assisting developing nations by facilitating the flow of information resources from the developed countries to the developing – a North-South flow. The South-North flow of information receives less attention. A number of moral questions arise from the current state of South-North information flow, six forms of which are analysed in this paper with particular reference to Africa. The discussion is approached from an ethical perspective based on a specific moral framework based on three moral claims: (1) there exist universal information-related human rights – the right of freedom of access to information, the right of freedom of expression, and the right of individuals and groups to control the information they have generated; (2) the notion of a common good, predicated on a moral community which shares certain values, imposes an obligation to share information; and (3) justice is the main normative tool that can be used to regulate the flow of information.


Johannes J. Britz (DD), Professor in Information Science, School of Information Technology, University of Pretoria. Tel +27 (0)12 420-2962. Fax +27 (0)12 3625181. E-mail:

Received: 2003-02-11
Received: 2002-05-13
Accepted: 2003-04-03
Published Online: 2007-12-04
Published in Print: 2003-September

© 2003 by K. G. Saur Verlag GmbH, Federal Republic of Germany

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