In January, 2011, approximately 1,500 media professionals, academics, lawyers, government and corporate officials, and students gathered at the Pacific Telecommunications Council Conference in Honolulu. This year, issues pertaining to telecommunication-related environmental ethics were given considerable attention.

Foremost among the approximately 250 presenters, from more than 60 countries and territories, Canadian scientist David Suzuki articulated not only an environmental catastrophe facing the earth, but the role which telecommunication technologies may have in contributing to - or countering - ecological degradation. Suzuki called for "a massive program of education" driven by a "sense of urgency."
Other panels emphasizing a "green" response to environmental ethical issues, included "Going Green-Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable Cloud Computing Centers" hosted by Elizabeth Fife of the University of Southern California; "Emergency Communications and Disaster Management Workshop," hosted by eCLIC and Network Dynamics Associates; and the "Green Data Centers Workshop" hosted by Antonio Piraino of Tier 1 Research.

One panel that provided more of an overview of ethics at PTC 2011 was organized by Tara Giunta of the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker. It raised questions "From the Perspective of the User, the Provider and the Community" about being "connected 24/7."

Part of the research presented during that panel included a 16-year compilation of the ethical issues most frequently discussed at PTC. Thomas Cooper of Emerson College had collated these data and concluded that the topics of privacy, security, the digital divide, and net neutrality are raised at most PTC conferences. But environmental issues also were among the top ten ethical issues discussed at PTC since 1984. (Over the years, issues of privacy, whether individual, corporate, or national were featured (11%), and issues of national security (7%) and freedom of information (7%) appeared more often than issues associated with the "digital divide" (5%), intellectual property (4%), consumer rights (4%), access to services (4%) and environmental protection and erosion (4%).)

Other ethical issues considered at PTC 2011 including providing developmental education and resources for the "have-nots," generating fair and humane policy that can keep up with technical transformation, and cultural erosion in the presence of corporate expansion.

More information about PTC 2011 is available at http://www.ptc.org/ptc.