Ethical Implications of IT-enabled Information Flows Conceived as Intermediaries or Mediators

Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic, School of Information Systems, Technology and Management, University of NSW Business School, Sydney, Australia
Olivera Marjanovic, Business Information Systems Discipline, University of Sydney Business School, Sydney, Australia


This paper contributes to a better understanding of ethical concerns regarding the deployment of complex public sector IT systems and the information flows they instigate. The paper aims to reveal how different views on IT and IT-enabled information flows allow us to see differently their social implications and to construe different ethical questions. This is achieved by i) defining two opposing views on IT-enabled information flows as ‘intermediaries’ and ‘mediators’; ii) by analysing the controversial case of My School – a web portal that provides performance data of 9,500 Australian schools – that introduces new information flows in the education sector; and iii) by revealing and explaining how some unintended negative social implications emerge and how the articulation of ethical concerns depends on the view on My School-enabled information flows. The paper concludes with theoretical and practical implications, with particular emphasis on responsibilities of all involved, setting up foundations for an important area of future IS research.