See No Evil? Ethics in an Interventionist ICTD

Andy Dearden


This article considers some of the ethical questions that arise in conducting interventionist ICTD research, and it examines the ethical advice and guidance that are readily available to researchers. Recent years have seen a growing interest from technology researchers in applying their skills to address the needs and aspirations of people in developing regions. In contrast to much previous research in information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) that has sought to study and understand processes surrounding technologies, technology researchers are interested in finding ways to shape technologies to promote desirable social aims. These interventionist research encounters raise distinct ethical challenges. This article explores the discussions that have been presented in the major ICTD literature and major development studies journals and examines codes of conduct and ethical debates in related fields of research. Exploration of this literature shows that the quantity, quality, and detail of advice that directly addresses the issues arising in interventionist ICTD is limited. This article argues that there is an urgent need for the ICTD research community to investigate and debate this subject.

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