"Research" is broadly defined here, and covers research-based teaching and dissemination. Research also covers student work in the form of theses at the Master's and PhD level.
"Internet" basically refers to a global data network for communication and sharing of information. In a broader sense, "Internet" may refer to technological systems and units (things), different forms of use and application (tools), or a place of activity and interaction (social space). The various approaches raise different theoretical and methodological questions, which in turn open up new areas of research ethics assessments and considerations.
"Internet research" consequently covers: 1) research on the Internet as a phenomenon in its own right, its structure and technology (production systems, technical design, programs, codes, etc.); 2) use of the Internet as a research tool (collection of data and information using informants, surveys, archives, logs, algorithms, etc.); and 3) research on production, communication and interaction using the Internet (e-mail, social media, blogs, Internet forums, discussion pages, comments fields, or the use of computer games, search engines, web pages, etc.). Internet research is therefore not defined by the use of new methods.
In the following we will review key research ethics issues related to Internet research. They are particularly related to the researcher's obligation to base his/her work on fundamental respect for human dignity. This is elaborated on in the NESH's Guidelines, where researchers have an obligation to respect integrity, freedom and participation (point 6), to avoid injury and severe burdens (point 7), to have regard for third parties (point 11), to secure children's right to protection (point 12), to respect individuals' privacy (point 13), to respect posthumous reputations (point 17), and to respect the values and motives of others (point 18).