Information technology has revolutionized most aspects of our life. Information has altered significantly areas such as entertainment, commerce, medicine and employment. Information is affecting both positively and negatively our daily lives. Information and communication technology (ICT) has transformed our relationships, family and community lives, careers and education, freedom and democracy. Issues around ethics deal with concepts such as what is good or evil, the issues that are right or wrong and virtue or vices. Ethics or moral philosophy investigates concepts of good and evil behavior. Philosophers group ethical issues in three major areas. Metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Metaethics analyzes the genesis of ethics. It questions where ethical values come from. Normative ethics deals with the tasks that regulate right and wrong conduct. It articulates good behavior and investigates consequences of our conduct towards others. Finally, applied ethics analyses controversial issues like animal rights, homosexuality and abortion.
Ethics in computer science is in the broadest sense revolves around computing professionals and the decisions they make especially on professional and social front. Computer and information ethics investigates ethical and social effects of ICT. Ethical decisions that one makes revolves around the individuals personal code, code of conduct in the context of a work place and how exposed one is especially on the code of ethics. Computer ethics thus forms a branch of practical philosophy that explains the manner in which professionals in computing need to make decisions concerning their profession and social conduct (ACM Council Par. 5). Ethical issues identification and there definitions, has been for the longest time causing much trouble. There are various problems solving method used in issues related to computer ethics. The most common one follow a procedure, which begins with stating the ethical problems, followed by facts checking, and then a list of options generated by making considerations concerning important factors that are in one way, or the other connected to the problem.
The Association for computing machinery (ACM) and the members of IEEE has recognized the significance of technology in life quality impact worldwide. As an effect, they have taken into consideration to obligate their members and the committee as a whole to practice ethics and professional conducts as stipulated. The ACM code of ethics and professional conduct proposes a set of guidelines as a basis for making ethical decisions. The code serves as a foundation for judging the advantages of formal complains that concern the violation of professional standards of being ethical.
ICT Contributes to society and human well-being. Communication not only improves the well-being of the society but human race as a whole. Each person has fundamental human right’s protection that needs to consideration. In addition, there should be respect for all the diverse culture that we have. Computing professional should work towards reduction of negative consequences resulting from computing systems. These range from threats to health to negative social issues. During system design or implementation, computing professionals should ensure that their products are socially responsible and meets the required social standards. They should not result to any kind of harm to the health and welfare of individuals. Computer professionals should thus make decisions with the public welfare in mind and always disclose factors that might threaten the environment as a whole.
They should also prevent harm at all costs. These should include prevention of negative impact, like loss of information, loss or damage of property as well as any undesired environmental. The computing professionals should take caution from taking part in any practice that will cause harm. These harmful practices are like; intentional destruction, file modifications, modification of programs that might lead to serious loss of useful resources thus causing unnecessary expenditure of other resources like time.
On the other hand, there are practices that might accidentally lead to harm. In such a condition, the people responsible should undo or mitigate the side effect as much as they can. For the harm prevention, the computing professionals need to minimize malfunctions by following accepted standards for designing sand testing systems. Under the working environment, the professionals should report any danger on the system that might end up resulting to fatal or minor accident. If the organization’s superiors do not take any action concerning the matter, it is much significant to blow the whistle for the problem correction. ` Reporting of violations can be much harmful in it self. Before making anyone can report on any matter, all necessary aspects of the matter need assessing thoroughly. The assessment of risks and the responsibility has to be credible. Trustworthiness and Honesty; the essential component of trust is honesty (IEEE Board of Directors, Par. 3). When an organization lacks honesty, there is no effective functioning. Computing professionals should be honest, as they are not supposed to make any deliberate false or claims that are deceptive concerning system design or system as a whole. Nevertheless, they should provide full disclosure of all limitations and problems facing a particular of pertinent system. It is the responsibility of computer professionals to be honest about their qualifications.
They should offer any condition that may lead to conflict of interest. In other terms, the professional have to be honesty and much realistic when stating claims based on the data they do have. Honesty helps them avoid perceived conflicts of interests whenever possible, as well as making them disclosed to those parties affected, they should also reject all forms of bribery. This will help in seeking, accepting and offering criticisms of technical work, making acknowledgements as well as crediting others’ contributions clearly. Stating correct qualifications will assist in the maintaining technical competence.
Being a volunteer member in some of the organizations like ACM and IEEE can also cause more confusion especially if such an individual makes certain statements or acts in a certain way. Such statements or acts can have more weight than necessary. Members of ACM and IEEE therefore should exercise caution. This will ensure that they are not interpretated wrongly. Fair Actions and Decisions, Equity, tolerance, respect among other virtues and other principles that leads to equal justice.
These values should govern the computing professionals. Sexual, racial, religion, age discrimination among other distinctions, is an open violation of ACM and IEEE policies. Inequalities among different groups of individuals might be because of misuse of technology and information. In a fair community, all individuals needs to be treated equally because all have equal chances of participating or benefiting from the computer resource usage, regardless of their dividing factors like age or sex. On the other hand, this principle does not approve the use of unauthorized computer resources nor do they allow enough foundation for the violation any other ethical principle of these codes.
Property Rights as a Patents Need to be honored. Violation of patents, trade secrets, copyrights as well as agreed terms of license, should be prohibited. Even using the unprotected software is a violation that is against professional behaviors. Software copies should be created if and only if proper authorization procedure had been followed. Respect other person’s privacy and confidentiality; communication and computing technology helps during collection and exchange of people’s information on a scale that is unprecedented in the civilization history. As effect, there are high chances that might lead to the violation of individual and groups’ privacy. The professional has been obligated to maintain privacy and data integrity that describes an individual.
This involves taking precautions that ensures that data accuracy as well as its protection from unauthorized access, accidental disclosure to unintended people is minimized. In addition, procedures have to be installed to give room to individuals receive their records and make corrections appropriately. The principle imply that, only part of individuals’ information be collected in a system. Therefore, the retention and the periods of disposal for the information need to be defined and indicated clearly. Information that belongs to someone should not be used be used for other unstated purposes, without the owner’s consent.
This should apply especially on electronic mail. Monitoring electronic data without permission from the owner of the massage is unacceptable. Information observed during system maintenance should be handled with a lot of confidentiality. If for any reason, the content or nature of that information has to be disclosed, the proper authorities should be provided with such information. The principle of honest is broad. It includes privacy and confidentiality of all information. This applies whenever an individual has made an explicit promise of honoring confidentiality.
Finally, computer professionals should understand the needs of users of computer systems. Users should clearly spell out their needs to assist during assessment and when designing the systems. The systems also need validation in order to be sure that they meet the required standards. The needs of current and potential system user whose lives are affected directly must be incorporated when developing the systems. In order for these systems to be validated, they should comply with this requirement. Implementation of policies that protect the personal dignity and privacy of users should be enhanced. Information regarding principles and limitations of computer systems should be availed for users. Courses that enable them to familiarize with consequences and limitations of the systems should be developed. Education is essential in making the users participate and to making them aware of the dangers of the computing systems.