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Assessment 1 Context

Information Technology Ethics

Are IT ethics different from regular ethics? One challenge in IT ethics is identifying ethical issues. Many people who perform questionable actions with computers do not see the ethical implications of their behavior. Is there an ethical difference between browsing through someone’s computer files and browsing through his or her desk drawer? What is the difference between taking time from your workday to write a letter to a college friend and sending an e-mail to that same individual?

Another challenge is the wide array of ethical dilemmas the computer presents. The computer user and developer routinely face ethical choices ranging from simply not nice to flagrantly illegal.  

IT ethics should have strong links to policy and strategy. Once an ethical problem is identified, a policy or strategy should be developed to prevent the problem from recurring or to deal with it if it happens to recur.

Ethics in the Workplace

Most experts would say there is no special category of IT ethics. Rather, there are ethical situations that involve computers. However, computers’ capabilities to, for example, perform operations that were at one time difficult or impossible for a person to do from his or her desk, lend themselves to workplace problems. The widespread use of computers has made organizations and individuals increasingly vulnerable to their unethical use. Harbert’s (2007) article from Computerworld includes alarming statistics from studies regarding the "dark secrets, ugly truths" of ethics in IT.

The Study of Cyberethics

Problems in computer ethics arise because there is a disconnect between IT policies and how computer technology should be used. The new capabilities provided by computers give computer users choices for action, but policies for conduct either do not exist or are inadequate. Computer ethics involves formulating policies that guide user actions.

Using Information Technology

The blessings and benefits we can receive from IT are clear. We find ourselves becoming more and more dependent on technology. What would life be without daily e-mail and access to the World Wide Web? Our brains are being forced to accelerate to keep up with the speed of technology. It is increasingly harder to keep track of, evaluate, and prioritize information. Each day that we hear about the abuse of privacy and incidents of identity theft, we find ourselves wondering who is in control of ethical policies. Consider the frameworks that will be useful to your thinking and eventual decision making about ethical issues in IT.

References

Harbert, T. (2007, October). Ethics in IT: Dark secrets, ugly truths. And little guidance. Computerworld, 41(44), 34–36.

Tavani, H. T. (2013). Ethics and technology: Controversies, questions, and strategies for ethical computing (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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