Concepts of Ethical Issues

In the rapidly changing technological environment in which we live; ethical issues are increasingly been raised, demanding attention and efforts towards resolution. Of particular interest for us and the information society are those related to information communication technologies (ICTs). The explosive growth of ICT and the use of its enabling technologies have had major impacts on society and thus raise serious ethical questions for individuals and organisations. These issues have been raised to a new and often perplexing level which has greatly affected the society in various ways. The pressing issues raised by ICT include the invasion of individual and corporate privacy, intellectual property rights, individual and societal rights, values preservation and accountability for the consequences arising from the use of ICT, etc.These issues have thrown up important challenges in the area of employment; working conditions and individuality. However, not much progress has been made in addressing these issues and challenges associated with ICT.

According to Fielden, (2004), Information Technology (IT) has a central role in commerce, industry, government, medicine, education, entertainment and society at large. Its economic and social benefits hardly need explanation. But like any other technologies, IT also has problematic implications, and some negative impacts on our society. It poses and creates some problems related to ethics, and contains in general three main types of ethical issues: personal privacy, access right, and harmful actions. In terms of personal privacy, IT enables data exchange of information on a large scale from anybody, on any locations or parts of the world, at any times. In this situation, there is increased potential for disclosing information and violating the privacy of any individuals and groups of people due to its widespread disseminations worldwide. It is our challenge and responsibility to maintain the privacy and integrity of data regarding individuals. This also includes taking precautions to ensure the accuracy of data, as well as protecting it from unauthorized access or accidental disclosure to inappropriate individuals.

The second aspect of ethical issues in computing systems is access right. Due to the current popularity of international commerce on the Internet, the topic of computer security and access right has moved quickly from being a low priority for corporations and government agencies to a high priority. This interest has been heightened by computer break-ins at places like Los Alamos National Laboratories and NASA in the US. Many attempts of such illegal access to United States government and military computers by computer hackers have been widely reported. Without implementation of proper computer security policies and strategies, network connections on the Internet can’t be made secure from illegal accesses (Grimesm Fleischman & Jaeger 2009).

Grimes, Fleischman & Jaeger (2009) notes that in computer ethics, harmful action means injury or negative consequences, such as undesirable loss of information, loss of property, property damage, or unwanted environmental impacts. This principle prohibits use of computing technology in ways that result in harm to any of users, the general public, employees, and employers. Harmful actions include intentional destruction or modification of files and programs leading to serious loss of resources or unnecessary expenditure of human resources such as the time and effort required to purge systems from "computer viruses. We shall also examine other specific ethical issues arising from IT then.


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