Ethics and It

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1. INTRODUCTION

Ethics has been perceived as one of the most important factors in establishing good corporate governance. Information Technology (IT) plays an increasing role in helping modern organizations to achieve their goals, and it has become critical in creating and implementing effective IT governance mechanisms.

The increased use of information technology has raised many ethical issues for today’s IT professional.– Licensing of IT professionals – Internet communication
– Intellectual property
– Employee/employer issues

The collapses of Enron, WorldCom, HIH, One.Tel and many others early this century have brought about renewed attention to corporate governance mechanisms and birth to a spate of legislation and regulations worldwide. Some countries, like the United States and its Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), have chosen coercive mechanisms, focusing on enforcement and punishment for egregious behavior, while others, like Australia and the United Kingdom, have chosen more cooperative approaches that place the burden for disclosure and explanation on the companies themselves rather than auditors and regulatory enforcement officers. Whichever approach is used, it remains that governments worldwide have ushered in a new era for business, one in which the actions of directors and executives will be closely scrutinized in order to prevent gross breaches of investor confidence, and their associated destruction of wealth, as has happened in the past. Globalization and digital convergence in the emerging knowledge society has raised complex ethical, legal and societal issues. We are faced with complex and difficult questions regarding the freedom of expression, access to information, the right to privacy, intellectual property rights, and cultural diversity. ICT is an instrumental need of all humans for the gathering of information and knowledge, and as such, should be guaranteed as a basic right to all human beings. All over the world, rights that are already legally recognised are daily being violated, whether in the name of economic advancement, political stability, religious causes, the campaign against terrorism, or for personal greed and interests. Violations of these rights have created new problems in human social systems, such as the digital divide, cybercrime, digital security and privacy concerns, all of which have affected people’s lives either directly or indirectly. It is important that the countries of the Asia-Pacific region come up with an assessment of the situation, followed by guidelines for action to combat the incidence of malicious attacks on the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic data and systems, computer-related crimes, such as forgery and fraud, content related offenses, such as those related to child pornography, and violations of intellectual property rights (IPRs). Further, threats to critical infrastructure and national interests arising from the use of the internet for criminal and terrorist activities are of growing concern after the September 11 incident. The harm incurred to businesses, governments and individuals in those countries in which the internet is used widely, is gaining in scope and importance, while in other countries, cybercrime threatens the application of information and communication technology for government services, health care, trade, and banking. As users start losing confidence in transactions and business, the opportunity costs may become substantial. The challenges to the region, reportedly, lie mainly in the general lack of awareness of information security issues, the rapidly evolving complexity of systems, the increasing capacity and reach of information and communication technology, the anonymity afforded by these technologies, and the transnational nature of communication networks. Few countries in the region have appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks to meet these challenges. Even where awareness is growing and where...
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