Computer Ethics

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Computer Ethics
A Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics (see Appendix A) was first presented by Dr. Ramon C. Barquin's in his paper for the Computer Ethics Institute of the Brookings Institution entitled, "In Pursuit of a 'Ten Commandments' for Computer Ethics" in May of 1992. Computer ethics is about principles related to behavior and decisions made by computer professionals and users, including software engineers, operators, managers, policy makers, as well as educators and students. This means all these people involved should be supported with some "policies for ethical conduct" i.e. policies that guide their actions and increase adequacy of the decisions they make. (Szejko par. 1) With the rapid infusion of computers, software and related technologies into homes, schools and businesses, we initially focused our energies on learning about the technologies and how to use them. We now need to focus our attention on the ethical issues surrounding technology to insure that we and our children understand and practice values important to all of us; respect for others, their property, ownership, and the right to privacy. (Alden par. 4) There are various interpretations of the term "computer ethics." Computer ethics might be understood in one sense as the efforts of professional philosophers to apply traditional ethical theories and concepts to issues regarding the use of computer technology. However, it is possible to construe computer ethics in another sense to include standards of professional practice, codes of conduct, and aspects of computer law, public policy, and corporate ethics. Information technology has affected our home life, our business life, and our relationships with others. It has also affected us in regards to education, freedom, and democracy. And the way it has affected us has not always been for the better. That is one of the reasons why it is so important to develop a code of ethics for computers and the IT field. Use of the Code of Ethics in my Professional Life

As an IT professional, I am amazed at the number of requests I get on a daily basis from my fellow employees, friends and family members to "assist" them with acquiring illegal software. Because of what I do at my job, it is important that I know and understand things such as "warez" sites, bit torrents, DVD and CD ripping, and other forms of computer piracy. While I could very easily do this, I remind them that I am a professional in my field and that doing so would violate not only a business code of ethics, but a personal one as well. I inform them that the taking of software though illegal means is stealing, and it would be the same as if I picked their pocket or broke into their house. At work, I am asked for ways to "override" the company network proxy so that the users can access sites that the company has determined to be "not work related." I politely inform them that not only are they in violation of company security standards, but if they continue to push the issue, I will have to report them to company security. I have had to report employees on two occasions and while it has lead to some animosity among a small number of my peers, it has also earned me the respect of most of my co-workers. Are Codes of Ethics really necessary?

Codes of ethics are controversial documents. Some writers have suggested that codes of professional ethics are pointless and unnecessary. Many others believe that codes are useful and important, but disagree about why. I believe that in order for a profession to grow, and to gain trust among its users and peers, there must be a code of ethics. Heinz Luegenbiehl, Professor of Philosophy and Technology Studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology acknowledges that codes of ethics do have some sociological value. Luegenbiehl writes, The adoption of a code is significant for the professionalization of an occupational group, because it is one of the external hallmarks testifying to the claim that the group...
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