Ethical and Legal Dilemma in It

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Ethical and Legal Dilemma in IT
Nanette E. Armstrong
Capella University

TS5536 Ethical and Legal Considerations in Information Technology

17 March 2012

Ethical and Legal Dilemma in IT
Based on the definition of cyberethics as given by Tavani, “the study of moral, legal, and social issues involving cybertechnology” (2010, pg. 3), law is usually/always a part of cyberethics to one degree or another. Being right or wrong based on society’s value builds the fundamentals of ethics. Moral principles make up ethics. Values are maintained based on the law, which in turn encourages us to uphold the laws based on those principles. There are at times when something may be unethical but may still uphold the law and the values are not being taken into account. Values impact the way in which we live and conduct ourselves. Values impact corporate culture indirectly. “If something is illegal and determined to be so, it will probably not be done but if it is unethical but legal, values will only impact the corporate culture enough to keep it away from breaking certain laws” (Ricci, 2008, Para. 3).

When one breaks a law, usually set by a governing body, there is a punishment of sort, but when one does something unethically it is not always followed by legal implications. Depending on the unethical act that has been committed is where law would come into play. “Violations of the Law is reinforced by the police and carried out through the court system” (Battle, 2010, Para. 2). When laws are broken there is usually a fine set to pay for the act, however when a person is unethical or violates an ethical code the law is not always involved, therefore, there may or may not be any consequences to the violation. We live in an information technology world. How we act effects our everyday living ethically and morally. Our children, as well as a good portion of the parents in today’s society, attend school or deal with a school in some way, as a parent of a student or a student themselves. The data that is being shared between schools at the different levels, district, state, and federal, is increasing each year. The personal data of the student is being tossed around like blank pieces of paper without consideration of how it can impact the future of the students’ lives. Using email today can be a drawn out process if one does not know how to use it. If you do not take accountability for the email in which you are sending/receiving then you are jeopardizing the entire network in which the email is being sent. What a person sends through email can be very detrimental to the person sending it as to the person receiving the email. “For decades social critics in the United States and throughout the Western world have complained that “property” rights too often take precedence over “human” rights, with the result that people are treated unequally and have unequal opportunities. Inequality exists in any society.” (Alchian, 2008, Para. 1) Accountability and property rights go hand and hand when dealing with email, being it personal, work or school related. One must be held accountable for what they are writing, storing, sending, and receiving, because it becomes personal property once they close it for the final time because protection for this type of personal property is limited. “The broadest grant of authority for collection of information is the Organic Act of 1867, 14 Stat. 434, which established a “Department of Education”” (Richardson, 1973). With the creation of the Department of Education came the collection of student records at a higher level than that of a district level. Then in 1973 the federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), was created to protect to the privacy interest of the students (National Forum on Education Statistics, 2006, Pg. 2). Legal and ethical values in IT must be without reservation. When it comes to dealing with student records and how they are dealt...
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