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Chapter 4

Ethical and Social Issues in Information Systems
LEARNING OBJECTIVESS
After reading this chapter, you will be able to answer the following questions: 1. What ethical, social, and political issues are raised by information systems? What specific principles for conduct can be used to guide ethical decisions? Why do contemporary information systems technology and the Internet pose challenges to the protection of individual privacy and intellectual property? How have information systems affected everyday life?

CHAPTER OUTLINE
4.1 UNDERSTANDING ETHICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES RELATED TO SYSTEMS A Model for Thinking About Ethical, Social, and Political Issues Five Moral Dimensions of the Information Age Key Technology Trends that Raise Ethical Issues ETHICS IN AN INFORMATION SOCIETY Basic Concepts: Responsibility, Accountability, and Liability Ethical Analysis Candidate Ethical Principles Professional Codes of Conduct Some Real-World Ethical Dilemmas THE MORAL DIMENSIONS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS Information Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age Property Rights: Intellectual Property Accountability, Liability, and Control System Quality: Data Quality and System Errors Quality of Life: Equity, Access, and Boundaries HANDS-ON MIS PROJECTS Management Decision Problems Achieving Operational Excellence: Creating a Simple Blog Improving Decision Making: Using Internet Newsgroups for Online Market Research

4.2

2.

3.

4.3

4.

4.4

Interactive Sessions:
The Perils of Texting Too Much Technology?

LEARNING TRACK MODULES Developing a Corporate Code of Ethics for Information Systems Creating a Web Page

BEHAVIORAL TARGETING AND YOUR PRIVACY: YOU’RE THE TARGET
ver get the feeling somebody is trailing you on the Web, watching your every click? Wonder why you start seeing display ads and pop-ups just after you’ve been scouring the Web for a car, a dress, or cosmetic product? Well, you’re right: your behavior is being tracked, and you are being targeted on the Web so that you are exposed to certain ads and not others. The Web sites you visit track the search engine queries you enter, pages visited, Web content viewed, ads clicked, videos watched, content shared, and the products you purchase. Google is the largest Web tracker, monitoring thousands of Web sites. As one wag noted, Google knows more about you than your mother does. In March 2009, Google began displaying ads on thousands of Google-related Web sites based on their previous online activities. To parry a growing public resentment of behavioral targeting, Google said it would give users the ability to see and edit the information that it has compiled about their interests for the purposes of behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting seeks to increase the efficiency of online ads by using information that Web visitors reveal about themselves online, and if possible, combine this with offline identity and consumption information gathered by companies such as Acxiom. One of the original promises of the Web was that it can deliver a marketing message tailored to each consumer based on this data, and then measure the results in terms of click-throughs and purchases. The technology used to implement online tracking is a combination of cookies, Flash cookies, and Web beacons (also called Web bugs). Web beacons are small programs placed on your computer when you visit any of thousands of Web sites. They report back to servers operated by the beacon owners the domains and Web pages you visited, what ads you clicked on, and other online behaviors. A recent study of 20 million Web pages published by 2 million domains found Google, Yahoo, Amazon, YouTube, Photobucket, and Flickr among the top 10 Web-bugging sites. Google alone accounts for 20% of all Web bugs. The average home landing page at the top 100 Web domains has over 50 tracking cookies and bugs. And you thought you were surfing alone? Firms are experimenting with more precise targeting methods....
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