Identify the Ethical Issues within the Field of Information Technology
When thinking about ethical issues within the field of information technology, you have to break it down to understand the meanings. What is ethics? What is an ethical issue? How does an ethical issue affect the field of information technology?
What is ethics? Ethics are a moral standard that a person may use to decide whether something is right or wrong. “Ethics is the study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices made by individuals.” Two philosophical systems of ethical conduct are relativism and situational. “Relativism is a theory that holds that there are only beliefs, perspectives, and values.” And “situational ethics, which states that decision making should be based on the circumstances of a particular situation.” Other systems of ethical conduct are based on religion like Judeo-Christian ethics. “Judeo-Christian ethics” refers to the common set of basic values shared across the Jewish and Christian religious traditions.” And they state the beliefs of “respecting property and relationships, honoring one’s parents, and being kind to others” (Evans, Martin & Poatsy 2012).
There are four basic elements that contribute to our ethical development. They are family, religion, experience and teachers. Family is basics of where we normally learn the difference between right and wrong. This stems from the way we were raised by our parents. When it comes to religion, it is what our faith teaches us through scripture that guides us. Experience is learnt through life. The last of the elements are Teachers. Teachers teach us through instructional books.
What is an ethical issue? An ethical issue is a dilemma or problem that needs to be solved. It can only be solved using some type of ethical decision making process that is based on your own set of ethics or your employer’s. For example whether or not to use one copy of a Microsoft operating system software per each computer or to copy the same operating system on all the computers in a company. Maybe there could be a third option by getting a user agreement signed with Microsoft that would allow the company to use only one copy on all the computers. “Intellectual property (such as music, writing, and software) is protected by copyright law. But there have been challenges in enforcing these standards in other countries.” (Evans et al 2012). The areas of ethics in the field of information technology that I will talk about are computer abuse, freedom of speech issues and privacy. Computer abuse is using a computer outside of set parameters that are regulator within a company policy. For example cyber-bullying by the use of a school computer or electronic device that is provided for use by students. Freedom of speech issues could arise when someone uses a computer for personal use to make a statement that looks bad to a company and could result in an employee being fired. If you choose to make a statement you better make sure that the employer cannot trace the statement back to the company in any way. For example “Consider Ellen Simonetti, who was fired by Delta Air- lines for blogging. Even though Ms. Simonetti never mentioned Delta Airlines by name on her blog (“Queen of the Sky: Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant”), Delta Airlines objected to photos that she posted of herself and fellow flight attendants in their Delta uniforms. Delta Airlines felt that the photos were inappropriate and portrayed negative images of Delta Airlines employees.” (Evans et al 2012). Personal privacy is an issue that every company should be concerned with especially considering the recent events with companies losing customer information. On the other side of things, I believe that a company has every right to monitor work internet services and email services for improper usage that are supposed to be used for company business. Look if you want to or have to send a text or email during the work day there are so many other options you can choose from other than using company provided communications devices.
In conclusion there are numerous ethical decision that have to be made to settle ethical issue within the field of information technology.
Alan Evans, Kendall Martin, and Mary Anne Poatsy (2012) Information Technology Ethics Technology in Action, Eighth Edition, Ch. 3 Pg. 138-159