Internet Ethics

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The internet is a global network of networks using universal standards to connect millions of different networks (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). With millions of people trafficking the networks everyday it is virtually impossible to monitor all unethical behaviors. Throughout the internet there are people who are publishing false information, using fake identification, hacking accounts for financial benefits, or countless other criminal acts and there is no way of stopping all of them. The internet is open to everyone and a lot of these modern businesses can’t function without it. A lot of the problems dealt in the internet aren’t solely on business users but anyone who has access to internet, so whatever affects the casual user defiantly affects the business user.

While searching for ethicis in Information Technology I came across an article titled “The Internet and the death of ethics” written by Dennis O’Reilly in which he writes about his point of view and his personal experience dealing with this subject. In the article he reference The Computer Ethics Institute’s Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics.They created this list in order to “entreat computer users to treat each other with consideration and respect.” Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics are as follows:

1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.

2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.

3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files.

4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.

5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.

6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.

7. Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or

proper compensation.

8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.

9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing

or the system you are designing.

10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and

respect for your fellow humans.

This list is a great way in an attempt to pinpoint every single thing that people do wrong on the internet. But just like any other rules or regulations people either ignore them or don’t care to follow them.

In the first of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people. This is basically to all those who are hackers. Hackers are people who gain unauthorized access to a computer network for profit, criminal mischief, or personal pleasure (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). For business this could be devastating in that financial information or personal records could hack and be used to the hacker’s liking. The hacker could even use the information they access in order to the blackmail a person they want to extort from. This in result can lead to millions of dollars lost or loss of customers who feel unease with the company that was a victim of a hacker.

In the second of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work. This defiantly more for the business in that virus can interfere with user’s work. A computer virus is a rogue software program that attaches itself to other software programs or data files in order to be executed, often causing hardware and software malfunctions (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). Main way people interfere with other people, it may not be solely on business user but any once who is allowed to be a victim of this attack. This is also another mistake that can cost a company millions of dollars if not adressed or prevented first.

In the Third of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files. This is one is a bit more complicated to justify. Just like in the first commandment hackers are the ones who look into other people computer files. There are people with malicious intent. However those who fight to protect our rights and liberties are also perpetrators that same command. Law enforcement that specifically work in the cyber-crimes unit do go through criminal or suspects’ personal files who see if there is any evidence of crimes done.

In the Fourth of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not use a computer to steal. This one goes hand to hand with the first three listed. Breaking into a bank account to collect information about the account is wrong. It is also wrong to obtain personal information of employees from an employee database. Basically it is wrong to obtain information that is meant to be confidential.

In the Fifth of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness. This is a very popular one especially now with the use of social networking sites. Social Networking Sites is online community for expanding users’ business or social contracts by making connections through their mutual business or personal connections (Laudon & Laudon, 2012). More specifically in immediate social websites like twitter spreading wrong information is a common occurrence. For business this can be harmful in which an angry or vengeful customer post that the company has mishandle or mistreated this person but in reality they are just bitter that they didn’t get what they wanted.

In the Sixth of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid. This one is the most costly one for tech businesses. Basically do not use an illegal copy of software. This is what most popular in the video game business in which hackers copy a software version of a game and then spread it out through the internet illegally. This is what for the game industry is called piracy. This is a high priority for the game industry since as time passes on more games are made for downloads distribution and not for physical disk distribution. Game companies are heavily finically impacted with this illegal method of software distribution.

In the Seventh of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation. This is again hacking someone’s account and from that account using it for personal benefit. However it doesn’t necessarily have to be a hacker doing this. Anyone who memorizes someone else’s password without letting them know and use their accounts is people who also fall in this technical “sin”. Employees are mostly known for this, trying to sabotage somebody in personal spite and this hurts a business even if it wasn’t in their intentions.

In the Eight of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output. This one is basically claiming something that doesn’t belong to you. This the software version of plagiarism in which someone creates a program and you claimed to do it and in reality you didn’t. This one is a lot harder to do since companies are more aware of this place patents and trademarks in anything that their workers develop. Even if the main programmer of a project chooses to leave the program in which they are developing is property of the company.

In the Ninth of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing. This one is basically be aware of what your program does and make sure it doesn’t offend anyone. This is more involved with education and video games industries. For both industries it is crucial to know the audience in which they are creating software towards. For example there is an education game for children for under the age of 5 however there is language that is inappropriate for the young audience the people who are going to notice that are the parent and they will sue that company. Also a company has to be as neutral or as politically correct in order to avoid criticisms or false claim of the software having an agenda towards a specific race, nationality, or religion.

Finally, the last of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans. This one should be heard by all users of social sites that encourages interaction between people. Basically respect everyone you contact with. Do not offend or use profanity towards one another. Be respectful and considerate to everyone opinions and feelings.

In the internet no one is really immune to the damaging effects that could be caused if users are not careful. There is more than one way to be hit and victims could be immensely impacted especially in Business. In the same article I mentioned earlier, the author states that “The fight for an ethical Internet may be a lost cause… I’m starting to think there are no ethics in business” (Reilly, 2010).

It is sad to say that as much as security has change and more people are aware about what is happening throughout the web, I have to agree with him. The only way this could change if there were more control on what is being done throughout the World Wide Web but by definition this will also remove the freedoms we have with using the internet. The concept of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is a great one to be followed but like most things that ask for cooperation and order if falls mostly on deaf ears.

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