Computing professionals are called to act in strict accordance with high ethical standards. Three predominant sources of ethical standards exist for computing professionals. The IEEE, ACM, and Software Engineering Code of Ethics each provide standards for ethical behavior to guide computing professionals both inside and outside of the workplace. These collections of moral imperatives will be used to ethically assess the following scenario.
Diane Jones is a computing professional who owns and operates a consulting business. Diane is designing a database management system for a client. Throughout the design process Diane has involved the CEO, director of computing, and the director of personnel from the client firm. Diane presented the client with several options regarding the level of security to be implemented into the database management system. Due to cost constraints, the client has elected to proceed with the least secure option. Diane feels strongly that this leaves the system vulnerable to attacks by either enterprising employees or Internet based hackers.
The stakeholders in this situation are the client’s CEO, the client’s director of computing, the client’s director of personnel, the client’s employees, Diane, and the employees of Diane’s company. An ethical dilemma places the client’s immediate desires in conflict with Diane’s ethical obligations to the client, the client’s employees, and herself. As a computing professional Diane has a responsibility to her client to produce a high-quality product that will protect their property and reputation. Diane has a responsibility to the client’s employees to build a system with adequate safeguards to protect their personal information stored within the database management system. As an employer Diane has a responsibility to herself and her employees to design a system that is of the highest quality in order to protect the company’s reputation.
Each stakeholder-party stands to suffer loss from a poorly implemented database management system. If Diane designs and builds a system that has insufficient security her reputation as a software engineering consultant could suffer greatly. As a computing professional Diane could be held responsible for damages arising from an inadequate security schema. Diane’s company could suffer loss to its reputation, a decrease in revenue, and could potentially be responsible for damages arising from a security breach in the database management system. The employees of the client’s organization could experience financial losses if their personal information is stolen. The careers of the client’s CEO, director of computing, and director of personnel could be negatively affected if they are found to share responsibility for the system’s poor design.
A review of the IEEE, ACM, and Software Engineering Code of Ethics provides a number of moral imperatives applicable to Diane’s case. A discussion of some applicable imperatives will work to clarify the appropriate...