The introduction of computers in to the modern household has brought with it new moral issues. In the last 10 years computers have become increasingly cheaper to buy, due to huge technological advances and fierce competition, driving prices down. It the wake of the computer revolution the internet has followed quickly, becoming faster, cheaper and more accessible. With these technological advances the world has become increasingly smaller enabling piracy and file sharing to become common practice. Society now has many new issues to work through, from invasion of privacy to the copying of movies and hacking.
To define exactly what computer ethics is a difficult task due to it being tied to an evolving technology, the field changes whenever the technology changes.
Computer ethics did not truly exist as an ethical discipline until the 1970’s. Walter Maner was the first to use such a term stating it as “ethical problems aggravated, transformed or created by computer technology” [Maner, 1978]. While new ethical problems have arisen he also stated that old or existing problems have been made worse due to the expansion of information technology. Since then, several people have had different views on what computer ethics actually is.
In 1985 Deborah Johnson wrote a book entitled Computer ethics. It defined computer ethics as the study that “pose new versions of standard moral problems and moral dilemmas, exacerbating the old problems, and forcing us to apply ordinary moral norms in uncharted realms” [Johnson, 1985]. Johnson was similar to that of Maner however; she did not believe computers created new ethical issues. Instead, recommending computers solely altered the existing issues by giving them a “twist”.
The best definition of this field was by James Moor. He stated that “Computers are logically malleable in that they can be shaped and molded to do any activity that can be categorized in terms of inputs, outputs and connecting logical operations” [Moor, 1985]. He suggested that the computer revelation is happening in two stages. The first is the introduction and enhancement phase. This stage has been and gone. The second stage is the implementation of computing into everyday life, in which the world is currently in the process of.
Computers are becoming apart of everyday activities, the threat is, this increases the chance of you becoming a victim of a form of computer crime [Khanna, 2005]. The notion of computer viruses or the thought that someone could hack into your computer from halfway around the world is certainly a major issue in the ideas of Computer Ethics. Where once physical security was the main problem, it appears that ‘logical security’ is considered more important [Khanna, 2005].
Spafford, Heaphy and Ferbrache divided the concept of logical security into five characteristics: Privacy and confidentiality, Integrity, Unimpaired service, Consistency and controlling access [Spafford, 1989].
Privacy was one of the...