Computer Ethics Awareness Among University Students

930 words - 4 pages

1.1 Background
Computers are the core technology of our times and apparently, the most important technology to be invented and used by man . Without computers and computer networks, especially, the Internet, activities of most organizations, such as banks, schools, government agencies would simply grind to a halt. Modern society's dependence on the use of information technology, make it more vulnerable to computer malfunction caused by unreliable software and to computer misuse (Forrester and Morrison, 2001). According to Forrester and Morrison (2001), this unethical use of computer have created a whole new range of social problems, which include computer crime, software theft, hacking, the creation of viruses, invasion of privacy, overreliance on intelligent machines and workplace stress.
This unethical behaviour related to Information System (IS) have caused significant losses to businesses and the society at large. Professional IT bodies are concerned about these ethical problems because of their potential harm to the society and to the integrity of the IT profession. The Association Computing Machinery (ACM), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the British Computer Society and International Federation for Information Processing (IFP) came together to formulate codes of ethics and professional conduct for IT professionals, as a way to check or reduce unethical conduct in the IT profession. The 1991 report of the ACM/IEEE-CS Curriculum Task Force recommended the introduction of computer ethics into Computer Science Curriculum at University level (Martin & Yale-Weltz, 1999). The report stressed the importance to expose students to ethical and societal issues that are associated with the computing field during the point of training. This, according to Johnson (1994) will help make students (future computing professionals) aware of the ethical issues surrounding computers, to sensitise them to ethical issues in the use of computers, and in the practice of the computing professions, convey to students a deep understanding of the ways in which computers change and impact on society, and provide conceptual tools and develop analytic skills for ethical decision making within the computing world.
Several authors have defined Computer ethics differently. Maner (1970) describes computer ethics as a study that examines ethical problems that are aggravated, transformed or created by computer technology. Johnson (1985) in her book “Computer Ethics” viewed computer ethics as the way in which computers 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. Four key areas of computer ethics are: computer crime, responsibility for computer failure, protection of computer property, records, and software and privacy of the company, workers, and customers. Computer crime refers to any crime that involves a computer and...

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