The problem to be investigated is how information technology has changed the way society perceives ethics; how information technology can be used ethically, and how to develop a code of ethics to alleviate many ethical issues.
Information Technology: Social Perceptions
The internet is a relatively new phenomenon; society has not yet recognized the huge social impact that information technology has had and will have in the future. Within the last decade there has been a steady mass migration of people from around the world who have embraced the digital environment. During major events such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, people were asked “and where were you?” the answer often was, “online.” (Floridi, 2007) Along with the benefits of having rapid information at our fingertips there are also a few detrimental consequences to consider. Because of the new technological advancements and the resultant emerging ethical considerations, students need guidance in making ethical decisions, which are now unique to today’s technology driven world. (Brooks, 2010, p. 11)
The Josephson Institute conducts a national survey on the ethics of American high school students every two years. Stealing, lying and cheating have risen exponentially. (Brooks, 2010) Within the IT industry snooping has become excessive; IT professionals are accessing computers without authorization and reading confidential information without a legitimate reason. The Ponemon Institute did a survey of 16,000 IT practitioners and found that forty two percent said they had knowingly violated company privacy, security and IT policies. (Harbert, 2007, p. 35) These harrowing statistics, which reflect darkly on our society, should ring loud and clear to everyone that there is a clear need for new ethical education in schools and within the cyber world for IT professionals.
“Cyber ethics are those that apply to the online environment. Although cyber ethics has become an important topic for elementary school children, high school students, college and university students, as well as those in the workplace in recent years, the treatment of what is and is not cyber-ethical behavior varies from place to place.” ("technical definition of cyber ethics," 2010, p. 1) Cultural differences vary worldwide in the understanding and treatment of ethics.
Interestingly, the Computer Ethics Institute has developed a list of cyber commandments. The list includes those ethical issues which relate to computer professionals, such as: to not appropriate other people’s intellectual property as your own, to not ignore the social and legal consequences related to the software program one is writing or the computer system one is designing, and to not illegally copy or use proprietary software that has not been paid for or for which credit has not been given.
There are also everyday ethical issues for every person who uses a computer. These ethical considerations include: interfering with others’ computer or...