The problem to be investigated is the connection between ethical foundations and the challenges presented by information technology in today’s high intensity electronic environment. The discussion centers on the topics of societal ethical changes caused by information technology, the ethical usage of information the technology, and the development of a code of ethics surrounding these ethical issues. These topics are reviewed using Brooks (2010, October) article titled, The development of a code of ethics: An outline classroom approach to making connections between ethical foundations and the challenges presented by information technology.
Societal Ethical Changes Caused by Information Technology
Information technology has greatly increased the ease of access to information to most of society on a largely unmonitored basis resulting in the need for heightened awareness of security, privacy, and the protection of intellectual property. (Brooks, p. 2) Though it may seem that this topic has gained greater attention in the past few years, the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility was founded in 1983 to deal with just these issues. (Brooks, p. 2) Crimes of moral character including stealing, lying, and cheating are as prevalent in today’s world of information technology as they are in real terms. (Brooks, p. 4)
A 2008 on-line survey conducted by the Josephson Institute found that one-third of boys and one-fourth of girls surveyed admitted to stealing in the past year. (Brooks, p. 4) This translates all too well to rampant downloading of proprietary or copy written material from web sites. The illegal uploading and downloading of music became so prevalent that there was almost a feeling that if you did not “take advantage” of the “free” access that you were somehow not in on the latest and greatest provided by the world of technology. A sense of entitlement was generated by the fact that “everyone” was doing it. In fact, to not participate was more generally misunderstood rather than the reality of the unlawful behavior. At he same time, though everyone was doing it, it was happening one individual and one song at a time providing people with the feeling that there was little harm in just their individual action. After all, how much harm is really done if just one song is downloaded? This thought seemed to provide justification to the action of the individual, but when looked at in totality, even those who participated would recognize the inappropriateness and illegality of the action. The music and movie industries had to become more aggressive in identifying and prosecuting these actions and have been somewhat successful in reducing the level of piracy. The BPI is one organization that works to combat piracy, Counterfeit, and Bootlegging. This organization coordinates a team of investigators who work with enforcement agencies to tackle the problem. The BPI targets large organizations that are involved in the...