With the increasing use and innovation in technology, a number of ethical issues have arisen attracting controversial debates. These debates revolve around such issues as privacy, copyrights and others. This write-up will address the ethical considerations in data security, including those related to personally identifiable information. In its approach, the paper will research current literature in the area of ethics in IT and both the past and current legislation in the area of ethics in technology applications. Therefore, this paper will specifically examine a number of areas, including giving a description of the ethical frameworks in IT from the current IT literature and presenting the analysis of the current impact of ethics on technology applications. Lastly, the write-up will examine how past and current legislation in the area of ethics in technology does or will impact your chosen dilemma. In conclusion, the paper will also formulate the future of ethics in IT and anticipate the effect of ethical frameworks on this dilemma.
According to Wilson and Edelbach (2012), ethics is majorly described as a personal or group professional, religious, and/cultural practices that are intended to guide people’s actions and behaviors. Ethics therefore guides the way a particular group of people act in their daily life. This has also impacted technology because of its implication on data security in the IT sector. According to Dr. Ackcay (2008), the term ‘computer ethics’ was first used in 1970s, though it was not until 1990 that its use spread to such sectors as education where curriculum programs were recommended to schools to guide the handling of data. Other sectors, which have also followed this debate closely, include the heath and the legal sectors because of the need of privacy in the issues related to them.
According to Ackcay (2008), the recommendations by the Computer Ethics Institute have continued to influence the use of technological data to date. The Institute had recommended a number of rules, including those prohibiting the use of computers to harm other people, any interference with other people’s computer work or files and the use of a computer in stealing or bearing false witness. Additionally, it barred the individual’s use of any software that he/she has not paid for as well as the use of computers belonging to other people without their authorization. Finally, the laws by the institute prohibit any attempt aimed at appropriating the intellectual output belonging to another person as well as the general respect of other people’s computers. According to him, these ethical requirements help protect people’s privacy including those who are not even aware that their personal information is vulnerable to misuse by others whenever they are online.
Description of the Ethical Frameworks in IT
According to Ackcay (2008), the ethical implication of the data security in IT touches on privacy and confidentiality, hacking/spamming, property copyright, netiquette, vandalism, access and finally accuracy. He notes that to the Internet users, privacy/security has remained a very basic and important issue. He argues that this has been the case because of the faster growth in the use of the Internet due to the reduction in the cost of Internet connections, which have since generated many security concerns. Secondly, the ethical security in IT also guards against spamming/hacking, which normally occurs through the act, by which an individual forcefully sends numerous files through a network with an intention of forcing it to crash. This has since been described by law as an abuse of information and technology. Ackcay (2008) noted that other laws touch on such issues as piracy, accuracy, access, vandalism, netiquette and the property copyright.
Analysis of the Current Impact of Ethics on Technology Applications
A number of ethical requirements have been formulated to guide the use and the impact of technology in various sectors. The major aim of these laws has been to enhance the security of data being handled through IT. Anstead, et al (2000) note that there have been a number of laws like those of the employment, the codes of ethics and federal regulations which have impacted the application of technology. However, the laws generally aim at addressing the common Internet-related issues like privacy, hacking and those dealing with such issues as copyright.
The laws on confidentiality, for example, prohibit any person from passing any information to other people related to someone else. However, there have been cases of companies taking individual information collected through their websites and utilizing in their telemarketing or even selling the same to other companies. This law closely monitors the way in which organizations such as universities and banks carry out their financial online transactions. It places various disciplinary actions against those organizations, which are found to violate such laws (Ackcay 2008).
Regarding the spamming/hacking law, a case is cited in which, in the year 2005, a hack was conducted that targeted several admission files belonging to a number of business schools including Sloan University, Harvard University and Stanford University. Both Sloan and Stanford University Administrations decided to reject all the applicants who had had access to their confidential data with only Stanford University giving a chance to the students (Ackcay, 2008). The reactions of Sloan and Stanford attracted controversial debates with a number of people condemning their decisions against the students’ rights. This also shows that such institutions may also have their operations checked against such laws, as will likely be modified.
On the other hand, the law on copyright, also known as that of property, applies especially in the music and movie arenas. However, even with the numerous laws meant to offer protection to such property rights, their illegal access has continued. This is seen in the increasing cases of piracy of products like CDs (Anstead, et al, 2000).
Impact of Past and Current Legislation on the Ethics in Technology Dilemma
There are a number of legislations that do and will continue to impact the issue of ethical implication of data security in IT. The first is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that was meant to protect illegal access and use of information of children, who are under age 13. Another act is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which was meant to help in the protection of students’ educational privacy (Ackcay, 2008).
The property and the copyright law have continued to generate a debate, especially in the education sector, about the real owner of those education materials present online. This has also affected the operations of universities as their various professors tend to insist that the online materials should be treated as personal and not as the properties of the university. However, most universities have continued to insist that any information stored in their database must be treated as a copyright to the university.
Equally, the laws on netiquette limit the use of chat rooms in sending both the messages and pictures that are deemed offensive to another person. Moreover, the laws on vandalism hold the users responsible for both the computers and networks they are using. This has been the same case with the law on access of information, which has limited the way organizations can use the Internet to reward performance (Ackcay, 2008). Various organizations have therefore had to come up with a number of filtering systems as a way of protecting their children against any kind of websites like those of pornography deemed inappropriate. There has also been a number of software with specific features meant to prevent children from accidentally revealing such information as their age, school name, name, and phone numbers.
Finally, the laws on accuracy and trustworthiness of the information will also continue to influence the application of IT. Even though there has never been any agency tasked with monitoring to ensure that all the information posted online is accurate, it is expected that the increasing support is needed to ensure that only true and accurate information is posted online will in the future result in restriction of any false information. This will apply especially to the medical and legal issues, whose misrepresentation can leads to fatal confusions.
In conclusion, the issue of ethics in IT will continue to attract complex debates with the expected increase in the innovation and invention of new technologies. It is also true that even with the various laws, there is the need for public education on the basic use of these technologies to enable people become aware of the various circumstances, which may make them vulnerable to such illegal practices as hacking and losing their privacy.