News article about an ethical issue that involves computer technology

The original Apple Web camera came with a clever mechanical extra, a physical shutter that blocked the lens when it was off. The shutter and the switch were linked together; there was no way to use the camera without opening the shutter yourself. Some of the newer webcams come with an LED that's supposed to be illuminated when the camera is activated. It usually works, but anyone who has programmed a computer knows there may be a place in the code where the camera and the LED can be decoupled. If that can be found, the camera can be turned into a spying device.

The challenge for the engineer is anticipating misuse and designing to prevent it. The Apple shutter is one of the obvious and effective examples of how it can be done elegantly. When I was working on a book about cheating on the SAT, I met one hacker who was adding networking software to his calculator. After some deliberation, he decided to only support wired protocols because he was afraid kids would sneak a calculator with Wi-Fi into an exam.

By supporting only wired protocols, he ensured that anyone in a test would need to run a wire to their neighbor's machine. He hated skipping the wireless protocols, but he felt the risk of abuse was too high. If you collect data, it's a safe bet that your organization will someday be caught between serving your customers and serving the government.

Requests to deliver data to legal entities are becoming increasingly common, leaving more and more software and services organizations to contemplate to what extent they will betray their customers' privacy before the law. You can scrutinize these requests and even hire your own lawyers to contest whether they are truly lawful, but the reality is that the courts will be debating legalities long after your funding runs out.

There are no easy solutions. Some companies are choosing to leave the business rather than lie to their customers.

Ethical principles

Others are trying to be more open about requests, which the government often tries to forbid. Ethical dilemma No. The Internet runs everywhere, avoiding many of the traditional barriers at the borders. This can be a recipe for legal headaches when customers A and B are in different countries. That's only the beginning, because servers C and D are often in entirely different countries as well.

This leads to obvious ethical issues. Europe, for instance, has strict laws about retaining personal information and views privacy breaches as ethical failures. Other countries insist on companies keeping copious records on dealings. Whose laws should a company follow when customers are in different countries? When data is in different counties? When data is transferred across international lines? Keeping up with every legal contingency can be Herculean, leaving many organizations surely tempted to bury their heads in the sand.

Computer scientists face new technology’s ethical thicket | The Seattle Times

Everyone knows that open source is free. You don't pay anything and that's what makes it so wonderful and complex. But not everyone contemplates the ethical issues that come with using that free code.

All of the open source packages come with licenses and you need to follow them. Some of the licenses don't require much sacrifice. Parsing open sources licenses can present ethical challenges. One manager from a big public company told me, "We don't distribute MySQL, so we don't owe anyone anything. There are no simple ways to measure the ethical obligations, and many programmers have wasted many keystrokes arguing about what they mean. Still, the entire endeavor will grind to a halt if people stop giving.

Potholes ahead?

The good news is that it's often in everyone's best interest to contribute because everyone wants the software to remain compatible with their use of it. Maybe your boss wants to make sure the customers aren't ripping off the company. Maybe you want to make sure you get paid for your work. Maybe some spooky guy from the government says you must install a backdoor to catch bad guys. In every case, the argument is filled with assurances that the backdoor will only be used, like Superman's powers, to support truth and justice.

Note: In this article, we're using the word hacker in the current common meaning, pertaining to "black hat" hackers who use their skills to break into systems and access data and programs without the permission of the owners. We're well aware that the term originally referred to anyone with advanced programming skills, and that there are "white hat hackers" who use their skills to help companies and individuals protect against the black hats.

In fact, many IT pros don't even realize that their jobs involve ethical issues. Yet we make decisions on a daily basis that raise ethical questions.

Should you read the private e-mail of your network users just because you can? Is it OK to read employees' e-mail as a security measure to ensure that sensitive company information isn't being disclosed? Is it OK to read employees' e-mail to ensure that company rules for instance, against personal use of the e-mail system aren't being violated? If you do read employees' e-mail, should you disclose that policy to them?

Before or after the fact? Remember that we're not talking about legal questions here. A company may very well have the legal right to monitor everything an employee does with its computer equipment. We're talking about the ethical aspects of having the ability to do so. As a network administrator or security professional, you have rights and privileges that allow you to access most of the data on the systems on your network. You may even be able to access encrypted data if you have access to the recovery agent account.

What you do with those abilities depends in part on your particular job duties for example, if monitoring employee mail is a part of your official job description and in part on your personal ethical beliefs about these issues. A common concept in any ethics discussion is the "slippery slope. In looking at the list of privacy issues above, it's easy to justify each of the actions described. But it's also easy to see how each of those actions could "morph" into much less justifiable actions.

The slippery slope concept can also go beyond using your IT skills. If it's OK to read other employees' e-mail, is it also OK to go through their desk drawers when they aren't there? To open their briefcases or purses? What if your perusal of random documents reveals company trade secrets?

What if you later leave the company and go to work for a competitor? Is it wrong to use that knowledge in your new job? Would it be "more wrong" if you printed out those documents and took them with you, than if you just relied on your memory? What if the documents you read showed that the company was violating government regulations or laws?

List View: Terms & Definitions

Do you have a moral obligation to turn them in, or are you ethically bound to respect your employer's privacy? Would it make a difference if you signed a nondisclosure agreement when you accepted the job? IT and security consultants who do work for multiple companies have even more ethical issues to deal with. Issues include:. See: freedom of information , media transparency Right to Information. L Mera. Media integrity refers to the ability of a media outlet to serve the public interest and democratic process , making it resilient to institutional corruption within the media system, [7] economy of influence, conflicting dependence and political clientelism.

Media integrity encompasses following qualities of a media outlet:. Within the last two decades, numerous regional discussions have taken place in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia in order to create a universal code of ethics for the information society. One of the core issues in developing a universal code for media ethics is the difficulty of finding a common ground between ethical principles from one culture to another.

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Media economics where things such as -- deregulation of media, concentration of media ownership , FCC regulations in the U. S, media trade unions and labor issues, and other such worldwide regulating bodies, citizen media low power FM , community radio -- have ethical implications The media has manipulated the way public officials conduct themselves through the advancement of technology. Constant television coverage displays the legislative proceedings; exposing faster than ever before, unjust rulings throughout the government process.

Current computer technology - Current computer technology news - Current computer technology problem

Truth telling is crucial in media ethics as any opposition of truth telling is considered deception. Anything shown by the media whether print or video is considered to be original. If values differ interculturally, the issue arises of the extent to which behaviour should be modified in the light of the values of specific cultures. Two examples of controversy from the field of media ethics:.

One theoretical question for media ethics is the extent to which media ethics is just another topical subdivision of applied ethics , differing only in terms of case applications and raising no theoretical issues peculiar to itself. The oldest subdivisions of applied ethics are medical ethics and business ethics.

What Sci-Fi Can Teach Computer Science About Ethics

Does media ethics have anything new to add other than interesting cases? Privacy and honesty are issues extensively covered in medical ethical literature, as is the principle of harm-avoidance. The trade-offs between economic goals and social values has been covered extensively in business ethics as well as medical and environmental ethics.

The issues of freedom of speech and aesthetic values taste are primarily at home in media ethics.

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