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THE USE OF ICT AND ITS ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS

1.0 Introduction

As we stand on the verge of the information age, the social and ethical
implications of information and communication technology (ICT) are enormous
and mostly unknown. ICT is developing so rapidly that new possibilities emerge
before the social consequences can be fathomed (Rogerson & Bynum 1995).
New social or ethical policies for the information age are urgently needed to fill
rapidly multiplying policy vacuums (Moor 1985). But filling such vacuums is a
complex social process that will require active participation of individuals,
organizations, and governments and ultimately the world community (Bynum &
Schubert, 1998).

Ethics govern the internet in terms of how it should be used and the acceptable
and appropriate behaviour especially related to the use of the emails and
chatting. The difference between wrong and right is purely determined by the
individual that is using the Information communication technology (ICT) as ones
values and beliefs are different from another persons. However the net does
have certain rules in place known as netiquettes which ethically everyone should
follow. However a breach of these rules does have ethical implications
(Chauhan, 2000).

2.0 The Netiquettes

Some of the most common netiquettes are; do not spam or send junk email to
people, refrain from sending hate e-mails, be vary of viruses, hoax and chain
letters, and follow acceptable standards of politeness as used in all kinds of
communication. There are also issues of intellectual property rights such as
plagiarism, fair use, software piracy and file swapping. Issues also arise in terms
of the right of an individual. These include freedom of speech, personal privacy

0 The Dilemmas 3. community life. rules and laws that govern a person’s behaviour in the society and understand which behaviour is acceptable as ethical. Weiner believed that humans are social beings who can reach their full potential only by being part of similar beings. careers. 1954). decision making beings in charge of their own lives (Weiner. For human beings to truly flourish they have to engage in actions that maximise their full potential as intelligent. practices. viruses and destructive software. These days the through the use of computers and the World Wide Web. Although these technologies need repair. ICT had affected our lives in both good and bad ways such as education. relationships. and pornography (Chauhan. and censorship. internet fraud. Any person who functions successfully in a society is likely to be familiar with likely to be familiar with the existing customs. .and records confidentiality. There are three main principals that should be followed. principal of freedom. denial of service and other attacks. people are able to perform almost any task. 3.1Will ICT push you out of your job? People who have to cope with the introduction of new information technology should engage in ICT ethics by helping integrate new information technology into society in an ethical and acceptable way. freedom and democracy. spamming. flaming. Finally there are computer facilitated crimes such a hacking. they don’t require sleep or get tired. family life. 2000). However she argued that computers did not create ethically unique problems rather transformed old ethical problems in interesting and ethical ways. However Walter (1976) concluded that ethics became more complicated and got significantly altered since computers got introduced in to society. The very first concern that arose from the introduction of the net was the fact that it posed a threat on jobs. principal of equity and principal of benevolence.

rules and practices are needed if society is to manage these workplace developments efficiently and justly. The ease and efficiency in which computer networks can be used to gather. on the road. auto workers. regulations. In addition. In the short run. repetitive motion injuries. new kinds of jobs and job opportunities are being created (e. In the industry sector many workers have already been replaced by computerized devices such as bank tellers. magnetism and radiation from computer hardware.g. accountants..g. Hence these technologies are more efficient than human in performing tasks. computer generated unemployment will be an important social problem but in the long run information technology will create many more jobs than it will eliminate. “deskilling” of workers who only push buttons. The economic incentive to replace human with computers to conduct day to day business is very high. compare. stress keeping up with high speed machines. webmasters. But such benefits and opportunities are accompanied by risks and problems. like unemployment from computer-replaced humans.they don’t need to take time off work. typists and assembly line workers. and go home to relax. Even professional like lawyers. telephone operators.” A wide range of new laws.2 De-skilling of workers Work and the workplace are being dramatically transformed by ICT. at any hour or location). and psychologists are finding that by using computer technologies they can perform their traditional duties quite effectively. More flexibility and choice are possible (e. 3. graphic artists. and so on). and ICT “sweat shops” that pay “slave wages. working from home. 3. store. teachers. retrieve and share . security guards.. search.3 Computer Security The second issue is to do with privacy and confidentiality. Computer security is a big concern as viruses and hackers from thousands of miles away can easily access personal information. cyber-counsellors. data miners. surveillance of workers by monitoring software.

and decreasing costs of computer technology have led to new privacy issues such as data mining.4 Professional Responsibilities The third ethical issue arises over professional responsibilities. or preying upon the venerable (do you mean Vulnerable??). The rise of the world wide web. Computer professionals have specialized knowledge and often have positions with authority and respect in the community. professional to professional. Therefore they are able to have a significant impact upon the world including many of the things that people value. terrorism. and society to professional ( Johnson. when sexually explicit materials are provided on a web site in a culture in which they are permitted. 2001). For example. and then they are accessed by someone in a different culture where such materials are outlawed as obscene.personal information makes information technology threatening to anyone who wishes to keep various kinds of sensitive information out of the public domain or out of the hands of those who are perceived as potential threats. 1999).5 Globalisation . increasing user friendliness and processing power of computers. 3. There can be a variety of professional relationships such as employer to employee. The ones that are responsible will be aware of possible conflicts of interest and try to avoid them. anonymity can also be exploited to facilitate unwanted and undesirable computer aided activities in cyber space such as money laundering. These relationships involve a diversity of interests and sometimes these interests can conflict with each other. commercialization and rapid growth of the internet. The worldwide nature of the Internet has already led to many issues in need of policies to resolve them. Just like privacy. 3. data matching. comes the duty to exercise that power and responsibility (Gotterbarn. client to professional. 1994). Along with the power to change. drug trading. recoding of click trails on the web and so on (Tavani.

Such a conversation has implications for social policy that we can only begin to imagine (Gorniak. 3. sharing and debating of values and perspectives. distance education. individuals. global cyber business. control of pornography. global education. cyber- employment. protection of intellectual property. only the local law applies. Information technology ethics is rapidly evolving into a broader and even more important field which might reasonably be called global information ethics. discussions of social and political issues. Globalization has pointed out that ICT makes possible for the first time in history a genuinely global conversation about ethics and human values. For this reason. There have been numerous efforts to advance and defend human values in a truly global context. . global laws. or constrained by a specific religion or culture. Traditional borders and barriers between countries have now become less meaningful because most countries are interconnected by the Internet. Global networks such as the internet and the World Wide Web are connecting people all over the earth. It is extremely hard to govern issues like freedom of speech. and invasions of privacy when there are so many countries involved. companies and organizations in every culture can engage in global business transactions. and information rich and poor. So for example if computer users in the United States wish to protect their freedom of speech on the internet. 1995).5. Ethics and values in the information era for the first time are not limited to a particular geographic region.The fourth and final issue is globalization. and does not apply to the rest of the world.1 Nearly two hundred countries are already interconnected by the internet so the United States Constitution is just a local law on the internet. There are four main points surrounding issue of globalization.

5. to political. and religious practices. documents and art works from great libraries and museums of the world. 3.3. museums.5.4 Inequalities At the social or political level of education there will be an impact upon previously uneducated people of the world when they suddenly gain access to libraries. . It could also mean that well accepted business practices in one part of the world be perceived as cheating or fraud in other parts of the world. students will be able to earn university credits from all around the globe but there will be problems with setting the standards. Nations with a technological infrastructure already in place will enjoy rapid economic growth while the rest of the world will lag behind. When people in one country purchase goods and services from merchants in another country it is very hard to regulate or tax the transactions. religious and social practices of peoples everywhere.3 If inexpensive access to the global information net is provided to rich and poor alike to poverty-stricken people in ghettos. coherent cultures.5. Once this technology is in place there will be rapid expansion of global cyber business. This could have a big impact upon political dictatorships. and other sources of knowledge. More universities will begin to offer degrees and knowledge modules via the internet. to poor nations in the third world then global education can improve. newspapers.2 The world is very close to having technology that can provide electronic privacy and security on the internet sufficient to safely conduct international business transactions. However when hundreds of universities and colleges worldwide start to offer educational credit for courses and modules. to texts. 3. isolated communities. This could possibly lead to a few wealthy nations widening the already big gap between rich and poor and political and even military confrontations. They will not be able to access to the world’s great newspapers in closed societies with no free press. Nearly everyone on earth will have access to daily news from a free press. When transactions occur in cyberspace different laws apply to business on the Internet.

and even technophobes. 3. and even between rich and poor citizens in industrialized countries. Family relationships or friendships can be affected by mobile phones. For example. medical services and many other necessities of life move more and more into cyberspace. As educational opportunities. educational opportunities. and cybersex. have had limited access to ICT resources. The gap between rich and poor nations. the old. assistive technology for . palmtop and laptop computers. These relationships are based upon interactions that never could occur in regular space-time settings. in the past. But there is an issue with how fulfilling and genuine these relationships will be and will they crowd out better. is already disturbingly wide. 3.The internet could either foster global democracy or become a tool for control and manipulation of the masses by a handful of powerful government or powerful cooperations. rural residents. The efficiency and convenience of ICT can lead to shorter work hours and more “quality time” with the family or ICT can create instead a more hectic and breathless lifestyle which separates family and friends from each other.6 Relationships There are ethical and social issues arising from human relationships. People without an electronic identity may have no socially recognized identity at all! Therefore social justice requires that society develop policies and practices to more fully include people who. persons with disabilities. these gaps between the rich and the poor will become even worse. virtual-reality conferencing. women. telecommuting to work and school. the poor. employment. business and employment opportunities. more satisfying face-to-face relationships. leisure-time activities will become harder and harder.7 What category?? As more and more of society’s activities and opportunities enter cyberspace business opportunities. persons of colour. People can be isolated in front of a computer hour after hour or they can find new friendships and relationships in “virtual communities” in cyberspace. medical services.

literary works. hearing impairments and deafness.8 Democracy ICT also has the potential to significantly change the relationship between individual citizens and governments.9 Piracy In the information age. Possession and control of information will be the keys to wealth. But digitized . services. the “information rich” (why quotation marks here and not below?) will run the world. Visual impairments and blindness. reports. regional and national. worry that government officials who are regularly bombarded with e-mail from angry voters might be easily swayed by short-term swings in public mood that hackers could disrupt or corrupt electronic election processes and that dictatorial governments might find ways the use ICT to control and intimidate the population more effectively than ever before. It can provide easy citizen access to government information. Optimists point out that ICT. video. power and success. Those who own and control the information infrastructure will be amongst the wealthiest and most powerful of all. And those who own digitized intellectual property software. and the information poor will be poor indeed.people with disabilities. educational resources will possess major economic assets. people who would otherwise be utterly dependent upon others for almost everything suddenly find their lives transformed into happy. inability to control one’s limbs. even near-total paralysis are no longer be major impediments to happiness and productivity. 3. if used appropriately. can enable better citizen participation in democratic processes can make government more open and accountable. near-normal ones. as well as e-mailed messages to legislators and ministers. on the other hand. Pessimists. As a result. local. databases. could give citizens more timely input into government decisions and law making. A variety of hardware and software has been developed in recent years to enable people with disabilities to use ICT easily and effectively. music. What 3. productive. plans and proposed legislation. Electronic voting and referenda.

graphic art. newsprint and excerpts from various literary works. A single program. and therefore the piracy of intellectual property will be a major social problem. might make use of bits and snippets of photographs. easily transferred across borders. It is the goal of computer ethics to identify and analyze the policy vacuums and help to formulate new social/ ethical policies to resolve them. It is also possible to mix and combine several types of digitized resources to create “multimedia” works of various kinds.0 Future Direction 5. Even today. As with any new technology. The vast majority of such issues are still unknown. video clips. in some countries over ninety percent of the software is pirated not to mention the music and video resources. However as humans we must sensibly weigh out the technology’s benefits against its possible harms and devise actions that mitigate risks so that we can successfully use ICT for our welfare. and they will only come into view when generated. 4. sound bites. when the powerful and flexible new technology of ICT generates them. for example.information is easily copied and altered.0 Conclusion These are only a small fraction of the social and ethical issues that ICT will generate in the coming information age. the birth of ICT brought about ethical dilemmas that were discussed above. for example. .

3) . James H. ed. Terrell Ward Bynum and Petra Schubert. J. ed. Computers and Ethics. Complutense University Press. (Republished in Metaphilosophy. 177 – 190.. “Computer Ethics and Moral Methodology” in Porfirio Barroso. van den Hoven. 1995. 1996.. Krystyna Górniak. 1985. pp. 444 – 453. Erasmus University Press.6. pp. van den Hoven. July 1997. pp. eds. 28. 266 – 75 (published as the October 1985 issue of the journal Metaphilosophy). Simon Rogerson and Terrell Ward Bynum. “The Computer Revolution and the Problem of Global Ethics” in Bynum and Rogerson. Proceedings of ETHICOMP96. J. Blackwell.. “What Is Computer Ethics?” in Terrell Ward Bynum. Global Information Ethics. M. 85 – 95. pp.0 References Terrell Ward Bynum and Simon Rogerson. 1998. No. Computer Ethics – Philosophical Enquiry. “Cyberspace: the Ethical Frontier” in The Higher Education Supplement to the London Times. Values and Social Responsibilities of Computer Science.. June 9. Eds. Vol. 1996. Moor. 1996 (published as the April 1996 issue of Science and Engineering Ethics). Simon Rogerson and Terrell Ward Bynum. Opragon Press. “How to Do Computer Ethics – A Case Study: The Electronic Mall Bodensee” in M.