Ethics and Social Issues in Information Systems

‡ Technology as a double-edged sword
± Gives benefits to some ± Takes benefits away from others

‡ Ethical dilemmas ‡ Information systems are not the masterminds behind frauds!!
± Play an instrumental role in many cases

‡ What are ethics?
± Principles of right and wrong that individuals, acting as free moral agents, use to make choices to guide their behavior. ± When faced with alternative courses of action, what is the correct moral choice?

‡ Ethical issues in Information Systems?
± Internet and digital technology make it easier to assemble, integrate and distribute information ± Unleashes concerns about
‡ appropriate use of customer information ‡ Protection of personal privacy ‡ Protection of intellectual property

Model for thinking about Ethical, Social and Political Issues
‡ Close link between ethical, social and political issues ‡ In equilibrium:
± Society as a calm pond ± Individuals know how to act because social institutions have developed rules of behavior ± Rules supported by law in the political sector

‡ If the equilibrium gets disturbed
± New situation which is not covered by old rules ± Social and political institutions require time to respond

Moral Dimensions in the Information Age ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Information rights and obligations Property rights and obligations Accountability and control System quality Quality of life .

Key Technology Trends that raise Ethical Issues ‡ Four key technological trends responsible for heightened ethical concerns: 1. Doubling of computing power every 18 months ± Organizations use IS for their core production processes ± Increased dependence on systems ± Increased vulnerability to poor quality data ± No universally accepted standards for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of information systems .

Rapidly declining data storage costs ± ± ‡ ‡ Huge databases on individuals maintained by public and private organizations Enables violation of individual privacy Who will account for the flow of information over the internet? Will you be able to trace information about you? 3. Networking advances and the internet .Key Technology Trends that raise Ethical Issues 2.

phone calls. ± Webnetad ± NORA (Nonobvoius relationship awareness) .Key Technology Trends that raise Ethical Issues 4. magazine subscriptions. Data analysis advances ± Companies and government agencies are able to find detailed personal information ± Profiling: use of computers to combine data from multiple sources and create electronic dossiers of detailed information on individuals ± Information generated through credit card purchases. visit to web sites etc.

and obligations for the decisions you make ‡ Accountability: mechanisms to determine who is responsible for a particular action ± ethical actions are impossible if actors in a system are not accountable .Ethics in an Information Society: Basic Concepts ‡ Ethical choices are decisions made by individuals who are responsible for the consequences of their actions ‡ Responsibility: you accept the potential costs. duties.

systems or an organization ‡ Due Process: a process in which laws are understood and there is an ability to appeal to higher authorities to ensure that the laws are applied correctly .Ethics in an Information Society: Basic Concepts ‡ Liability: a body of laws is in place that permits individuals to recover the damage done to them by other actors.

They are accountable! ± Individuals can recover damages done to them through a set of laws characterized by due process . Their impacts are products of institutional. organizational and individual actions and behaviors. ± Responsibility for the consequences of the technology falls on the organization and individuals who choose to use the technology.Ethics in an Information Society: Basic Concepts ‡ Ethical analysis of information systems: ± IS do not have impacts by themselves.

3. 5. 4. 2. How would you analyze a situation that addresses an ethical issue? 5-step process: Identify and describe clearly the facts Define the value of dilemma and identify the higher-order values involved Identify the stakeholders Identify the options that you can reasonably take Identify the potential consequences of your options .Ethics in an Information Society: Ethical Analysis ‡ 1.

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you 2.Ethics in an Information Society: Candidate Ethical Principles 1. Descartes¶ Rule of Change: if an action cannot be taken repeatedly. it is not right for anyone 3. it is not right to take at all . Immanuel Kant¶s Categorical Imperative: if an action is not right for everyone to take.

If something someone else has created is of value to you. Utilitarian Principle: take the action that achieves the higher or greater value 5. Risk Aversion Principle: take the action that produces the least harm or the least potential cost 6. µNo free lunch¶ rule: all tangible and intangible objects are owned by someone. the creator wants compensation for this work .Ethics in an Information Society: Candidate Ethical Principles 4.

Some real world ethical dilemmas? .

Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Privacy: the claim of individuals to be left alone. profitable and effective . free from surveillance or interference from other individuals or organizations. including the state ± Claim to privacy protected in constitutions ± Privacy protection much more stringent in Europe than in the US ± Information technology makes the invasion of privacy cheap.

Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Fair Information Practices (FIP): a set of principles governing the collection and use of information about individuals ± Based on the mutuality of interest between the record holder and the individual .

web pages that have been visited etc. ‡ Much of this monitoring occurs in the background. without the visitors knowledge .Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Internet challenges to privacy: ± Information passes through many different computer systems before it reaches its final destination ‡ Each system is capable of monitoring. capturing and storing communications that pass through it ‡ Record of what searches have been conducted.

‡ They identify the visitors web browser software and track visits to the web site ‡ Websites will then know what the visitor has done in the past when they visit their site again.: ± What is cookie technology? ‡ Cookies are tiny files deposited on a computer hard drive when a user visits certain websites. that information can be combined with a cookie to identify the visitor . ‡ If a person has registered at a website.Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Internet challenges to privacy contd.

: ± Examples: ‡ Google uses behavioral targeting to display more relevant ads based on users¶ search activities ‡ Scans the content of email messages received by subscribers of gmail.Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Internet challenges to privacy contd. Ads are then based on the subject of these messages ‡ Google chrome¶s suggest feature automatically suggests related queries and web sites as user enters a search .

: ± Websites now feature an opt-out selection box ‡ Permits the collection of personal information until the user specifically requests that the data not be collected. ‡ Opt-in model ± Firms are adopting self-regulation in response to public concern about tracking people .Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Internet challenges to privacy contd.

Internet Rights: Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age ‡ Technical solution: ± New technologies available to protect user privacy during interactions with websites ‡ Encrypting email ‡ Making email and surfing anonymous ‡ Preventing client computer from accepting cookies ± P3P: Platform for Privacy Preferences ‡ Enables automatic communication of privacy policies between an e-commerce site and its visitors .

Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ What is intellectual property? ± An intangible property created by individuals or corporations ‡ Computerized information can easily be copied or distributed on networks. challenging the existing protection given to property rights ± Categories of protection: ‡ Trade secrets ‡ Copyright ‡ Patent law .

device. pattern or compilation of data ± used for a business purpose can be classified as a trade secret. provided it is not based on information in the public domain ± Trade secrets grant a monopoly on the ideas behind a work product ± Software that contains novel or unique elements or procedures ‡ Hard to prevent the ideas from falling into the public domain when the software is widely distributed .Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ Trade secrets: ± Any intellectual work product ± a formula.

artwork of any kind and motion pictures ‡ Intention: encouraging creativity by ensuing that creative people receive the financial and other benefits for their work. ‡ Copyright protection extended to books. musical compositions. dramas. drawings. maps.Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ Copyright: ± A statutory grant that protects creators of intellectual property from having their work copied by others for any purpose during the life of the author plus an additional 70 years after the author¶s death. . lectures. periodicals.

: ± Computer Software copyright Act provides protection for software program code and for copies of the original sold in commerce ‡ Drawback: underling ideas behind a work are not protected.Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ Copyright contd. functions. . ± A competitor can understand how your software works and build new software that follows the same concepts without infringing on a copyright. general functional features and colors are not protected by law. ± Similar concepts.

devices or methods receive the full financial benefits for their work ‡ Make widespread use of the invention possible by providing detailed diagrams to those wishing to use the idea under license from the patents owner. ‡ Intention: to ensure that inventors of new machines. and novelty. .Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ Patents: ± Grants the owner an exclusive monopoly on the ideas behind an invention for 20 years. originality. ± Advantage: grants monopoly on the underlying concept ‡ Difficult to pass the stringent criteria of non-obviousness.

. transmission. creating some hurdles to distribution.Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ Challenges to Intellectual Property Rights: ± Digital media differ from books. representing $48 billion in global losses due to software piracy. periodicals etc in terms of ease of replication. books. copies of software. had to be stored on physical media. alteration ± Before widespread use of networks. films etc. ± 38% of the software installed in 2007 was obtained illegally.

Property Rights: Intellectual Property ‡ Challenges contd.: ± World wide web enables copying and distributing even if users are using different computer systems. ± Efforts to counteract piracy: ‡ Digital Millennium Copyright Act: ISP¶s are required to take down sites of copyright infringers once they are notified of the problem. ‡ Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA): lobbies for new laws and enforcement of existing laws to protect intellectual property around the world. ± Illegal copying and sharing of mp3 music files through file sharing services. .

Accountability. Liability and Control ‡ New information technology challenging the existing liability law ± Person injured by a machine controlled by software ± Offensive material on public bulletin boards ± Example: Bank of America .

books describe it .Accountability. and the machine injures someone physically or economically. Liability and Control ‡ Computer Related Liability Problems: ± If a computer software is part of a machine. the producer of the software and the operator can be held liable for the damages ± Difficult to hold software producers liable for their software if it is like a book ‡ Software claims to perform a task.

technologically feasible level of system quality? ± Individuals and organizations may be held responsible for foreseeable consequences.System Quality: Data Quality and System Errors ‡ What is an acceptable. for which they have a duty to perceive and correct ± Gray areas? ‡ Shipping faulty software to the market .

System Quality: Data Quality and System Errors ‡ Principle sources of poor system performance: ± Software bugs and errors ± Hardware or facility failures ± Poor input data quality ‡ No testing standards for producing software that may be acceptable .

Access and Boundaries ‡ Mounting negative social costs of technology ± Destroying valuable elements of our culture and society ± Who is responsible for the bad consequences while these systems are generating good consequences at the same time? .Quality of Life: Equity.

together with the empowerment of thousands of workers has reduced this fear. .Quality of Life: Equity. Access and Boundaries ‡ Balancing power: Center vs. centralized mainframe computes would centralize power at corporate headquarters => Big Brother society ± Shift towards decentralized computing. Periphery ± Huge.

government etc. Access and Boundaries ‡ Rapidity to change: Reduced response time to competition ± Time based competition: if your business does not respond to global competitors in a timely manner. ‡ Dependence and Vulnerability: ± Businesses.Quality of Life: Equity. highly vulnerable if information systems fail ± No national standards and regulatory bodies for ensuring system standards . it may be wiped out.

Quality of Life: Equity. work and leisure: ± Traditional boundaries that separate work from family and just plain leisure are weakening ± Work umbrella extends beyond the 8-hours a day ± Extensive internet use (even for entertainment or recreational purposes) ± Weakening support of family and friends in an individuals life . Access and Boundaries ‡ Maintaining boundaries: family.

e.Quality of Life: Equity. Access and Boundaries ‡ Computer Crime and Abuse: ± Computer crime is the commission of illegal acts through the use of computer or against a computer system ± Computer systems can be the object of crime as well as the instrument of crime ± Computer abuse is the commission of acts involving a computer that may not be illegal but that are considered unethical. spamming ‡ What is spamming? .g.

computers is inequitably distributed along social and ethnic class lines ± Digital divide .Quality of Life: Equity. knowledge. ± Access to information. Access and Boundaries ‡ Equity and Access: increasing racial and social class cleavages: ± Impact of technology can vary from one social class to the other.

Access and Boundaries ‡ Health Risks ± Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI): muscle groups are forced through repetitive actions of low impact load ‡ Largest source of RSI: computer keyboards ‡ Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ± Computer Vision Syndrome: any eyestrain condition related to computer display screen use.Quality of Life: Equity. ‡ Headache. blurred vision. dry and irritated eyes .

impatience and fatigue . hostility towards humans.Quality of Life: Equity.: ± Techno-stress: stress induced by computer use ‡ Aggravation. Access and Boundaries ‡ Health issues contd.

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