Consequently, developments in information systems also involve social and political relationships– and so make ethical considerations in how information is used all the more important. Electronic systems now reach into all levels of government, into the workplace, and into private lives to such an extent that even people without access to these systems are affected in significant ways by them. New ethical and legal decisions are necessary to balance the needs and rights of everyone.
As in other new technological arenas, legal decisions lag behind technical placements. Ethics fill the gap as people negotiate how use of electronic information should proceed. The following notes define the broad ethical issues now being negotiated. Since laws deciding some aspects of these issues have been made, these notes should be read in conjunction with Legal Issues in Electronic Information Systems. Definition of Ethics After looking up several online and offline dictionary, we found more than one definition of ethics.
Information technology and information systems raise new ethical questions for both individuals and societies because they create opportunities for intense social change, and thus threaten existing distributions of power, money, rights, and obligations. Like other technologies, such as steam engines, electricity, telephone, and radio, information technology can be used to achieve social progress, but it can also be used to commit crimes and threaten cherished social values. The development of information technology will produce benefits for many and costs for other.
Systems quality: What standards of data and system quality should we demand to protect individual rights and the safety Of society? . Accountability and control: Who can and will be held accountable and liable for the harm done to individual and collective information and property rights? 4. Information rights and obligations: what information rights do individuals and organizations possess with respect to information about themselves? What can they protect? What obligations do individuals and organizations have concerning this information? 5. Quality of life: What valves should be preserved in an information and knowledge based society?
As a result, our dependence on systems and our vulnerability to system errors and poor data quality have increased. Social rules and laws have not yet adjusted to this dependence. Standards for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of information systems are not universally accepted or enforced. Advance in data storage techniques and rapidly declining storage costs have been responsible for the multiplying databases on individuals-employees, customers and potential customers-maintained by private and public organizations.
These advances in data storage have made the routine location of individual privacy both cheap and effective. Already massive data storage systems are cheap enough for regional and even local retailing firm to use in identifying customers. Advance in dynamiting techniques for large databases are a third technological trend that heightens ethical concerns, because they enable companies to find out much detailed personal information about individuals.
With contemporary information systems technology, companies can assemble and combine the myriad pieces of information stored on you by computer much more easily then in the past. Think of all the ways you enervate computer information about yourself-credit card purchases, telephone calls, magazine subscriptions, video rentals, mail-order purchases, banking records and local, state, and federal government records (Including court and police records). UT together and mined properly, this information could reveal not only your credit information but also your driving habits, your tastes, you r associations, and your political interests. Last advances in networking including the internet, promise to reduce greatly the cost of moving and accessing large quantities of data, and open the usability of mining large pools of data remotely using small desktop machines, permitting an invasion of privacy on a scales and precision heretofore unimaginable.
CANDIDATE ETHICAL PRINCIPLES Although you are the only one who can decide which among many ethical principles you will follow, and how you will prioritize them, it is helpful to consider some ethical principles with deep roots in many cultures that have survived throughout recorded history. 1 . Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (the Golden Rule). Putting yourself into the place of others, and thinking of yourself as the object f the decision, can help you think about “fairness” in decision making. 2.
If an action is not right for everyone to take, then it is not right for anyone (Emmanuel Cant’s Categorical Imperative). Ask yourself, “If everyone did this, could the organization, or society, survive? ” 3. If an action cannot be taken repeatedly, then it is not right to take at all (Descartes’ rule of change). This is the slippery-slope rule: An action may bring about a small change now that is acceptable, but if repeated it would bring unacceptable changes in the long run. In the vernacular, it might be stated as once started down a slippery path you may not be able to stop. 4. Take the action that achieves the higher or greater value (Utilitarian Principle). This rule assumes you can prioritize values in a rank order and understand the consequences of various courses of action. 5. Take the action that produces the least harm or the least potential cost (Risk Aversion Principle). Some actions have extremely high failure costs of very low probability (e. G. Building a nuclear generating facility in an urban area) or extremely high failure costs of moderate probability (speeding and automobile accidents).