Ethical issues in Information Technology
volume: 1 double spaced sources: 3 Type: Essay Style: MLA Introduction
Information technology is the here to stay. Technology has permeated almost every aspect of the 21st century life. Whether it is for work, studies, or entertainment the application of technology cannot be ignored. With the use of this technology the line between what is right and wrong can sometimes be blurred. Therefore, this prompts workplaces, schools and industries to formulate some rules and regulation that should be applied in the use of technology. The use of technology places responsibility on the individual because of issues of privacy and security of information. More and more information is transacted and stored in computers which should be safeguarded by IT professionals. Ethics is concerned with the ways things should be done. In fact the Greek word “Ethika” means character. Therefore, profession ethics in information technology is essential and should be taken seriously. The ethical issues in IT affect both ICT users and professionals. This paper seeks to identify ethical issues in information technology in different sectors of the industry.
Ethical issues in information technology
Ethical issues in information technology are not as straight forwards and at times may appear to be right on the surface. Technology has led to the expansion of the labor and companies can hire people overseas without requiring them to travel into the country. While this is something that should be appreciated as the right-thing-to-do, offshoring IT jobs at lower wages comes with different ethical implications. Large corporations save a lot of money from offshoring jobs to maximize their profits (Schutlz, 2005). The offshore workers are paid better, sometimes untaxed, salaries compared to other employees domestically employed to do the same work. In the process, the citizens of countries offshoring IT work deny employment opportunities for the domestic (Ante, 2004). If the skillset of the workers in both countries are the same, corporations will still choose the cheaper alternative. The self-interest of the parties concerned is what breeds different ethical issues. This is more than an ethical issues, it becomes an issue of justice. Whereas proponents of offshoring appreciate and affirm that free trade is working, the opponents argue that it is unjust.
IT professional are obligated to fulfill their duties as assigned by the organization. When these professionally assigned duties are contravened then ethical issues arise. IT officers are expected to fulfill all their obligations to the best of their ability. If the duties are not conclusively performed then ethical issues arise. The issues may involve the relationship between the IT professionals and IT users. The preservation of the integrity of data of the organization is the responsibility of the IT experts. In case the data integrity is breached it would be in the purview of those responsible to deal with such issues. However, conflict between the users of ICT, the IT experts and the management is common in precipitating ethical issues. It is given that professionals are expected to foresee all the ethical issues and find ways of addressing them according to their professional training and in line with the organizational rules and regulations (Applegate, Austin & McFarlan, 2007). Additionally, it is possible for the professional to take advantage of the ignorance of users in contravening ethically set out expectations. However, users should also ensure that they don’t overstep in their responsibilities thus affecting the professional functions of the ICT experts. Therefore, ethical issues arise in connection with partial compliance of either IT professionals or IT users with their job description responsibilities.
Privacy and security is critical in the present IT environment. These two aspects are connected because security is required to maintain the privacy of information in an interconnected system. Therefore, both security and privacy should be addressed as an ethical issue in the organization. It is ethical for any organization to ensure that the privacy of the employee is provided for within certain limits. Privacy allows individual to keep some parts of their lives private, especially things that are not necessarily connected with their employment. However, when it comes to the use of IT the perception of privacy is different. It is clear that it is the duty of IT professionals to protect the privacy of the users. Privacy in this case is used interchangeably with confidentiality. However, this perception is different from one organization to the other. Privacy is limited to individuals and not businesses or corporation. It is individuals who use IT to exchange and share personal information on ICT platforms (Schultz, 2005). IT professionals have a responsibility that comes with the profession that has nothing to do with the users and the management. Although security malfunction may occur because of the applications or software problems. Nevertheless, it is expected that professionals should set up and test system for integrity and assurance of privacy. The IT experts also maintain the systems that ensure privacy. The failure of the experts to perform their responsibility may raise ethical issues.
Finally, piracy and copyrights aspects in ICT are often the source of ethical issues. Technology has increased reproduction of content as well as the sharing of this content on different online platforms. Copyrights have been violated by the online system that allows non-profit player to provide content to users without the consent of the users. Initially, movie and music producers were engaged in legal battles with consumer on the illegality of copying content, they realized that piracy was actually a form of promotion. However, piracy has been a bone of contention as some people argue that some channels have the license to produce mediocre music. Although copyrights and piracy are understandable from the IT perspective the ethical underpinning are controversial. For instance, it is hard to determine the copying and exchange of videos and movies among friends which is acceptable and considered ethical should be considered a violation of copyright. A copyright gives the producer of a particular content the exclusive rights to reproduces and reap the benefits of their work. However, Lewis (2001) argues that this changed when the Supreme courts distorted this definition to mean that copyrights should be used to encourage other to build on some original content in a given field. Therefore, the ethics of copyrights are not conclusive. Corporations and big businesses have used the copyright to continue making profits from certain ideas almost indefinitely. The balancing of the extent of copyrights violations has not been clearly established.
Ethical issues in information technology are almost infinites because of the prevalence of technology in almost every aspects life. The IT professionals at times may find it difficult to determine where they should draw the ethical line. Some of the few areas includes the role of IT users and professional with respect to the fulfillment of their duties at work. Offshore hiring of IT worker some work that can be done locally is deemed selfish since most of the corporations that outsource are search for cheap labor and denying their own economy employment opportunity. Issues of privacy and security are also difficult to define. Whereas privacy is considered to be one of the fundamental human rights, in falls upon the IT experts to design and test systems that will ensure the security of private information. Finally, piracy and copyright issues are some of the most current ethical issues in information technology. What should be considered to be copyrights violation? Is it the copying of information for profit purposes or simply sharing some content with friends? The dilemma in the answers to these questions is that ethical issues in ICT are numerous and will continue to increase.
Ante, S. E. (2004). Shifting work offshore? Outsourcer beware; quality and security woes can eat expected savings. Business Week, (3865), 36-36.
Applegate, L. M., Austin, R. D., McFarlan, F. W., & Applegate, L. M. (2007). Corporate information strategy and management: text and cases. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Lewis, M. B. (2001). Music length protection. Retrieved March, 1, 2007.
Schultz, R. A. (Ed.). (2005). Contemporary issues in ethics and information technology. IGI Global.
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