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Review questions

  1. 1. Review Questions1. In what ways are ethical, social, and political issues connected? Give some examples.Ethics refers to principles of right and wrong which individuals use to guide theirbehavior. Individuals act within a social environment that, in turn, exists within apolitical environment. Ethical dilemmas are problems that affect society and that oftenare addressed in the political arena. For example, new computer technology makes iteasier to gain private information about individuals, creating an ethical dilemma for thepotential user of that information (whether or not to invade the privacy of theindividual). Society will respond by demanding new laws to regulate the use of data.Students will be able to give a range of examples of this connection.2. What are the key technology trends that heighten ethical concerns?Table 5-1 identifies the four key technology trends. These trends include computerpower doubling every 18 months, rapid decline in data storage costs, data analysisadvances, and networking advances and the Internet.The doubling of computing power every 18 months is creating a growing dependenceon systems and a consequent vulnerability to system errors, poor data quality, andfailure of critical systems. Advances in data storage techniques and rapidly decliningstorage costs provide for massive data storage capabilities on individual systems andenable the routine violation of individual privacy. Advances in datamining techniquesfor large databases allow those who are able to dominate supercomputing capacity(large businesses and governments) to increase their power over individuals through theanalysis of massive amounts of data about individuals. Advances in telecommunicationsinfrastructure allow the movement of massive amounts of data at greatly reduced cost,permitting the use of data and, as a result, the invasion of privacy on a scale andprecision unimaginable to us now.3. What are the differences between responsibility, accountability, and liability?Responsibility means that you accept the potential costs, duties, and obligations for thedecisions you make. Accountability is a feature of systems and social institutions thatallows the determination of who is responsible. Liability is a feature of political systemsthat permits individuals to recover damages done to them by responsible individuals ororganizations.4. What are the five steps in an ethical analysis?The five steps in an ethical analysis are outlined in the Managers Toolkit. The fivesteps include (1) identify and describe clearly the facts; (2) define the conflict ordilemma and identify the higher order values involved; (3) identify the stakeholders; (4)identify the options you can reasonably take, and (5) identify the potential consequencesof your options.5. Identify and describe six ethical principles.
  2. 2. The six ethical principles include the golden rule, Immanuel Kants CategoricalImperative, Descartes rule of change, Utilitarian Principle, Risk Aversion Principle, andethical "no free lunch" rule. The golden rule suggests doing unto others as you wouldhave them do unto you. Kants Categorical Imperative suggests that if an action is notright for everyone to take, then it is not right for anyone. Descartes rule of change, alsoknown as the slippery slope rule, suggests that if an action cannot be taken repeatedly,then it is not right to be taken at any time. The Utilitarian Principle suggests taking theaction that achieves the higher or greater value. The Risk Aversion Principle suggeststaking the action that produces the least harm or the least potential cost. The ethical "nofree lunch" rule says that virtually all tangible and intangible objects are owned bysomeone unless there is a specific declaration otherwise.6. What is a professional code of conduct?When groups of people claim to be professionals, they take on special rights andobligations. As professionals, they enter into even more constraining relationships withemployers, customers, and society because of the special claims to knowledge, wisdom,and respect. Professional codes of conduct are promulgated by associations ofprofessionals in order to regulate entrance qualifications and competencies and toestablish codes of ethics.7. What are meant by "privacy" and "fair information practices”?Privacy is the claim that individuals have the right to be left alone, free fromsurveillance or interference from other individuals or organizations, including the state.Claims to privacy involve the workplace as well as the home. Information technologythreatens individual claims to privacy by making the invasion of privacy cheap,profitable, and effective.The fair information practices (FIP) is a set of principles governing the collection anduse of information about individuals. The five FIP principles are: (1) notice/awareness;(2) choice/consent; (3) access/participation; (4) security; and (5) enforcement.8. How is the Internet challenging the protection of individual privacy?Cookies, Web bugs, and other means of collecting information about Internet users canbe shared without the Internet users consent. This allows information that a user mayhave given voluntarily for a good purpose, say logging into the New York Times site, tobe shared with some other site. Spamming or e-mail that uses a user’s e-mail address isanother invasion of privacy.9. What role can informed consent, legislation, industry self-regulation, and technologytools play in protecting individual privacy of Internet users?Informed consent means that the Web site visitor knowingly permits the collection ofdata about his/her and his/her visit to the companys Web site. Federal privacy laws helpregulate the collection, usage, and disclosure of information in the United States. Table5-2 lists several of the federal privacy laws in the United States. Businesses have taken
  3. 3. some steps, including publishing statements about how their information will be usedand sometimes offering an opt-out right. However, few businesses offer an opt-inapproach. Several technology tools are available to combat privacy invasion. Technicalsolutions enable e-mail encryption, anonymous e-mailing and surfing, and cookierejection. Table 5-4 lists several privacy tools. Of particular interest is the P3P standardthat allows the user to have more control over personal information that is gathered onthe Web sites that she visits.10. What are the three different regimes that protect intellectual property rights? Whatchallenges to intellectual property rights are posed by the Internet?Three different legal traditions that protect property rights are trade secret, copyright,and patent. A trade secret is any intellectual work product used for a business purposethat can be classified as belonging to that business, provided it is not based oninformation in the public domain. The drawback to trade secret protection is that oncean idea falls into the public domain, it no longer can be protected as a trade secret. Acopyright is a statutory grant that protects creators of intellectual property againstcopying by others for any purpose for a period of 28 years. (For work created on or afterJanuary 1, 1978, the intellectual property is protected during the authors lifetime plus70 years after his death.) The drawback of this protection is that underlying ideas arenot protected, only their manifestations in a work. A patent grants the owner amonopoly on the ideas behind an invention for 20 years. While patent protection doesgrant a monopoly on the underlying concepts and ideas, the difficulty is passingstringent criteria of non-obviousness, originality, and novelty. The Internet makes itvery easy to widely distribute and reproduce intellectual property.11. Why is it so difficult to hold software services liable for failure or injury?It is very difficult, if not impossible, to hold software producers liable for their softwareproducts because it is only when software acts as a part of a defective product that strictliability pertains. If the software is strictly a service (not part of a product), these lawsdo not apply. As part of a product, software is still considered to be like books, whichhistorically are protected from liability claims by the First Amendment guaranteeingfreedom of expression.12. What is the most common cause of system quality problems?The three principal sources of system quality problems are hardware and facilityfailures, software bugs and errors, and data quality. However, the most common causeof system quality problems is data quality. According to the 1998 Redman study citedin the textbook, individual organizations report data error rates ranging from 0.5 to 30percent.13. Name and describe four "quality of life" impacts of computers and informationsystems.The textbook describes eight "quality of life" impacts of computers and informationsystems. These include balancing power, rapidity of change, maintaining boundaries,
  4. 4. dependency and vulnerability, computer crime and abuse, employment, equity andaccess, and health risks.Balancing power describes the shift toward highly decentralized computing, coupledwith an ideology of "empowerment" of thousands of workers and decentralization ofdecision making to lower organizational levels. The problem is that the lower-levelworker involvement in decision making tends to be trivial. Key policy decisions are ascentralized as in the past.The rapidity of change impact suggests that information systems have increased theefficiency of the global marketplace. As a result, businesses no longer have many yearsto adjust to competition. Businesses can now be wiped out very rapidly, and along withthem, jobs.The maintaining boundaries impact suggests that portable computers andtelecommuting have created the condition where people can take their work anywherewith them and do it at any time. As a result, workers find that their work is cutting intofamily time, vacations, and leisure, weakening the traditional institutions of family andfriends and blurring the line between public and private life.The dependency and vulnerability impact suggests that businesses, governments,schools, and private associations are becoming more and more dependent oninformation systems, and so they are highly vulnerable to the failure of those systems.The computer crime and abuse impact suggests that computers have created newopportunities for committing crimes and have themselves become the target of crimes.The employment impact suggests that redesigning business processes could potentiallycause millions of middle-level managers and clerical workers to lose their jobs. Worse,if reengineering actually works as claimed, these workers will not find similaremployment because the demand for their skills will decline.The equity and access impact suggests that access to computer and informationresources is not equitably distributed throughout society. Access is distributedinequitably along racial, economic, and social class lines (as are many other informationresources). Poor children attending poor school districts are less likely to use computersat school. Children from wealthy homes are five times more likely to use PCs forschoolwork than poor children. Whites are three times more likely to use computers athome for schoolwork than African-Americans. Potentially, we could create a society ofinformation haves and have-nots, further increasing the social cleavages in our society.Health risks have been attributed to computers and information technologies. Forinstance, business now spends $20 billion a year to compensate and treat victims ofcomputer-related occupational diseases. Those illnesses include RSI (repetitive stressinjury), CVS (computer vision syndrome), and technostress.14. What is technostress, and how would you identify it?
  5. 5. Technostress is defined as stress induced by computer-use. Its symptoms areaggravation, hostility towards humans, impatience, and enervation.15. Name three management actions that could reduce RSI.Management can reduce RSI (repetitive stress injury) by using workstations (mainlykeyboards) designed for a neutral wrist position (using a wrist rest to support the wrist).Use of proper monitor stands and footrests will contribute to proper posture and soreduce RSI, as will allowing (or requiring) employees to take frequent breaks from theirwork to walk around. Finally, use of new, ergonomically designed keyboards will alsohelp.Case Study – The FBI and Digital Surveillance: How Far Should It Go? 1. DoesCarnivore present an ethical dilemma? Explain your answer. Students can answer thisquestion in many ways. Key to their responses, however, is that they respond by usingan ethical approach. What is the correct moral choice? The other element students mustdeal with is who is making the choice? Does the FBI staff responsible for using it havean ethical choice? What about those who are responsible for the decisions of the ISP, dothey have an ethical dilemma? Or do some of them want to deal with the possibility ofthe congresspersons that have to make decisions about it? Or even the writers who writeabout ethical and social issues in a digital firm? The best way for students to analyzethis issue is to apply the five-step ethical analysis approach to this situation. Yourstudents also need to examine the candidates for ethical principles. This question shouldlead to an interesting discussion, partly because the dilemma is very real, particularly inthis post-September 11 period. 2. Apply an ethical analysis to the issue of the FBI’s useof information technology and U.S. citizens’ privacy rights. Notice that this question isbroader than the first question because this asks about the use of information technologywhereas Question 1 limits the issue to Carnivore. No matter where individual studentsstand on the issue of Carnivore, it is difficult to come to a clear stance on the broaderissue of information technology. However, the question is limited to the uses by theFBI. Begin the discussion by asking the students about the different ways the FBI usesinformation technology. For each use, have your students determine whether or not itcan affect the privacy rights of citizens. For example, the FBI can use informationtechnology for storing the DNA of individuals. Is this a problem for citizens’ privacyrights? 3. What are the ethical, social and political issues raised by the FBI tapping thee-mails of individuals and collecting personal data on them?As with most ethical issues, student views will vary widely. Your task is to make surethe differing views are raised and discussed because these issues are complex and affectthe future and type of government we live under, whichever country we live in. And,again in the case of Carnivore, does it fall under these issues given the fact that the FBIwants control of the information technology that can be misused? Are there alternativeways of accomplishing the goals? This can be a very lively, engaging and thought-provoking discussion.The ethical privacy issue examines the conditions under which someone should invadethe privacy of others; what legitimates intruding into others’ lives through unobtrusive
  6. 6. surveillance or other means; do we have to inform people that we are eavesdropping;and do we have to inform people that we are using credit history information foremployment screening purposes? These are critical issues, but these are directed atmore standard telephone tapping, and Carnivore has another issue — the use ofCarnivore to obtain information not covered by the court order, whether it is about otherpeople or about the person covered by the court order.As the text says, the social issue of privacy concerns the development of “expectationsof privacy” or privacy norms and public attitudes. Do we (the society) encourage peopleto expect “private territory” when using modern technology, including e-mail? Shouldexpectations of privacy be extended to criminal conspirators, and if not, how do weknow if they are criminal conspirators, and if so how do we solve crimes?The political area really covers the issue of lawmaking. Should the FBI be allowed toeavesdrop on e-mails of criminal suspects? If so, how do we prevent the FBI frommisusing that power?4.How effective is Carnivore as a terrorism and crime-prevention tool?The answers should be relatively clear. Those who are amateurs at electroniccommunication can probably be caught if they use e-mail for criminal (includingterrorist) reasons. However the case study shows that alternative ways ofcommunicating messages, including e-mail, exist and are probably being used bycriminals.5. State your views on ways to solve the problems of collecting the key data the FBI cangain through Carnivore without interfering with the privacy of people not related to thecrime involved.The case study offers at least one alternative — the control of Carnivore-type softwareby the ISPs, although this can still be misused by the ISP. Encourage your students tocome up with thoughtful, creative ideas. The alternative ways that the students suggestmust be examined carefully to see if they are actually possible, and if they can bemisused. Again, students will struggle with the difficult issues of solving privacyproblems, and come to understand that agreement on these issues is difficult, if notimpossible, leading to a discussion of majority and minority in a democratic society.