Amanda Rosa Blanca R. Arevalo
Ethics deals with placing a “value” on acts according to whether they are “good” or “bad”. Every
society has its rules about whether certain acts are ethical or not. These rules have been established as a
result of consensus in society and are often written into laws.
When computers first began to be used in society at large, the absence of ethical standards
about their use and related issues caused some problems. However, as their use became widespread in
every facet of our lives, discussions in computer ethics resulted in some kind of a consensus. Today,
many of these rules have been formulated as laws, either national or international. Computer
crimes and computer fraud are now common terms. There are laws against them, and everyone is
responsible for knowing what constitutes computer crime and computer fraud.
Computer Ethics is a branch of practical philosophy that deals with how
computing professionals should make decisions regarding professional and
social conduct. Margaret Anne Pierce, a professor in the Department of
Mathematics and Computers at Georgia Southern University has categorized the
ethical decisions related to computer technology and usage into three primary
1. The individual's own personal code.
2. Any informal code of ethical behavior that exists in the work place.
3. Exposure to formal codes of ethics.[
BRIEF HISTORY OF COMPUTER ETHICS
The concept of computer ethics originated in 1950 when Norbert Wiener, an MIT
professor and inventor of an information feedback system called "cybernetics", published a
book called "The Human Use of Human Beings". This laid out the basic foundations of computer
ethics and made Norbert Wiener the father of computer ethics.
Later on, in 1966 another MIT professor by the name of Joseph Weizenbaum published
a simple program called ELIZA that functioned like a psychotherapist where the program only
used open ended questions to encourage patients to respond. The program would apply pattern
matching pattern rules to human statements to figure out its reply.
A bit later during the same year the world's first computer crime was committed. A
programmer was able to use a bit of computer code to stop his banking account from being
flagged as overdrawn. However, there were no laws in place at that time to stop him, and as a
result he was not charged. To make sure another person did not follow suit, an ethics code for
computers was needed.
Sometime further into the 1960s Donn Parker, who was an
author on computer crimes, led to the development of the first
code of ethics in the field of computer technology. In 1970, a
medical teacher and researcher, by the name of Walter Manner
noticed that ethical decisions are much harder to make when
computers are added. He noticed a need for a different branch of
ethics for when it came to dealing with computers. The term
"Computer ethics" was thus invented.
During the same year, the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) decided to adopt
a professional code of ethics due to which, by the middle of the 1970s new privacy and
computer crime laws had been put in place in United States as well as Europe.
In the year 1976 Joseph Weizenbaum made his second significant addition to the field of
computer ethics. He published a book titled "Computer power and Human reason" which talked
about how artificial intelligence is good for the world; however it should never be allowed to
make the most important decisions as it does not have human qualities such as wisdom. By far
the most important point he makes in the book is the distinction between choosing and
deciding. He argued that deciding is a computational activity while making choices is not and
thus the ability to make choices is what makes us humans.
In 1985, James Moor, Professor of Philosophy at DartMouth College in New Hampshire,
published an essay called "What is Computer Ethics". In this essay Moor states the computer
ethics includes the following:
1. identification of computer-generated policy vacuums,
2. clarification of conceptual muddles,
3. formulation of policies for the use of computer technology, and
4. ethical justification of such policies.
During the same year, Deborah Johnson, Professor of Applied Ethics and Chair of the
Department of Science, Technology, and Society in the School of Engineering and Applied
Sciences of the University of Virginia, got the first major computer ethics textbook published. It
didn't just become the standard setting textbook for computer ethics, but also set up the
research agenda for the next 10 years.
In 1988, a librarian at St. Cloud University by the name of Robert Hauptman, came up
with "information ethics", a term that was used to describe the storage, production, access and
dissemination of information. Near the same time, the Computer Matching and Privacy Act was
adopted and this act restricted the government to programs and identifying debtors.
The 1990s was the time when computers were reaching their pinnacle and the
combination of computers with telecommunication, the internet, and other media meant that
many new ethical issues were raised.
In the year 1992, ACM adopted a new set of ethical rules called "ACM code of Ethics and
Professional Conduct" which consisted of 24 statements of personal responsibility. Three years
later in 1995, Gorniak Kocikowska, a Professor of Philosophy at Southern Connecticut State
University, Coordinator of the Religious Studies Program, as well as a Senior Research Associate
in the Research Center on Computing and Society, came up with the idea that computer ethics
will eventually become a global ethical system and soon after, computer ethics would replace
ethics altogether as it would become the standard ethics of the information age.
In 1999, Deborah Johnson revealed her view, which was quite contrary to Kocikowska's
belief, and stated that computer ethics will not evolve but rather be our old ethics with a slight
TEN COMMANDMENTS OF COMPUTER ETHICS
The Ten Commandments of computer ethics have been defined by the Computer Ethics
Institute and consists of the following :
1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
If it is unethical to harm people by making a bomb, for example, it is
equally bad to write a program that handles the timing of the bomb. If it
is bad to steal and destroy other people’s books and notebooks, it is
equally bad to access and destroy their files.
2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
Computer viruses are small programs that disrupt other people’s
computer work by destroying their files, taking huge amounts of
computer time or memory, or by simply displaying annoying messages.
Generating and consciously spreading computer viruses is unethical.
3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's files.
Reading other people’s e-mail messages is as bad as opening and
reading their letters. This is invading their privacy. Obtaining other
people’s non-public files should be judged the same way as breaking
into their rooms and stealing their documents. Text documents on the
Internet may be protected by encryption.
4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
Using a computer to break into the accounts of a company or a bank
and transferring money should be judged the same way as robbery. It is
illegal and there are strict laws against it.
5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
The Internet, particularly social networking sites such as facebook and
twitter, can spread untruth as fast as it can spread truth. Putting out
false "information" to the world is bad. For instance, spreading false
rumors about a person or false propaganda about historical events is
Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid.
Software is an intellectual product. In that way, it is like a book.
Obtaining illegal copies of copyrighted software is as bad as
photocopying a copyrighted book. There are laws against both.
Information about the copyright owner can be embedded by a process
called watermarking into pictures in the digital format.
7. Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without
Multiuser systems use user id’s and passwords to enforce their memory
and time allocations, and to safeguard information. You should not try
to bypass this authorization system. Hacking a system to break and
bypass the authorization is unethical.
8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
For example, the programs you write for the projects assigned in this
course are your own intellectual output. Copying somebody else’s
program without proper authorization is software piracy and is
unethical. Intellectual property is a form of ownership, and may be
protected by copyright laws.
Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write.
You have to think about computer issues in a more general social
framework. Can the program you write be used in a way that is harmful
to society? For example, if you are working for an animation house, and
are producing animated films for children, you are responsible for their
contents. Do the animations include scenes that can be harmful to
10. Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration and
Just like public buses or banks, people using computer communications
systems may find themselves in situations where there is some form of
queuing and you have to wait for your turn and generally be nice to
other people in the environment. The fact that you cannot see the
people you are interacting with does not mean that you can be rude to
ETHICS OF PRIVACY
Privacy can be defined as an individual condition of life characterized by
exclusion from publicity. The concept follows from the right to be left
alone. Such a perception of privacy set the course for passing of privacy
laws in some countries. As such, privacy could be regarded as a natural
right which provides the foundation for the legal right. The right to
privacy is therefore protected under private law.
The legal right to privacy is constitutionally protected in most
democratic societies. This constitutional right is expressed in a variety of
legislative forms. In the Philippines, the right to privacy is provided
under the Constitution.
Privacy is an important right because it is a necessary condition
for other rights such as freedom and personal autonomy. There is thus a relationship between privacy,
freedom and human dignity. Respecting a person's privacy is to acknowledge such a person's right to
freedom and to recognize that individual as an autonomous human being.
The duty to respect a person's privacy is furthermore a prima facie duty. In other words, it is not
an absolute duty that does not allow for exceptions. For example, the police may violate a criminal's
privacy by spying or by seizing personal documents. The right to privacy, as an expression of individual
freedom, is thus confined by social responsibility.
DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PRIVATE INFORMATION
Private communications. This category of privacy concerns all forms of personal
communication which a person wishes to keep private. The information exchanged
during a reference interview between the user and the information professional can be
seen as an example.
Privacy of the body. This normally refers to medical information and enjoys separate
legal protection. A person has the right to be informed about the nature of an illness as
well as the implications thereof. Such a person further has the right to privacy about the
nature of the illness and cannot be forced to make it known to others. The only
exception is when the health, and possibly the lives of others may be endangered by the
specific illness - such as the case may be where a person is HIV positive and the chance
exists that other people may contract the virus.3 This category of information is of
specific importance for an information professional working in a medical library.
Personal information. Personal information refers to those categories of information
which refer to only that specific person, for example bibliographic (name, address) and
financial information. This type of information is of relevance to all categories of
Information about one's possessions. This information is closely related to property
right. According to this a person does have control over the information which relates to
personal possessions in certain instances. For example, a person may keep private the
information about the place where a wallet is kept.
REASONS TO RESPECT OTHER’S PRIVACY
We all have private spaces, thoughts, and words that are ours alone, and the ethics
of privacy demand that others respect those rights. Of course, we need to expect their
rights, too. While there are many laws in place to ensure that people's secrets remain
secret, there are also strong ethical arguments in favor of respecting others' right to privacy:
Invading others' privacy is deviant.
There are, undisputably, people who enjoy looking into other peoples'
lives. Why do they enjoy it? There are several reasons and they are all
deviant. Why might someone look into someone else's private spaces,
their home, car, locker,etc.? The obvious answers are perversions,
criminal intentions, and general creepiness. The same goes for prying
into others' private thoughts and words, such as diaries and personal
papers. The ethics of privacy require us to put others' rights above any
deviant desires we might have.
Invading others' privacy is disrespectful.
Even if you are not some sort of deviant, prying into another person's
private spaces, thoughts, and words is disrespectful. When you violate
another's privacy, you implicitly state that that person's right to secrecy
is not important. Essentially, you assert that that person him/herself is
less of a person, or less worthy of respect than you are. Beyond being
disrespectful, that assertion is just plain wrong. We are all human beings
entitled to hold our own opinions and think our own thoughts. If we
choose to keep those thoughts to ourselves, then we probably have
pretty good reasons for doing so. The safest and most ethical approach
is to assume that others have reasons for keeping the secrets they keep.
Respect other people by respecting their private spaces.
Invading others' privacy launches us down a very slippery slope.
In discussing the ethics of privacy, people often make "slippery slope"
arguments, especially about the government. For example, someone
might argue that if police are now permitted to do warrantless plain
sight inspections of private areas (like the interior of a car), it is only a
matter of time until they will be able to search closed containers
without a warrant. The idea is that giving an inch of privacy territory will
surely lead to further encroachments. If you as an individual take
liberties with other people's privacy, you are contributing to a change in
societal attitudes about privacy. While hacking into someone's e-mail
account might seem like a harmless prank to you now, by doing so you
are contributing to a societal attitude that electronic privacy is
unimportant, and sooner or later societal attitudes might slide to the
point where you become very uncomfortable with the lack of respect
for your own private spaces, thoughts, and words.
Privacy is a difficult issue. There are certainly times when law enforcement
officials and others have legitimate reasons for taking liberties with people's privacy. On
the whole, though, the ethics of privacy require that we respect others' private spaces,
thoughts, and words - especially if we expect them to respect ours.
MAIN ETHICAL ISSUES
In the handling and processing of private and personal information, we are
confronted with the following ethical issues :
Deciding which categories of personal and private information the
information professional is entitled to gather.
The confidential treatment of such information.
The accuracy of information.
The purposes for which information may be used.
The rights of a person in terms of the use and distribution of one's
personal and private information.
ETHICAL ISSUES OF COMPUTER PIRACY
Computer piracy is the reproduction, distribution and use
of software without permission of the owner of copyright. Illegal
software use that can be qualified as copyright violation includes
selling of computer facilities with illegally
replication and distribution of software copies on information carriers without
permission of the copyright owner;
illegal distribution of software through communication networks, such as the
Internet and e-mail; and
illegal use of software by the user.
TYPES OF COMPUTER PIRACY
Copying or distributing copyrighted software without license is one kind of piracy,
but it’s not the only kind. Simple possession of unauthorized software is also piracy.
Software piracy includes:
It is illegal to copy or possess software without licensing for each copy.
Individual users and companies alike must acquire enough licenses to cover
their software installations.
It is illegal for a computer manufacturer to copy software and preinstall
it without permission on more than one computer.
It is illegal to offer unauthorized copies of software for download over
the Internet. If software is available on the Internet, make sure the software
publisher has authorized this distribution.
It is illegal to manufacture unauthorized copies of software and
distribute those copies in packaging that reproduces or resembles that of the
manufacturer. Counterfeit registration cards with unauthorized serial numbers
are often included in these packages.
Online auction piracy.
It is illegal to resell software in violation of the original terms of sale, to
resell software marked not for resale (NFR), or to resell OEM software that is
never authorized for resale by a third party.
Online distributor piracy.
Software counterfeiters will sometimes promote "special deals" they've
made with the software publisher, advertise "liquidated inventories," or try to
generate interest in software they acquired through "bankruptcy sales." Watch
out for phrases like these. They can lead customers to think they're getting
genuine software at a discounted price.
Getting hold of software without buying it is increasingly easy. Whether by
borrowing a friend’s copy or downloading it illegally from the Internet, millions of
people around the world do it.
The copyright infringement of software, or software piracy, is illegal in many
countries. Even in countries where there are not legal measures in place for the
protection of copyrighted software, there are some compelling ethical issues that may
be considered both for and against software piracy.
Moral arguments to follow the law date back to Plato, and one
pertinent argument is attributed to British classicist W. D. Ross,
who states in his 1930 "The Right and the Good": “The duty of
obeying the laws of one's country arises partly … from the duty
of gratitude for the benefits one has received from it.”
If someone agrees that the law should not be broken, and the
law says not to break copyright laws, as does the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States, citizens
should not do so.
Other arguments that say using pirated software is morally
wrong include the loss of revenue to the creator of the
software, and that without software being paid for creators will
give up designing new software and there will be less software
being created in the future.
According to G. Frederick: in “Software Piracy: Some Facts,
Figures, and Issues,” 82 percent of PC software used in China is
pirated. Advocates against piracy would ask how much revenue
to software companies is lost every year in China alone.
Arguments in favor of software piracy
Software licenses cost the same wherever in the world you buy
them, but wages vary greatly over the world. People in
countries with lower GDP per capita will therefore find it harder
to buy software, which can be considered to be unfair to them
and emerging market economies.
In reference to China, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates famously said:
“As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal
ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure
out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
Here the “biggest loser” of software piracy seems to be
condoning it to some degree.
Another ethical argument that can be considered is
consequentialism, which can be defined as “the consequences
of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral
judgment about that action.”
Traian Basescu, Romanian president as of 2010, invoked a
consequentialist argument when he said: "piracy helped the
young generation discover computers. It set off the
development of the IT industry in Romania."
SOFTWARE PIRACY ISSUES
Software piracy is a serious business problem and the byproduct of an ongoing debate
on the ownership of information. According to a study conducted by the Business Software
Alliance, the piracy of packaged PC software products accounted for losses of 48 billion dollars
Along with loss of revenue, software piracy is tied to the growing spread of malware and
computer hacking. The problem is global in scale and growing. Hackers can plant malware in
pirated software and offer it as a download on peer-to-peer networks to infect and control the
Who Owns Information?
The idea that dominates any discussion of software piracy is intellectual
property. Who owns the software? The way almost all software is sold is
more like leasing than buying. The software user is actually purchasing a
lease to use the software. Often the lease is only for a limited amount of
time and must be renewed to continue using the product.
Loss of Revenue
Software piracy costs money. The Business Software Alliance estimates
that for every two dollars spent on legitimate software, one dollar is
spent on pirated software. The figure is even higher in Asia Pacific
regions where IDC report only seven cents is spent on legitimate
software for every dollar spent on pirated software.
It isn't only business that loses revenues from software piracy.
Governments lose the taxes that would have been paid on the purchase
of the pirated software.
Malware and Identity Theft
Using pirated software or software offered as a free download exposes
you to serious harm. Many computer criminals offer pirated software
that is infected with malware on peer-to-peer download sites or free
download Web pages.
The IDC Software Piracy Report states that 29 percent of websites
offering pirated software and 61 percent of peer-to-peer sites offering
pirated software tried to infect the computers used in the test with
Trojans, malware, and other digital tools for identity theft. This malware
can steal passwords, credit card data, and take control of your
STAND ON THE ISSUE OF ANTI-CYBERCRIME LAW
Last September 12, 2012, President Noynoy Aquino singed Republic Act 10175, otherwise
known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 aims to address legal
issues concerning online interactions and the Internet in the Philippines. Among the cybercrime offenses
included in the bill are cybersquatting, cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, illegal access to data
While hailed for penalizing illegal acts done via the internet that were not covered by old laws,
the act has been criticized for its provision on criminalizing libel, which is perceived to be a curtailment
in freedom of expression. It has drawn the ire of press freedom advocates and netizens, resulting in a
series of protests, the hacking of various government sites, and petitions to the Supreme Court to
amend or repeal the law.
The original version received widespread support from concerned sectors who recognized that
cybercrime is a growing problem that must be arrested. But, because of the last minute insertion of a
libel clause, which was not in the original version, many say that it now poses a serious threat to our
freedom of speech.
The Anti-Cybercrime Law have been crafted was crafted with the best of intentions. If many are
afraid because of the fact that under the law, libel in cyberspace has a greater penalty than ordinary
libel, then, bloggers and those of us ordinary citizens will “think twice before we click”. If journalists and
those in media may be liable for ordinary libel, what is so special with bloggers and users of social media
that merits an exception to the law? This will just make people act more responsibly on cyberspace.
Since the beginning of facebook, twitter and other social media, users have had a free hand to
say whatever it is that they wanted to say and send it to the rest of the world would think about its
repercussions. With the Anti-Cybercrime Law, people will be more considerate of other people and
would “think before they will click”.
Cybersex, hacking, stealing identities, scams, and other crimes intended to prey on innocent
computer users will have a corresponding penalty and because of this, it is hoped that these crimes will
be lessened or totally eradicated.
With the implementation of the new law, internet users will be more courteous and considerate
about other people. We have been given the freedom to explore the world wide web and use its many
resources for our own improvement. With this freedom is a corresponding responsibility to respect
other users’ rights and interests.