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The Ethical Use of Information Technology Research Paper Problem statement :
Ethics refers to the morally accepted code of behavior in a society or institution. According to Van Braker, Information technology is the gathering, organization, storage and distribution of information in various formats by use of computers and telecommunication techniques. It can also be defined as an information age or an era where the economic activities have been made information based because of technology and development. This era has been characterized by the increase in the level of knowledge by the workers in institutions and internalization or the trans-boarder flow of information. This essay will critically discuss the ethical usage of information technology, the social ethical changes caused by information technology and how a code of ethics can be developed in order to solve ethical issues.
Information technology has both advantages and disadvantages. A number of ethical norms, which can be used to find a solution to ethical issues, are discussed below. Truth as a norm has a twofold ethical function. First, it acts as a norm for the truthful information correctness. Secondly, truth expresses ethical virtues such as honesty openness and trustworthiness. The other important norm that can be used is freedom. It gives a person the liberty of making choices in terms of privacy and freedom from interference, though, the choice to freedom should not limit the freedom of other people. Finally, the norm of human rights applied to privacy refers to the juridical acceptance and shield of peoples’ freedom to privacy.
The Ethical Usage of Information Technology
Information technology has been of great importance to the people if used appropriately. It has made things easier in different fields such as schools, hospitals, and work places. People are now being monitored using the electronic eyes at their workplaces. Monitoring of people increases productivity because the workers feel that they are being watched and hence tend to maintain morals at their workplaces. Though it increases productivity, workers are not always comfortable being monitored and this creates the panoptical phenomena.
Secondly, information technology has promoted data banking by integration if private databases containing important information into a central database. There has been a problem during integration where an individual does not know of his information being integrated. To curb this problem, a Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act were passed in the 1980s by an American called Benjamin.
Thirdly, there has been an increased use of shoppers’ cards in the retail shops. The cards have computer chips hidden inside that record the items purchased and the details of the buyer. Buying cards are of great importance to the marketing companies by enabling them to do target buying because they are aware of the buying trends of their customers.
Information technology has made communication to friends and family members very easy. People are able to access their banking information very fast by the use of ATM cards without having to queue.
Lastly information technology has enabled E-mail messages interception and reading in the companies. The company owners are able to see whether the employees are using their services to do private businesses. This enhances concentration at the workplaces through monitoring of the workers communication via the E-mail.
The ethical use of information technology has had some ethical issues which have been very difficult to solve. Coming up with a decision on what kind of private or public information is entitled to gathering has been very tricky. Sometimes private information might be undeliberately integrated with the public information. Treatment of information gained through reference interview in a confidential manner has not been very easy.
Processing of accurate information for example, medical information is a major problem. Information professionals have been going through a hard time trying to locate the accurate information especially from a system that has been hacked.
The other issue is where people ask themselves whether they are supposed to consult the owner of some private information before using it. There have been cases where some private information was used without the owners’ consent. Still we do not have clear rights as to the distribution and use of private information.
Social Ethical Changes Caused by Information Technology
Society ethical changes brought about by information technology are far-reaching. In former generations information industry was set aside for certain industries. There was a restricted seclusion related to the people who used information technology and what information was impacted by information technology (Brooks, 2010). Everything changed in the 1990s when information technology came up as a fast developing industry. The world in a matter of time transformed from a manual to a digital. Today, almost every human being on earth interacts with information technology daily, and in the western countries, this interaction is almost non-stop from dawn to dusk (Nuyen, 2004). Due to the regular relation with information technology, people nowadays have better contact to information that is used in unethically.
The level at which workers and the entire public have contact with sensitive and non-sensitive information has caused a number of ethical changes in the society. Access to personal information for own gain, reverse of engineering programs in order to access trade secrets and victimizing other people (Floridi, 2010). These new concerns on ethical information technology use have led to the formulation of numeral laws as well as security measures that are anticipated to protect people from problems brought about by information technology use; still, protective actions have not been able to solve the problem (Reynolds, 2003). Information technology is still being used to steal money from institutions, to steal people’s identities and to terrorize people on social networks.
Developing a Code of Ethics to Solve Ethical Issues
Development of a code of ethics in information technology use should target to reduce chances of engaging into unethical behaviors. These days, the public has an exceptional contact to information. This unlimited access has created too much vulnerability to unethical information technology use. In order to curb these vulnerability organizations will have to use their official rights to manage workers behavior by formulating a code of ethics that outlines exactly how workers can use the institutions’ information technology. This will help to minimize legitimate chances for workers to act in an unethical manner while using the institutions’ information technology (Johnson & Miller, 2009). This only solves some of the problems; the other unsolved part of the problems rest in the unlawful use of institutions’ information technology to indulge themselves in unethical behaviors. To curb these unethical behaviors, institutional laws and disciplinary actions have to be involved. Organizations that detect unethical behavior by their workers have to take instant counteractive actions so as to guard their organization customers and assets, as well as setting the standard of not tolerating such behaviors.
IT Ethics Research Paper Conclusion
Information technology has contributed in making life easier day by day. Companies that have been using IT to monitor their employees and to integrate their databases have had remarkable improvements on their performance. Information technology has come with unethical behaviors which have been very difficult to solve. Nearly everybody on earth has access to information technology and can use it anyhow. Rules and regulations should be formulated to curb unethical behavior associated to information technology.
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