Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reflection on perception of IT ethics and legal issues

The word ethics may give different meaning to different people.

“Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong?."
"Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs?."
"Being ethical is doing what the law requires?."
"Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts."

Ethics is concerned with what is right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair, responsible or irresponsible, obligatory or permissible, praiseworthy or blameworthy. We may wonder whether law and ethics are giving out the same meaning. But it is not. Ethics is a moral code of right and wrong that is generally acceptable by your community. Law is the codification of ethics as part of the government's responsibility to protect its citizens. Ethics are more like rules of conduct.

As for today, information technology plays a major role in the society. It has grown widely around the world. This has led to a doubt whether IT should also have its ethics and legislation. When it comes to IT ethics, stealing is still stealing, stalking is still stalking. We often ask whether the internet is uplifting ethical issues. “Computer ethics” is a branch of practical philosophy which deals with how computing professionals should make decisions regarding professional and social conduct.

As I am current enrolling on a BEng Software Engineering degree it is my responsibility to adhere to current IT ethics and its legislation. When in public I have to consider the due regard for public health, privacy, security and wellbeing of others and the environment. I should know how to conduct professional activities without discrimination on the grounds of nationality, colour, race, ethnic origin, religion, age or disability, or of any other condition or requirement. I must assist in promoting equal access to the benefits of IT and seek to promote the inclusion of all sectors in society wherever opportunities arise. Acting in public interest as such may be governed by legislation.

When in using my professional skills I should know only undertake to do work or provide a service that is only within my professional competence. In developing my professional knowledge, skills and competence on a continuing basis, I shall maintain awareness of technological developments, procedures, and standards that are related to my field. I must ensure that I have the knowledge and understanding of legislation and that I comply with it. In working with my profession I respect and value alternative viewpoints, and if it is needed to be criticized, I should give honest criticism. Avoiding injury to others, their property, reputation, or employment by false data or software should be noted. It is a well known fact that making any offer or acceptance of bribery.

When I am following my career I should carry out my responsibilities with due care in agreeing with the company’s or client’s requirements. Any situation that may give rise to a conflict of interest between you and your relevant authority should be avoided. When working with my colleagues I should take responsibility of mine and their work if they are working under my supervision. It is not accepted to hold back information on products, system and services. I should not advantage of the lack awareness or inexperience of others.
As for duty of my profession I should accept my personal duty to support the reputation of it and not take any action which could bring the profession to disgrace. I am to seek, in improving my professional standards through participation in their development.

With the improving technology at present the human kind also engage in crimes related to IT. Because of this reason, legal issues are brought down by different governments. I am currently aware of some of the legal acts brought down by governments such as…
Computer misuse act 1990
Data protection act 1998
Freedom and information act 2000

All of these acts are brought out to suppress piracy and hacking. When talking about piracy, many websites collect user data, from usernames and passwords to personal information such as addresses and phone numbers, without the explicit permission of users. Selling this information is widely considered unethical. I hereby consider that I have a good understanding about IT ethics and legal issues.

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