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Ethical and Social Impacts of Information Technology

Ethical and Social Impacts of Information Technology

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Ethical and Social Impacts of Information Technology

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  1. Ethical and Social Impacts of Information Technology • IT trends and ethics • Principles of technology ethics • Major issues related to information privacy • Internet cookies • Software tools • Challenges to intellectual property rights

  2. Ethical and Social Impact of Information Technology • Moral dimensions of information systems • Information rights and cookies • Intellectual property rights • Accountability • System quality • Quality of life

  3. Key IT Trends That Raise Ethics Issues • Increasing computing power • IT-enabling core business processes increases our dependence on systems and vulnerability to system failures • Social rules and laws not adjusted to this dependence • Declining data storage costs • Indiscriminate storage of data by organizations may lead to privacy violations • Large amounts of data also leads to questions about effective control and management of the data

  4. Key IT Trends That Raise Ethics Issues • Advances in data analysis • Data mining and other data analysis techniques allow companies to know more detailed personal information about individuals • Profiling leads to concerns about privacy protection • Advances in networking • Reduced costs of moving and accessing large quantity of customer information may lead to large-scale privacy violation concerns

  5. Principles of Technology Ethics • Proportionality – the good achieved by the technology must outweigh the harm or risk • Informed Consent – those affected by the technology should understand and accept the risks • Justice – the benefits and burdens of the technology should be distributed fairly • Minimized Risk – even if judged acceptable by the other three guidelines, the technology must be implemented so as to avoid all unnecessary risk

  6. Major Privacy Issues • Accessing individuals’ private e-mail conversations and computer records, and collecting and sharing information about individuals gained from their visits to Internet websites and newsgroups • Always knowing where a person is, especially as mobile and paging services become more closely associated with people rather than places

  7. Major Privacy Issues • Using customer information gained from many sources to market additional business services • Collecting telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, credit card numbers, and other personal information to build individual customer profiles

  8. Societal Solutions • Many of the detrimental effects of information technology are caused by individuals or organizations that are not accepting the ethical responsibility for their actions. • Technology developments and trends will continue to challenge our ability to control un-ethical behavior by individuals and organizations • Organizational policies and individual behavior are more important than technology to controlling un-ethical use of IS • Like other powerful technologies, information technology possesses the potential for great harm or great good for all human kind.

  9. How Cookie Works • When a user chooses to view a Web-site through a Web browser, a request is sent from the client to the Web server running the Web-site • The Web server sends the Web page and a small data file, called cookie, to the client • The cookie has a unique user ID and the information given by the web server and is stored on the user’s computer • Whenever the user goes back to this Web-site, the Web server retrieves the cookie and uses it to identify the user • The Web server can use the cookie data to personalize the Web-site being displayed on the user’s computer

  10. Some Cookie Facts • Contrary to popular belief, cookies • cannot "read" information off your hard drive • cannot "divulge" credit card information unknowingly • cannot "reveal" personal information about you • Browsers and cookies • Browsers don't have to accept cookies • If they do, then it is the browser that decides if/when to send cookie information as part of its web communication • Browsers only send back "exact copies" of the cookie that they originally received from a Web server without adding additional information • Web servers can only make a polite request that they receive it on future communication. Browsers are free to ignore it • Browsers only send cookie information back to the specific Web server where it originated. Your browser will not (and cannot) send cookie information to, say, Site A that it originally received from Site B. Source: John Charlesworth at

  11. Software Tools to Protect Privacy • Spyware/adware (badware) • Comet cursor, Flyswat, Radiate • Anti-spyware • Webroot Software Inc.'s Spy Sweeper • LavaSoft's Ad-Aware • Tenebril Inc.'s SpyCatcher • Spybot Search & Destroy • Computer Associates Inc.'s eTrust PestPatrol • Pop-up blockers • Zero popup, STOPzilla, AdSmasher

  12. Internet Challenges to Intellectual Property Rights • Digital media is easy to replicate, easy to transmit, easy to alter, and easy to steal • Internet and the proliferation of networks makes it easy to distribute digital content • Information can be illegally copied and distributed through networks even without the willing participation of the networks