July 23, 2013
Computer ethics involves many different policies, however the most common policy associated with computer professionals includes the ten commandments of computer ethics. These commandments give a guideline for how people should use computers. Some of the commandments involve illegal practices that are immoral but some commandments are not necessarily illegal but they are immoral. Ethical practices are not limited to this scope. There are many organizations that require ethical behavior as part of being a member to an association. Being in violation of such policies can cause member to lose their membership and therefore their credibility with the computer world. Being a part of these organizations shows a company just how serious one is about security and being professional in every way.
The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics and Other Ethical Practices
There are distinctions in this world between what is ethical and what is illegal. Both do not always go hand in hand; in fact ethical standards can be placed in somewhat of a gray area. If the act is not illegal it cannot always be considered ethical but if an act is illegal it is most certainly unethical. Doing the right thing is what ethical standards are all about. The subject is complex and has stumped many philosophers for thousands of years. It is often said to be practical for people to act ethically. There is normally a general consensus about what is ethically and morally correct but the theories for how to establish these rules is usually difficult. The consequences of actions usually give away to whether the act is ethical or not. There is no formula or algorithm associated with computer ethics because ethical standards are very complex (Baase, 2008).
The ten commandments of computer ethics were created in 1992 by Ramon Barquin of the Computer Ethics Institute. These commandments offer a moral code that people should adhere to when using a computer. The Computer Ethics Institute reports that hundreds of companies and institutions of education have adopted these commandments (Smith, 2013).
This paper will discuss each commandment individually and explain why these commandments have become so important in the use of computers today. Just because something is legal does not make it morally right, therefore the ten commandments of computer ethics were made in order to give guidelines to computer professionals. The ten commandments of computer ethics are:
“Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.” ("CPSR," p. 1) This first commandment “includes the harmful effects of using a computer to corrupt someone's files or creating programs that interfere with another person's ability to use a computer” (Smith, 2013, para. 3). Ethics falls under this commandment when a computer is unable to be used due to malicious corruption of its internal components. This commandment means that people should not use a computer to hurt others (Smith, 2013).
“Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.” ("CPSR," 2011, p. 1) The second commandment “includes the creation or sending of viruses or malicious software to others with the purpose of destroying a computer's programs” ("Smith," 2013, para. 5). Ethics falls under this commandment when a person knowingly sends a virus or other corrupt programs to another person with the intent of ruining the programs that a computer has running. Obstructing people’s ability to work from a computer also falls under this commandment ("Smith," 2011).
“Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files.” ("CPSR," 2011, p. 1)
“Just as you would not read other people's postal mail, you should not read their emails or personal files on a computer ("Smith," 2013, para. 7).” Ethics falls under this commandment when a person accesses