As a result, there are more opportunities than ever for millions of individuals to engage with information technology in an unethical manner. This is why it is essential for the education systems and businesses to address the ethical concerns of information technology usage and to develop a practical code of ethics to prevent, or at least mitigate ,ethical dilemmas and infractions. In today’s organizations, ethical challenges relate to areas like fraud, right to privacy for consumers, social responsibility, and trade restrictions.
For Information Technology (IT) specifically, these can translate to considerations on how technology is used to violate people’s privacy, how automation leads to job reductions, or how management information and its corresponding systems are used and abused for personal gain. I n the last 25 years, we have seen an overwhelming technology infusion affecting business, education, and society. Virtually all areas of our society have been transformed by the usage of technology. The change is important from an ethical perspective in terms of whose Information Technology (IT) workers are today and what their tasks are.
In the 1980s, IT workers were mainly limited to technical fields, such as programming, data processing, server administration, and phone services. Today, IT workers are integrated into every department of organizations, they function globally, and they have access to a wealth of knowledge and information (Payne & Landry, 2006). With the power and skills to access such large amounts of data comes with the need for ethical employees.
The computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CSPR) web site provides us food for thought when they state “Technology is driving the future, the steering is up to us…. nd we need every hand at the wheel” (Computer Professionals For Social Responsibility, 2007). So how do we prepare for taking the wheel as an individual working with Information Technology (IT) or Information Systems (IS)? A broader view of social responsibility is coming into focus; it is one that incorporates some real Information Technology (IT) flash points. Issues that have long been concerns of corporate technology managers, including security, privacy, and intellectual property, are increasingly understood as matters of ethics and good citizenship.
This perspective is far from universal. The research of CIO (Chief Information Officer), a leading information technology trade journal, shows that while IT managers are very aware of “the larger effect of technology on people’s lives,” nearly half those surveyed say IT pros are “not very concerned” about it (Cones, 2008). This more global understanding of technology’s powerful role in society is not new. Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, an organization which deals with related issues, was founded in 1983.
Much has been written on technology’s impact on the way we live and work, including musings on the moral aspects of a wired society. But the sense that these issues encompass the day-to-day operations of corporate IT appears to be gaining popularity. According to Donald Amoroso, chair of the computer science and information systems department at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, it is a piece of the maturing of information technology. As the job becomes less about the technology itself and more about the information Age, the definition of responsible corporate citizenship changes too.
Social responsibility has to do with being a good person in different parts of the community,” Amoroso says. It determines how you will function and do your job in a societal sense, not just as part of the community you do philanthropy with” (Cone, 2008). At the 2007 conference of the Information