Ethical and Social
Issues in Information Systems
1. What ethical, social, and
political issues are raised by information systems?
how ethical, social, and political issues are connected and give some examples.
Answer: In each and every aspect of our life
today, we are connected with information system. It has become an important
part of our life. The work place, private life, government and even individual
with no access to this system are affected in some way. Information
systems have brought many possibilities for behavior which gives rise to issues
in ethical, social and political standards
Ethical issues are caused
due to the dilemmas that occurs when one gets many path for travel i.e.
information system provides many possibilities or course of actions. When you
have many possibilities for behavior, it’s not always that you chose the right
one. Example; Through help of
information system an accountant of company has excess to all the financial
information, now it has created two paths in front of him. In one path he can
secure the information of the company and in another he can easily forward it
to competing parties or corrupt some money. This creates dilemma in the
accountant. If he takes the 1st path he maintains ethical standard
but 2nd path will lead to ethical issue. That issue is going to harm
the company creating both social and political issues. When a stone is thrown
in a calm pond it disturbs each and every corner, similarly when one violates
the standard whether it is individual or society or politics all have to suffer
the issue because all lie in the same pond, they are connected.
List and describe the key technological trends that heighten ethical
Answer: The key technological trends that enhance or raise ethical
of computer power every 18 months
The doubling of computing power every 18 months is
creating a growing dependence on systems and a consequent vulnerability to
system errors, poor data quality, and failure of critical systems.
Rapid decline in data storage costs
Advances in data storage techniques and rapidly declining storage costs
provide for massive data storage capabilities on individual systems and enable
the routine violation of individual privacy.
Data analysis advances
Advances in data analysis techniques for large pools of data are another
technological trend that heightens ethical concerns because companies and
government agencies are able to find out highly detailed personal information
Networking advances and the Internet
Network advances are another prominent technological trend that heightens
ethical concerns because copying data from one location to another and
accessing personal data from remote locations are much easier.
between responsibility, accountability, and liability.
is a key element of ethical actions. Responsibility means that you accept the
potential costs, duties, and obligations for the decisions you make. Whenever
responsibility is defined it appears to be in relation to accountability. This
suggests the two are synonyms, but this is not the case. At most basic level,
responsibility means to be responsible for an act one undertakes, while
accountability simply means to be called to account.
Accountability is a feature of systems and social
institutions. It means that mechanisms are in place to determine who took
Liability is a feature of political systems in
which a body of laws is in place that permits individuals to recover the
damages done to them by other actors, systems, or organizations.
2. What specific
principles for conduct can be used to guide ethical decisions?
List and describe the five steps in
an ethical analysis.
Answer: The five steps in an ethical analysis are as follows:
i. Identify and describe clearly the facts
ii. Define the conflict or dilemma and identify the higher-order values
iii. Identify the stakeholders
iv. Identify the options that you can reasonably take
v. Identify the potential consequences of your options
description of five steps in an ethical analysis are as follows:
i.Identify and describe clearly the facts:
Find out who did what to whom,
and where, when, and how. In many instances, you will be surprised at the
errors in the initially reported facts, and often you will find that simply
getting thefacts straight helps define the solution.
ii. Define the conflict or dilemma and identify
the higher-order values involved:
Ethical, social, and political
issues always reference higher values. The parties to a dispute all claim to be
pursuing higher values (e.g., freedom, privacy, protection of property, and the
free enterprise system). Typically, an ethical issue involves dilemma: two
diametrically opposed courses of action that support worthwhile values.
iii. Identify the stakeholders:
ethical, social, and political issue has stakeholders: players in the game who
have an interest in the outcome, who have invested in the situation, and
usually who have vocal opinions.
iv. Identify the options that you can reasonably
None of the options
satisfy all the interests involved, but that some options do a better job than
others. Sometimes arriving at a good or ethical solution may not always be
balancing of consequences to stakeholders.
v. Identify the potential consequences of your
Some options may be
ethically correct but disastrous from other points of view. Other options may
work in one instance but not in other similar instances.
and describe six ethical principles.
Answer: The six ethical principles are as follows:
i. Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you
would have them do unto you.
ii. Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative:
If an action is not right for everyone to take, it is not right for
iii. Descartes’ Rule of Change:
If an action cannot be taken repeatedly, it
is not right to take at all. An action may bring about asmall change now
that is acceptable, but if it is repeated, it would bringunacceptable changes
in the long run.
iv. Utilitarian Principle:
Take the action that achieves the higher or greater value. This
rule assumes you can prioritize values in a rank order and understand the
consequences of various courses of action.
v. Risk Aversion Principle:
Take the action that produces
the least harm or least potential cost.
vi. Ethical “no free lunch” Rule:
Assume that virtually all
tangible and intangible objects are owned by someone unless there is a specific
declaration otherwise. If something someone else has created is useful to
you,it has value, and you should assume the creator wants compensation for this
3.Why do contemporary information systems
technology and the Internet pose challenges to the protection of individual
privacy and intellectual property?
Answer: Fair information
practices are set of principles governing the collection and use of information.
Contemporary data storage and data analysis technology enables
companies to easily gather personal data about individuals from many different
sources and analyze these data to create detailed electronic profiles about
individuals and their behaviors. Data flowing over the Internet can be
monitored at many points. Cookies and other Web monitoring tools closely track
the activities of Website visitors. Cookies are tiny
files downloaded by Web site to visitor’s hard drive to help identify visitor’s
browser and track visits to site. Not all Web sites have strong privacy
protection policies, and they do not always allow for informed consent regarding the use of
personal information. Traditional copyright laws are insufficient to protect
against software piracy because digital material can be copied so easily and
transmitted to many different locations simultaneously over the Internet.
Intellectual property is considered to be intangible property created by
individuals or corporations. Information technology has made it difficult to
protect intellectual property because computerized information can be so easily
copied or distributed in networks. Intellectual property is subject to a
variety of protections under three different legal traditions: trade secrets,
copyright, and patent law.
Any intellectual work product—a
formula, device, pattern, or compilation of Data—used for a business purpose
can be classified as a trade secret,
provided it is not based on information in the public domain. Protections for
trade secrets vary from state to state. In general, trade secret laws grant a
monopoly on the ideas behind a work product, but it can be a very tenuous
Copyright is a statutory grant that
protects creators of intellectual property from having their work copied by
others for any purpose during the life of the author plus an additional 70
years after the author’s death. For corporate owned works, copyright protection
lasts for 95 years after their initial creation.
A patent grants the owner an exclusive monopoly on the ideas behind
an invention for 20 years. The congressional intent behind patent law was to
ensure that inventors of new machines, devices, or methods receive the full
financial and other rewards of their labor and yet make widespread use of the
invention possible by providing detailed diagrams for those wishing to use the
idea under license from the patent’s owner.
4. How have information systems affected
Answer: Although computer
systems have been sources of efficiency and wealth, they have some negative
impacts. Computer errors can cause serious harm to individuals and
organizations. Poor data quality isalso responsible for disruptions and losses
for businesses. Although software companies try to debug their products before
releasing them to the marketplace, they knowingly ship buggy products because
the time and cost of fixing all minor errors would prevent these products from
ever being released. What if the product was not offered on the marketplace,
would social welfare as a whole not advance and perhaps even decline? Carrying
this further, just what is the responsibility of a producer of computer
services—should it withdraw the product that can never be perfect, warn the
user, or forget about the risk (let the buyer beware)?
Three principal sources of poor
system performance are (1) software bugs and errors, (2) hardware or facility
failures caused by natural or other causes, and (3) poor input data quality.
can be lost when computers replace workers or tasks become unnecessary in
reengineered business processes. The ability to own and use computer may be
exacerbating socioeconomic disparities among different racial groups and social
classes. Widespread use of computers increases opportunities for computer crime
and computer abuse. Computers can also create health problems, such as RSI,
computer vision syndrome, and techno stress.
Quality of life: Equity, access, and boundaries
Balancing power: Although
computing power decentralizing, key decision-making remains centralized.
Rapidity of change: Businesses
may not have enough time to respond to global competition
Maintaining boundaries: Computing,
Internet use lengthens work-day, infringes on family, personal time
vulnerability: Public and private organizations ever more dependent on