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Importance of ethics in IS

Importance of ethics in IS

Information is a source of power. Consequently, developments in information systems also
involve social and political relationships-- and so make ethical considerations in how
information is used all the more important. Electronic systems now reach into all levels of
government, into the workplace, and into private lives to such an extent that even people
without access to these systems are affected in significant ways by them. New ethical and legal
decisions are necessary to balance the needs and rights of everyone.

45.1 Meaning of Ethics
Ethics are moral choices made by individuals in relation to the rest of the community, standards
of acceptable behavior, and rules governing members of a profession. ETHICS are principles
and rules concerning duty to society, profession and business. Ethics is about how we ought to
live. The purpose of ethics in information systems is not philosophical or , it can mean
the survival of a business or industry. The issues relating to electronic information systems
include control of and access to information, privacy and misuse of data, International
considerations. Issues of ethics and privacy have always been there even when computerized
environments were in their natal phase. However, with the advancement in technology, the
issues have grown sophisticated and so are the remedies.

45.2 Ethical Challenges
Information system security association of USA has listed down following ethical challenges
1. Misrepresentation of certifications, skills
2. Abuse of privileges
3. Inappropriate monitoring
4. Withholding information
5. Divulging information inappropriately
6. Overstating issues
7. Conflicts of interest
8. Management / employee / client issues

Netiquette, or on-line civility, is a matter of common sense and of remembering the context of
behavior. The etiquette guidelines for posting messages to online services, and particularly
Internet newsgroups. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions (i.e.,
avoiding flames), but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages.

Netiquette Guidelines
In general, do not waste other people's time, be disruptive, or threaten.
Do not take up network storage space with large, unnecessary files; these should be
Do not look at other people's files or use other systems without permission.
When joining a bulletin board or discussion group, check the FAQ (frequently asked
questions) file before asking questions.
Remember that on-line communications lack the nuances of tone, facial expression, and
body language. Write clearly. Try to spell correctly and to use good grammar.
Do not SHOUT needlessly. Capital letters are the on-line equivalent of shouting.
Use asterisks to give emphasis, but do so *sparingly*.
Sign messages, and include an e-mail address when writing to strangers, just in case a
message's header is lost.
People who become too obnoxious can be banned from a system or simply ignored.
Many companies and professional organizations develop their own codes of ethics. A code of
ethics is a collection of principals intended as a guide for the members of a company or an
organization. The diversity of IT applications has increased and the increased use of the
technology have created a variety of ethical issues.

45.3 Privacy and Ethics
Whenever one has to talk of privacy, ethics is the second half of it. It won’t be wrong to say that
privacy may not have been an issue had it not been linked with the ethical view a society has.
There are certain aspects which when put together formulate a set of ethical issues. These are
1. Privacy issues
2. Accuracy issues
3. Property issues
4. Accessibility issues

Privacy issues
Following aspects should be covered when privacy is dealt with.
What kind of surveillance should be used by an employer on an employee?
What things can keep to themselves and not be forced to reveal to others?
What information about individuals should be kept in database and how secure is the
information there – Issues of Data Protection
What can be revealed to others about oneself if one is required to do so?

Accuracy Issues
Following are some of the accuracy issues.
How can we ensure that information will be processed and presented properly?
Who is responsible for checking the correctness of information collected?
Is there any track of errors, omissions made in the database and who has made them at
what time.
Who is to be held accountable for the changes made in data base, whether authorized or
unauthorized, intentional or unintentional.

Property Issues
Following are some of the property issues.
There has to be defined owner of the information
Issues of software piracy
Use of corporate computers for private use
Who should access which component of information database.

Accessibility Issues
These mostly comprise of two aspects.
Extent of access to be given to various employees in the organization.
The definition of privileges of each person.

Before we start of with the concept of privacy in computerized environments let’s take a look
what privacy is in its literal terms. Privacy means the quality or condition of being secluded from
the presence or view of others, the state of being free from unsanctioned intrusion: a person's
right to privacy, t
he state of being concealed; secrecy. Privacy is quite a subjective/relative concept.
The limits and boundaries for it are defined by everybody in his own context.

Protecting Privacy
There are certain important considerations. The rights of privacy must be balanced against the
needs of the society. Every society has to decide somewhere on the gray area between hiding all
and knowing all extremes. Public’s rights to know is superior to the individual’s rights of
privacy. Usually public and individual’s rights stand in conflict with each other. Since
government agencies have their concerns in priority e.g. criminal investigation, undesirable
social activities. Various aspects can be seen as a threat to privacy.

45.4 Threats to Privacy
As technology has grown sophisticated, various aspects can be seen as a threat to privacy.
Electronic surveillance
Data Profiling
Online Privacy
Workplace monitoring
Location tracking
Background checks
Financial privacy
Medical record and genetic profiling
Digital right
Intellectual property rights
Taxation Issues

45.5 Electronic Surveillance
Secret video surveillance is quite a common technology used at offices and public places and
events. CCTV’s commonly known as Closed Circuit Televisions can be seen at almost every
place. Privacy and civil liberties advocates condemn the use of this technology for recognition
of criminals. Since, in part such technologies tend to hit privacy of many who are productive
part of the society. Civil libertarians advocate against this kind of monitoring. Employees have
limited protection against employers. Many countries are getting serious on finding the right
balance between personal privacy and electronic surveillance in terms of threats to national

45.6 Data Profiling
As we make our way through everyday life, data is collected from each of us, frequently without
our consent and often without our realization. We pay our bills with credit cards and leave a
data trail consisting of purchase amount, purchase type, date, and time. Data is collected when
we pay by check. Our use of supermarket discount cards creates a comprehensive database of
everything we buy. When our car, equipped with a radio transponder, passes through an
electronic toll booth, our account is debited and a record is created of the location, date, time,
and account identification. We leave a significant data trail when we surf the Internet and visit
websites. When we subscribe to a magazine, sign up for a book or music club, join a
professional association, fill out a warranty card, give money to charities, donate to a political
candidate, tithe to our church or synagogue, invest in mutual funds, when we make a telephone
call, when we interact with a government agency.

45.7 Online Privacy and E-Commerce
News stories of Internet privacy threats are commonplace these days. The Internet was
designed as an inherently insecure communications vehicle. Hackers easily penetrate the most
secure facilities of the military and financial institutions. Internet companies have designed
numerous ways to track web users as they travel and shop throughout cyberspace. "Cookie" is
no longer a word associated solely with sweets. It now refers to cyber-snooping. Identity thieves
are able to shop online anonymously using the credit-identities of others. Web-based
information brokers sell sensitive personal data, including Social Security numbers, relatively

45.8 Workplace Monitoring
Privacy advocates often use these words to describe the workplace. Many forms of monitoring
technologies are available in the marketplace and are becoming cheaper each year video
surveillance, telephone monitoring, e-mail and voice mail monitoring, computer keystroke
tracking, Internet Web site monitoring, location tracking using badges worn by employees and
satellite tracking of the company fleet.
Privacy issues in Work place monitoring
What makes matters worse is that these systems can be deployed secretly and invisibly.
Employers are not required by law to disclose to their employees that such monitoring is being
conducted. A requirement of Employer Disclosure is not a normal practice in various countries.
The only places where employees can expect to be free from surveillance are in bathrooms and
locker rooms, but even this protection is not absolute.

Workplace Monitoring Justifications
Employers make several arguments to justify their use of monitoring systems.
1. The employer owns the systems used by the employees to do their work - primarily the
phone and computer systems.
2. Employers are responsible for the work product of their employees. Therefore they have
a right, even a duty to monitor.
3. Employers must be able to detect and prevent the sharing or selling of trade secrets and
other matters of corporate intellectual property.
4. Employers have been successful in making these arguments when aggrieved workers have
filed lawsuits for privacy violations. The few court cases have largely been decided in the
employers' favor.

Wireless Communication and Locations Tracking
The products and services offered by the wireless industry are also hitting the privacy aspects.
The signals emitted by a cell phone may be used to track location of a user from the nearest
communications towers. Cell phones these days have the ability to pinpoint the user's location
to the nearest 100 feet for emergency assistance. Marketers also use this cell positioning
technology to market their products. For instance if we are passing by a food chain, we might
receive a message telling us that just off the next exit is a restaurant that serves our favorite
cuisine or a new discount package.

Back Ground Checks
More and more organizations try to check back ground history of the employees in certain
respects. For instance banks for issue of loans, leasing companies, insurance companies and
employers. Usual aspects are credit profiling e.g. credit worthiness reports by Credit
Information Bureau of SBP, Ethnic background, criminal background, addiction and medical

Issues of Privacy
The cost of background checks has decreased dramatically in recent years. As a result, more
employers are conducting them. Mostly the retrieved information in background checks is
either incorrect or misleading. The reason is that there is no such thing as a perfect database.

Financial Privacy
Banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms are now able to affiliate with one another
under one corporate roof. Credit card companies, banks, insurance companies, and brokerage
firms may share their respective databases with one another but they cannot sell customer data
to third parties without prior notice to customers commonly known as affiliate sharing. Certain
outcomes of affiliate sharing are "junk" mail, e-mail, telemarketing solicitations and SPAM
(simultaneously produced advertised message). Elderly individuals with cash-rich portfolios
could be vulnerable to fraud artists' promises of lucrative returns on risky investments. In
certain countries legislation on Financial Information Privacy has been successfully enacted
that requires an “opt in” by customers before a financial institution can sell personal
information to third parties.

Medical Record confidentiality
Most individuals consider their medical information to be among the most sensitive of any
information about them.
In the field of health care, another privacy issue on the healthcare front is genetic profiling. In
many countries, the use of genetic data to discriminate in both employment and health
insurance is of growing concern to consumers, healthcare professionals, and policymakers

Digital Right Management
The migration of print, music, and images to the Internet has spawned new technologies called
"digital rights management" systems (DRM) that infringe upon intellectual freedom. Intellectual
property scholars point out that copyright and privacy have traditionally been compatible
because copyright provisions control public distribution of content. The right to explore ideas
in books, music, and movies without having to identify ourselves. The right to anonymity is a
vital foundation stone of our democratic society.
Download of content from internet for misusage must be controlled. Private use of copyrighted
material has been governed by various legislations. The most recent development in this regard

45.9 TRIPS
PROPERTY RIGHTS. The agreement has been instituted by World Trade Organization for all
its members. The agreement sets minimal rules for national intellectual property law in order to
prevent member nations from using intellectual property as a hidden trade barrier against other
nations. Part II of the agreement specifically defines the scope and use of various intellectual
property rights
1. Copyright and Related Rights
2. Trademarks
3. Geographical Indications
4. Industrial Designs
5. Patents
6. Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits
7. Protection of Undisclosed Information
8. Control of Anti-Competitive Practices in Contractual Licences
Article 10.1 of TRIPS provides that computer programs, whether in source or object code,
shall be protected as literary works under the Berne Convention (1971).
Since Pakistan is signatory to WTO it had to take necessary steps to ensure transfer of
intellectual property rights from / to Pakistan. Accordingly the Electronic Data Protection Act
2005 was enacted by the parliament covering various aspects relating to various forms of data,
privacy and consent issues of data subjects whose data is processed, security of electronic data,
disclosure and dissemination issues and addressing complaints and offences.

Taxation Issues
Take a situation where a transaction is done online. The server processing the transaction for
execution may be in USA. The supplier of the product may be in Canada. The shipment may be
made from UK. The owner of the website may be in Australia. The person paying online may
be physically in Pakistan. The Question is where should the transaction be taxed: at the source
of origin or the place of execution. The E-commerce while giving convenience has also
complicated the situation. Electronic transfers are made to foreign countries which may be
known to the banks but are hidden from tax authorities. Covert banking channels are used.
Undisclosed assets are accumulated.

45.10 Privacy Codes and Policies
These were some of the issues developing on privacy. An organization may think of
developing and implementing a privacy policy. One way to protect privacy is to develop
privacy policies or codes which can help organizations avoid legal problems. Senior
management should take acceptance of employees, customers and suppliers and address issues

Aspects to be covered by Privacy Policy
It should cover issues like an overview on what the policy aims to cover, scope of application of
the policy, all employees of the organization, customers both online and offline, random visitors
registering for the information extraction in case of web privacy, Giving customers and
employees an idea what sort and extent of processing and handling may be performed on the
data being collected from them every time they visit, Informing web visitors that as they visit
the website, the web server will save cookies on their terminal and the benefit which the visitors
will get i.e. the web-server will recognize the visitor when the website is visited next time and
the fact that IP addresses are being saved by the web server and if combined with the ISP
address, can help to locate computer originating message. This is not an exclusive detail of
issues. Other issues may also be added according to the need of the organization.

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