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Ethics and Professional Practice Ethics on ICT
All over the world, and more especially in the industrial nations, information and communication technology (ICT) has proven to be permeating the bigger percentage of individual and organizational activities. Owing to the development of ICT, which includes network technology and databases along with the considerably explosive internet growth, majority of business-oriented organizations have ended up carrying out a variety of their operations in an e-business environment setting (Jansen & Grance, 2011). In such an environment, most of the organizational communication is carried through the internet technology. This qualifies the claim that, generally, the quality of work, social and even home life is significantly rooted in the quality of ICT-based information systems. Following the overreliance on both ICT and ICT-based information systems by the modern society, there have reportedly been defects and malfunctions in these ICT-oriented information systems, which is at the same time accompanied by ICT abuse. Such has led to situations that are not only serious but also catastrophic (Hodges, 2001). One of the principal issues that ICT raises is privacy; that has actually become a perennial issue. According to a number of press reports, hardly a week passes without the internet privacy issues being brought on in the news headlines. However, government’s involvement in ensuring privacy may achieve success in spite of having some downsides.
Transactions are transmitted as well as recorded in databases in various institutions, such as hospitals, banks, shopping complexes, and private and public organizations (Linderman & Schiano, 2001). Such databases and electronic communications are prone to exposing private and important data to unauthorized individuals in the event that the data are not adequately and securely guarded. In addition, hackers have reportedly accessed and altered numerous government websites. In general, both digital convergence and globalization in a society that is emerging in terms of its knowledge base has more often than not raised concerns on legal social and ethical issues, especially on privacy. Malicious use or negligent development of ICT and its related information systems has resulted in numerous incidents that have, besides infringing human rights, corroded a number of human values, as they do not guarantee privacy. This has thrown many accusations towards the ICT-dependent society. Complexity and difficulty also revolve around a number of issues, such as access to information, freedom of expression, intellectual property rights, with cultural diversity being no exception (Hodges, 2001).
Since ICT has proved to be an instrumental tool to all humankind for purposes of acquiring both information and knowledge, it ought to be guaranteed to all humankind as a basic right. However, the evaluation and analysis of ICT can be a challenging task since ICT does not necessarily comprise technological aspects, but also takes into account its epistemology. The unfortunate thing, on the contrary, is that across the globe, the legally recognized right of privacy has overtime been violated through ICT, be it the tenets of political stability, economic advancement, campaign against terrorism, personal interests and greed, or religious causes (Johnson, 2001). Such violations are evidenced in the examples of new social system problems, including cybercrime and digital material insecurity. The abovementioned problems have actually, directly or indirectly, affected the lives of people.
As earlier mentioned, the right to privacy in the internet and its activities has become one serious issue that the society faces today (Jansen & Grance, 2011). While some of the users of the internet argue that their identities ought to be shielded when they are actively involved in open discussions on topics that are considerably sensitive, there are those who resort to playing under the cover of falsified identities in MUDs and chat rooms. Through the help of the increasingly available cloak of anonymity, cases of abuse and harassment over the internet have been multiplying day in day out. In addition to this, scam and fraud artists have eluded law enforcement authorities via anonymous postings and mailings. There are also those people whose concern is to multiply the essentially private information on the internet (Sembok, 2003). Notably, there is hardly any formal law that is in existence within the cyberspace; and as thus, users of the internet can only access resources only via those laws that are applicable to their own governments. It is therefore paramount for governments to be actively involved in the determination of the extent of personal privacy on the internet.
There are a number of reasons as well as advantages as to why state governments ought to play this crucial role on the issue of privacy on the internet. To begin with, the government has the authority to enforce security and privacy policies on the use of the internet (Sembok, 2003). In this case, the licensing agency is mandated to institute rules, determine the use of the internet information, legitimate and authorize the internet service practitioners. Such governmental policy development, programs in human resources development and investments have built a significant capacity, know-how, and experience through which other countries have also become beneficiaries.
Moreover, the levels of cybercrime, which has become a worldwide problem for most economies and countries, have been lowered since these governments embraced pro-active and cooperative approaches to remedy the crime (Johnson, 2001). Apart from the involvement in the regulation of privacy on internet, the governments have ensured that the internet is not used or misused as a communication medium in situations that are likely to culminate in a direct damage to society. Such damaging situations may include the non-collection of taxes on transactions that are carried out online, which has the potential of having a destructive effect on both businesses and government revenues (Borje, 2002). There are also high probabilities that terrorists may utilize the internet for the purposes of creating conspiracies and instigating violence. Likewise, free and wide sharing of beliefs, ideologies, opinions, and convictions between divergent cultures are likely to result in physical and emotional anxiety and confusion that, in the end, cause physical violence. It is for such reasons that the governments of various states have to assume pivotal roles in determining the extent to which personal privacy on the internet has to be protected (Borje, 2002).
Government involvement, in collaboration with members of the civil society, the private sector and other non-governmental organizations, has also ensured protection, especially towards minors who are quite exposed to sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. This clause can be understood in details from The Yokohama Global Commitment 2001, which reaffirms that the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of children ought to be ensured, and children protected from sexual exploitation of any form. Additionally, the Commitment advocates for the effective institution of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by states so as to construct an environment in which the children are in a position to enjoy their rights (Broadhaurst, 2002). Government, as the case with Singapore, should promote guidelines for platforms and self-regulations that support reflective discussions between the government and industry players. Consequently and alongside other institutions that have been established to acquaint the nationals with the benefits linked with cyberspace, campaigns have been steered to impress upon safe online habits. The Singapore government has, for instance, established the industry-led government-supported organizations such as The National Infocomm Competency Centre (NICC), whose objective is to extend a helping hand to organizations and individuals and equip them to uphold a high level of information-communication (infocomm) technology competency (Laudon, 1995). Over and above this, the state government has overtime been in support of self-regulation of business and civic organizations that can later complement the public regulations in coping up with the increasing spread of both harmful and illegal information.
Notwithstanding the discussed merits of government role in ensuring internet privacy, it is equally important to highlight its downside. Despite the fact that governments have the instituted professional associations and licensing authorities, the same authorities and associations cannot warrant their practitioners to be ethical (Ang, 2001). At times, these professionals, caught in the world of their own, can be perceived as indifferent to practical problems. Moreover, by the virtue of association with an elite group, these professionals may to some extent be shielded from criticism and thus distance themselves from their immediate clients. The authorizing agencies may actually make an attempt of foisting their own views on the internet perpetrators. Such insularity particularly proves to be problematic in the international arena where such agencies are biased with culturally rooted assumptions. Government involvement in privacy on the internet may be of less consequence, especially in the event that the professionals whom the government has hired are pursuing their own interests. These professionals can form coalitions to defraud clients or even the government (Bynum, 2011).This can amount to a great loss to the individuals, organization, society, and the country as a whole.
Another conceivable challenge of government involvement in the internet privacy, especially on the arena of globalization, is sizable variations between organizations in different countries. This is a result of the organizations’ inherent differences in such areas as assets held, purpose, threats faced, tolerance to risks, and exposure to the public. For instance, the security objectives of a government organization handling its citizens’ individual data might be quite different from another government’s organization that does not (Bynum, 2011). Likewise, there are divergences in terms of security objectives for the organizations involved in the preparation and dissemination of information for public consumption and classified information for internal consumption. Owing to these, an organization’s security requirements and objectives ought to be factored in when it comes to decisions of outsourcing IT services, and more specifically, when it comes to transmitting the data and informational resources of the organization to the internet (Laudon, 1995).
While the changes and impacts coming with ICT are quite obvious, the issue of privacy involved is delicate. There is a great need to study the benefits and costs that are allied to ICT and ICT-based information systems so as to improve the citizens’ quality of life. From the above discussion, it can be concluded that governments have to take a proactive position on the issue of privacy on the internet. Besides, both ICT professionals and non-professionals ought to be accountable to the general public, and thus come up with an ethical approach and a professional outlook so as to preserve a reliable and safe information society. Governments remain accountable for the privacy and security on the internet and, as such, ought to see to it that an online-supported service is deployed, configured, and properly managed to ensure the privacy and security requirements of the individuals as well as organizations. The protection of such data also ought to be consistent with the set data and information policies.