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3 apollock 1.3
4     <!--
5     I declare that, except where appropriately attributed, the content of the file
6     I have submitted for this assignment is entirely my own work. It has not been
7     produced, in whole or in part, by another person. (signed) Andrew Pollock
8     -->
9 apollock 1.1 <HTML>
11     <HEAD>
12     <TITLE>Professional ethics and Information Technology</TITLE>
13     <META name="Author" content="Andrew Pollock">
14 apollock 1.3 <META name="Student Number" content="4137129">
15     <META name="Lab Group" content="">
16 apollock 1.1 </HEAD>
18     <BODY bgcolor="white">
19     <H1>Professional ethics and Information Technology</H1>
21     <H2>Introduction</H2>
22     <P>
23     This essay discusses the principles of ethics, both in their specific
24     application to the Information Technology profession, and to their
25     more general application to professional disciplines. In particular
26     the Codes of Ethics of the <EM>Australian Computer Society</EM> (ACS),
27     <EM>Association for Computing Machinery</EM> (ACM), and the
28     <EM>Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers</EM> (IEEE) are
29 apollock 1.3 examined. The <EM>Australian National University</EM> (ANU) code
30 apollock 1.1 <EM>Academic Honesty in Learning and Teaching</EM> is also examined to
31     highlight similarities between issues raised and those raised by the
32 apollock 1.3 above-mentioned professional societies. Finally, two real-world
33 apollock 1.1 scenarios will be presented and discussed within the context of
34     professional ethics.
35     </P>
37     <H2>Generic principles</H2>
38     <P>
39     There are a number of generic principles common to the various Codes
40 apollock 1.3 of Ethics of the professional societies examined. These principles are
41     not necessarily specific to the field of Information Technology, but
42     may relevant to many professional disciplines.
43 apollock 1.1 </P>
44 apollock 1.2
45     <P>
46     <DL>
47 apollock 1.3 <DT><STRONG>Essential moral behaviour</STRONG></DT>
48 apollock 1.2 <DD>
49 apollock 1.3 <P>
50     The various Codes of Ethics all contain directives regarding
51     what one could consider basic moral behaviour. Values such as
52     honesty, integrity, are all specifically referred to. Actions
53     must also be in the public or community interest, which means
54     that members of the various societies should take the wider
55     social implications of their actions into consideration.
56     </P>
58     <P>
59     This is the core of what makes the Code of Ethics a Code of
60     Ethics. Basic ethical behaviour is defined in ACS Code of
61     Ethics in section 4.1. This section specifically mentions the
62     profession of Information Technology, however there is
63     nothing IT specific in the rest of this item, so it could be
64     interchangeable with the medical profession, for example.
65     </P>
67     <P>
68     Similarly, the ACM breaks it's Code of Ethics down into three
69     broad categories. The first, General Moral Imperatives, could
70     equally apply to most other professions. The sections
71     relating to intellectual property are vaguely more IT
72     centric, however are still relevant to other professions that
73     might involve either personal or contracted creativity.
74     </P>
75 apollock 1.2 </DD>
77     <DT><STRONG>Competence</STRONG></DT>
78     <DD>
79 apollock 1.3 <P>
80     All the Codes of Conduct and Ethics highly value competence.
81     This is important, as incompetent workmanship can have a poor
82     reflection on the profession in general, regardless of what
83     that profession is.
84     </P>
86     <P>
87     This is closely related to ongoing professional development,
88     which is discussed next. Competence is an intangible, and as
89     such difficult to guage in an individual. It is really up to
90     the individual to have some sense of self-assessment when it
91     comes to particular work.
92     </P>
93 apollock 1.2 </DD>
95     <DT><STRONG>Professional Development</STRONG></DT>
96     <DD>
97 apollock 1.3 <P>
98     For the same reasons as competence, ongoing professional
99     development is of paramount importance. All the societies
100     Codes reviewed specifically mention ongoing personal
101     development, as well as assisting fellow members to further
102     their development.
103     </P>
105     <P>
106     This is a significant point of all the Codes of Ethics. There
107     is little value in being a member of such a professional
108     society if it does not encourage it's members to further
109     themselves, as professional development is something that
110     should never cease. It is also important to note that the
111     Codes state that members should encourage and support each
112     other in their personal development.
113     </P>
114 apollock 1.2 </DD>
116     <DT><STRONG>Fairness, equality and objectivity</STRONG></DT>
117     <DD>
118 apollock 1.3 <P>
119     All of the societies Codes examined specifically refer to
120     conducting oneself in an indiscriminate manner. The ACS
121     <EM>Code of Professional Conduct and Professional
122     Practice</EM> states: <BLOCKQUOTE>Be objective, impartial and
123     free of conflicts of interest in the performance of your
124     professional duties.</BLOCKQUOTE> The ACM specifically states
125     that equality, tolerance and respect for others are important
126     and that violations of this policy will not be tolerated, in
127     their Code of Ethics. The IEEE's Code of Ethics also states
128     that members agree to <BLOCKQUOTE>treat fairly all persons
129     regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender,
130     disability, age or national origin.</BLOCKQUOTE>
131     </P>
132     </DD>
134     <DT><STRONG>Promotion of the profession</STRONG></DT>
135     <DD>
136     <P>
137     Again, one could substitute the name of the profession for
138     any other, however, the ACS Code of Ethics and Code of
139     Professional Conduct specifically mention promoting and
140     protecting the image, and professionalism of Information
141     Technology and the society in general.
142     </P>
144     <P>
145     Naturally, any professional society is going to be an
146     advocacy body for that profession. One would expect to find
147     such promotion clauses in any professional society's Code of
148     Ethics.
149     </P>
150 apollock 1.2 </DD>
151     </DL>
152     </P>
154     <H2>Principles specific to Information Technology</H2>
155     <P>
156     There are a number of other principles stated in the various Codes of
157     Conduct that are more specific to the field of Information Technology,
158     because of the technical nature of the profession, or because they
159     relate to technological ethical issues.
160     </P>
162     <P>
163     <DL>
164     <DT><STRONG>Intellectual Property</STRONG></DT>
165     <DD>
166 apollock 1.3 <P>
167     Whilst not strictly related to Information Technology, this
168     is certainly an issue that crops up more often within this
169     field. The ACM Code of Ethics states that property rights
170     including copyrights and patents should be honoured, and
171     proper credit should be given for intellectual property. The
172     IEEE Code of Ethics states that members should credit
173     properly the contributions of others.
174     </P>
176     <P>
177     Interestingly, neither the ACS Code of Ethics or Code of
178     Professional Conduct and Professional Practice makes a
179     reference to "Intellectual Property", but the latter does
180     state that information is the property of the client, and
181     must not be distributed freely. One could argue that this
182     covered under the section 4.7 of the ACS Code of Ethics
183     (Honesty), whereby section 4.7.6 states <BLOCKQUOTE>I must
184     give credit for work done by others where credit is
185     due</BLOCKQUOTE> however, it could be argued successfully
186     that this is not specific enough to the area of intellectual
187     property and copyright, not prescriptive enough about when
188     "credit is due".
189     </P>
190 apollock 1.2 </DD>
192 apollock 1.3 <DT><STRONG>Authorised access to computing resources</STRONG></DT>
193 apollock 1.2 <DD>
194 apollock 1.3 <P>
195     The ACM Code of Conduct specifically mentions "trespassing
196     and unauthorised use of a computer or communication system".
197     It goes on to say that individuals have the right to restrict
198     access insofar as it does not discriminate unethically (as
199     discussed earlier).
200     </P>
201 apollock 1.2 </DD>
203 apollock 1.3 <DT><STRONG>Evaluating computer systems</STRONG></DT>
204 apollock 1.2 <DD>
205 apollock 1.3 <P>
206     The ACM Code of Ethics has section 2.5 of their More Specific
207     Professional Responsibilities, which states members must
208     <BLOCKQUOTE>give comprehensive and thorough evaluations of
209     computer systems and their impacts, including analysis of
210     possible risks</BLOCKQUOTE> and goes on to state that
211     computer professionals must be perceptive, thorough and
212     objective when making evaluations, recommendations and
213     presentations of system descriptions and alternatives. This
214     is relevant to the profession of IT, because IT professionals
215     tend to have their technical opinions viewed highly, as they
216     are considered subject-matter experts.
217     </P>
218 apollock 1.2 </DD>
219     </DL>
220     </P>
222     <H2>Similarities to ANU code</H2>
224     <P>
225     Whilst having nothing specifically to do with Information Technology,
226     The ANU code on <EM>Academic Honesty in Learning and Teaching</EM> has
227 apollock 1.3 a some common points to those raised in the Codes of Conduct for the
228     various professional societies examined.
229 apollock 1.2 </P>
231     <P>
232     The most significant common point is of course the moral value of
233 apollock 1.3 being honest. This ANU code of practice defines academic honesty, and
234     also goes on to discuss originality and plagiarism. This is identical
235     in spirit to the intellectual property clause of the Codes of Ethics
236     for the ACM, and the statement of "giving credit where credit is
237     due" by the ACS, and properly crediting the contributions of others
238     in the IEEE's Code of Ethics.
239 apollock 1.2 </P>
241     <P>
242     The ANU code also defines the roles and responsibilities of various
243     levels of academics within the University, similar to how the various
244 apollock 1.3 societies Codes state that members should assist other members to
245 apollock 1.2 further themselves to be better members. Similarly, University
246 apollock 1.3 academics should provide guidance to students in matters of academic
247     honesty.
248 apollock 1.2 </P>
250     <H2>Case studies</H2>
252     <P>
253     In conclusion two case studies will be discussed. The first, one is a
254     hypothetical ANU student who attained an IT degree with a lot of
255     assistance from his/her friends, doing a lot of collaboration on
256     assignment work, and getting good marks for them, but average marks
257     for examinations. This student then attains employment somewhere in
258     Canberra.
259     </P>
261     <P>
262     The second example is an employee working on a application project. He
263     gets a brilliant idea outside of the scope of the existing project
264     that he believes will make an improvement to this application, and
265     other related applications. The contract he has signed states that the
266     work carried out on the project belongs to this organisation he is
267     working for.
268     </P>
270 apollock 1.3 <H3>Case study 1: The average student who had a lot of help from his friends</H3>
271 apollock 1.2
272     <P>
273     The negative consequence of this scenario is that this student has
274     attained an IT degree that isn't necessarily indicative of his/her own
275     abilities. This is most likely going to become evident when the
276     employee is unable to conduct themselves competently in their field of
277 apollock 1.3 employment. The possible victims of this negative scenario are both
278     the student/employee and the organisation employing him/her.
279 apollock 1.2 </P>
281     <P>
282     Eventually it is going to come to the point where the employee has to
283     gain sufficient competence to carry out his/her employment, or the
284     employer has to cease employing the student, due to their
285     incompetence. This ultimately boils down to misrepresentation, in that
286     the student didn't accurately represent their competence to the
287     employer in the first place.
288     </P>
290     <P>
291     The negative repercussions could be more significant depending on the
292     nature of the employment of the student. If the student was engaged in
293     a role that may have a direct impact on the public, this incompetence
294     could, in the worst case, directly impact on other peoples lives.
295     </P>
297 apollock 1.3 <H3>Case study 2: The employee with the work-related brilliant idea</H3>
298 apollock 1.2
299     <P>
300     In the case of the employee with the brilliant idea, if it is just an
301     idea, the organisation he works for cannot readily claim ownership of
302     it. If the employee develops anything on company time or resources,
303     based on that idea, then it rightly becomes property of the
304     organisation. If this is the case, and the employee wishes to take the
305     idea outside of the organisation, the only ethical thing to do would
306 apollock 1.3 be to seek permission from the employer to do so. Anything less would
307 apollock 1.2 constitute theft of the organisation's intellectual property.
308     </P>
309 apollock 1.3
310     <H2>Bibliography</H2>
311 apollock 1.1 </BODY>
313     </HTML>

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