Chapter 4 ITM – Social Ethical and Legal Issues in a Digital Firm
What ethical, social, and political issues are raised by information systems?
Information technology is introducing changes for which laws and rules of
acceptable conduct have not yet been developed. Increasing computing power,
storage, and networking capabilities—including the Internet— expand the reach of
individual and organizational actions and magnify their impacts. The ease and
anonymity with which information is now communicated, copied, and manipulated
in online environments pose new challenges to the protection of privacy and
intellectual property. The main ethical, social, and political issues raised by
information systems center around information rights and obligations, property
rights and obligations, accountability and control, system quality, and quality of life.
Recent Examples of failed ethical judgment by managers
Government of Canada – Sponsorship Scandal, wherein the government apparently
paid favoured marketing firms for services that were not needed/ provided
Enron – Top three executives convicted for misstating earnings using illegal
accounting schemes and making false representations to shareholders.
Five Moral Dimensions of Information Age
Information rights and obligations. What information rights do individuals and
organizations possess with respect to themselves? What do they protect?
Property Rights and obligations. How will traditional intellectual property rights be
protected in a digital society in which tracing/accounting for ownership are difficult
Accountability and control. Who can and will be held accountable/liable for harm
System Quality. What standards of data and system quality should we demand to
protect individual rights
Quality of Life. What values should be preserved in an info. And knowledge based
Advances in data storage techniques and rapidly declining storage costs have been
responsible for the growing databases on individuals- employees, customers and
potential customers- maintained by private/public organizations. The advances
have been made the routine violation of individual privacy both cheap and
effectively. Profiling- The use of computers to combine data from multiple sources and create
electronic dossiers of detailed info on individuals.
NORA – (nonobvious relationship awareness) – new data analysis technology given
both the government and private sectore more powerful profiling capabilities.
Human Resource Systems }
Telephone Records }
Customer Transaction Systems } NORA
Incident and Arrest Systems }