New technologies provide people with enormous prospects and allow them to do several things in a more competent, opportune and expedient way. Simultaneously, they present people with harsh and difficult questions when we realize some of the ethical insinuations connected with the assorted technologies the world at present have or are probable to have at their disposal in the future. For instance, a New York Times online edition issued on 11 June 2006 disclosed that human resources managers are increasingly declining job applications because of material they found on them on social networking sites. However, one may appraise this development; it illustrates that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as social networking sites have ethical significance. There is a swarm of ethical concerns that are characteristically linked with ICTs. Well-known among them are subjects of privacy and data security (Carsten 2009).
This issue of privacy and data security is of grave concern, as it was witnessed in the case of Ashley hall. A 17-year-old girl, Ashleigh was found deceased in a trench. The scholar nursery nurse had left home telling her mother that she was to stay at a friend's house. She thought she was to meet a fellow boy of 16 whom she had made friends with on the social networking site, Facebook. Her body was discovered at the side of an isolated country road in Sedgefield, County Durham, known in the vicinity as a lovers' lane. According to Miss Hall (Ashley’s Mother), who also has a page on Facebook, stated her daughter was in her final year at college where she was studying child care and was looking forward to a profession as a nursery nurse.
Charged with the crime Peter Chapman led police to the girl's body. Peter Chapman, 32, is reported to have led police to Ashleigh's body after being captured by traffic officers. He appeared before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court charged with killing the teenager, kidnap and failing to notify the police of a change of address as all sex offenders are required to do. According to Miss Littler, a mother-of-one, (Chapman ex wife) also revealed how she was wooed by Chapman over Facebook - the same internet site he used to target Ashleigh.
The issue of privacy is very important in the information technology world. Someone claiming when a photo he placed on Facebook comes back to trouble him in his hunt for post-college employment should attest to this. The onset of news feed: where all information is displayed is the cause of all the ethical issues as pertain to Facebook. Secondly, by Facebook releasing Beacon which selects people within and into an advertising program while showing their activities on other sites devoid of their permission is another ground for privacy infringement and exposure to potential harm. It is evident (according to Miss Litler) that Chapman used Facebook as a tool to lure women for his own sexual pleasures. It was also stated in a website () that Miss littler and Ashley Hall resembled each other. From CSI laboratories of profiling, it is revealed that serial sexual offenders search for some specific qualities in an individual. This explains how he came to choose, Ashley. This issue of privacy come into place once more as presumably, Mr. Chapman saw Ashley’s picture on Facebook and thus chose her as a target.
The ethical issue in this case is the infringement of private data and privacy of Facebook users. When asked about this issue, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said that online privacy had been blown out of proportion. And yet people were being murdered, assaulted as result of Facebook. The expectation of Facebook and other online companies should be for them to hold to ethical standards when using information. There are ethical standards for using information. Much of them are supported off fair information traditions held to for many years in other industries. Facebook and other interactive corporations must notify an individual before it gathers information, it should give one the opportunity to decline consent to share and only use the information for the purpose in which it gathered it. It should also make certain that the above exist to defend an individual, not deny that privacy is not invaded.
Concentrating on the last responsibility, it should also make certain that the above exist to defend an individual, by disregarding measures to uphold this is in fact unethical though not illegal. As an online site, its first priority is to shield it clients from harm. Though not compelled to do so legally, it is ethically correct to improve on security within the site, including sieving potential threats such as serial rapists and other notorious groups.
As much it seems to be affecting First Amendment issues, being a private company does have the right to restrict speech or associations within it. The big question here regards to Facebook's ethical obligations; that is not if they have a legal obligation to remove these groups of people, but if they have an ethical obligation. To be able to comprehend these issues well, it is better to follow some question regarding ethical obligations. From a Utilitarian outlook, the case of Ashley Hall accounts for and highlights some likely harms of social networking. Facebook and other sites have been the landscape of cyber bullying and online predation. But the same technology permits people to bond with others they might never have met and form significant associations. How do we poise these harms and benefits, dropping one and escalating the option of the other? The options handed to Facebook in this case would be sieving individuals known to have records of gross misdemeanours and increasing security within the site.
Conversely, From a Rights viewpoint, do social networkers have a right to privacy? Users of Facebook are discovering that potential employers are scrutinizing their sites, in spite of the fact that they may visualize of their online existence as personal space. Also, what is a concealed person’s right to manage the images and information about them accessible on line? Laws intended to guard privacy in the outside world fight to tackle the problems raised by online communities. For instance, online publication of photo-graphs, which may be sensitive and informative, raises new confrontations in relation to permission. This also relates to, Particularly, Ashley Hall case, Where Chapman was able to use Ashley’s profile information to his gain. This is a dilemma in that the users of Facebook have no right to privacy at all.
From a Virtue outlook, many of the inter-individual virtues cherished are developed in the perspective of face-to-face communication (Herman, 2009). Sincerity, frankness, and endurance, for instance, are sharpened in the negotiations one must control when s/he meet people in person. What impact does Facebook have on these virtues? What, for instance, would sincerity mean in the perspective of a world where people are symbolized by avatars? Will other qualities appear as more significant in social networking, where we can be continuously linked to a large pool of others and can shut off communications simply when bored or encounter problems? This may seem trivial but they pose an ethical threat to users all over the world.
The issue of a person’s right to privacy has forever been extremely appreciated in the U. S. This is partly owing to the reality that the outcomes for casualties of privacy infringements can be devastating, ranging from insensitive rumours to character theft and even damaged credit ratings to death, serial killers. As most incursions of privacy are prudent, of petite substance value, and apparently do little harm outside added junk mail, such imprudence by now bother the wits of Americans and people ubiquitously. The arrival of the Internet and a tracking tool, cookies, (Chiu ,2000)brought about an innumerable of supportive instruments and reserves, from fundamental stores to online medical libraries, in addition to a swarm of privacy concerns that linger unsettled. Internet privacy is an imperative ethical issue because most associations engaging in e-commerce or social networking have not yet developed policies and codes of behaviour to promote conscientious behaviour.
This is why in order to improve on privacy; better internal monitoring system should be implemented within the frame work of Facebook to allow for reduced perusing of one’s information by anyone in Facebook. Or if Facebook is adamant, it can keep the current system but use police data to lock out potential threats from the site.
1. What is going on?
The blame is directed to lack of proper privacy and data security of facebook
Facebook denies there is no online privacy breach
2. What are the issues?
Internet privacy is vague and limited in Facebook
Murder of Ashley by Peter Chapman
Facebook allows Chapman to use Facebook to lure victims to him
3. Who is affected?
Ashley and family
4. What are the ethical issues and implications?
From a Utilitarian outlook, the case of Ashley Hall accounts for and highlights some likely harms of social networking.
From a Rights viewpoint, do social networkers have a right to privacy?
5. What options are there?
Better internal monitoring system should be implemented within the frame work of Facebook.
It can keep the current system but use police data to lock out potential threats from the site.
6. Which option is the best – and why?
The second one, It is more efficient and can reduce cyber bullying and predators easily.
Carsten, B. S. (2009). Current trends in nanotechnology, ICT, privacy and security UK; De Montfort University
Chiu A. S. (2000).The Ethics of Internet Privacy New York: Routledge.
Herman T. (2009) ICT ethics bibliography: San Francisco: Kids Watch Monthly
New York Times online edition issued on 11 June 2006