Since the introduction of computers, human lives have been improved tremendously. Computers and computerized systems have become part of the human lives. They are used in everyday day, in almost all the industries and wings of life. The government and private sectors have endorsed the use of computers and computerized systems in all their operations. The good thing about this is that their works have been made more efficient and faster. Human labor has even been replaced in some industries by the computers and computerized systems. The performance of the employees is even monitored through computerized systems which is much better than the traditional methods that the employers used. Problem with this is that the privacy of the employees and everybody using computers and computerized systems is compromised. Apart from the troubles that people had of systems breaking down and the cause of other damages, privacy reasons have topped the charts in the recent since computer can store, manipulate and even transmit data at high speed. As experts systems were introduced, the issues of privacy and other problems such as technical and legal issues became rapid. The debates have sparked ethical issues among computer and IT industries. The most common theories regarding ethics are utilitarism theory, ethical relativism and deontologism, also referred to as Kantianism.
One of the issues that have been faced is computer crime. In her book, Casey describes computer crime as actions that include theft of computer services and unauthorized access to protected computers among many others. These offenses are limited and are defined in most laws such as Abuse Act and the U.K. Computer Abuse Act (Casey 50). With the technology advancement in the recent years, the rate of computer crime has increased. Computers have also increased the opportunities for computer crimes (Forester 33). As much as people have disputed that computer crimes cannot take place without a computer, it has been agreed on that a computer crime is an act that has used a computer as an object, an instrument or a subject. It has been argued that computer crimes should include cases where organizations abuse their customers. All these computer crimes have let to the debate on ethics in the industry. As much as there has been debating on the sort of punishment that computer criminals should receive, it can be agreed that computer crimes are just practical and empirical. Whether the computer crime committed is a fraud or theft, it does not really matter, since the two are considered as being wrong morally. But it can be agreed that the crime can be determined as being a real crime considering a number of ethical issues. If the fraud or the crime has caused happiness in the lives of some people, it can really not be termed as a crime. This can be proved by following the principle of utalitirism. The principle of utalitirism states that every act of human beings should be directed towards achieving happiness for everyone (Forester 38). One of the main aims of humans is to achieve happiness in their lives, and if the computer crime or fraud can achieve happiness, then it cannot be termed as a crime at all. The individual behind all of it should not be charged for any crime. This can be backed up by the ethical relativism principle which states that the universe has no moral norms and due to this, people should not be tied down to what is claimed to be right or wrong. The definition of right or wrong is just relative since there are different cultures in the world and they all hold different definitions of what is right and what is wrong.
As much as these principles can be used to attest to the fact that some of these crimes and frauds are of greater good, other crimes can really not be supported by these principles. One of the crimes that have risen due to computer crimes is identity theft. According to Easttom, identity theft is can be described as the process through which an individual obtains personal information of another individual. Most of the identity theft is done so as obtain credit using the victim’s identity. The victim I usually left to suffer with a pool of debts to pay (Easttom 51). The principle of utalitirism cannot apply in this factor considering the fact that one of the party’s happiness is not achieved. It is clear that the principle of utalitirism aims at ensuring every individual is happy. In identity theft, one of the parties is left unhappy as they are left with debts to service; debts that they did not acquire out of their own accord. When the principle of relativism is applied, it can also be either as a crime. In most cultures, theft of any sort is not encouraged. Most cultures view any kind of theft as a criminal offence that needs to be punished. Apart from these two, another principle that we can put into consideration is the principle of deontologism. The principle states that an action can only be right or wrong in itself (Forester 39). The principle disregards motives or consequences of an act and supports the intrinsic character of the action. Even the motive behind the identity theft was one of good will, when the principle of deontologism is followed, then one will be considered a criminal.
If I was to build expert systems, some of the values that I would consider would be ensuring that the system upholds integrity. Many values are entailed in the code of ethics and integrity would be used to sum them all up. Some of these values include upholding confidentiality and respecting the privacy of other (Stamatellos 47). Sometime programmers and computer people may come up with codes and programs that may tamper with the privacy of other individuals, and through the code of ethics, it is said to be illegal, or a crime for that matter. Sometimes it is better if such programs and codes are hid from the public to avoid undesired outcomes. The act of hiding or even destroying the program or the code cannot be really ruled out as an ethical crime. When most of the principles discussed above are used, the act can be ruled out as being legal. When the principle of ethical relativism is followed, the act can also be argued to be genuine, or not a crime at all. Many cultures might be against the plunging into other people’s private lives and the rules of confidentiality. When the rules are broken, then one can be termed as a criminal. But when one tries to hide the truth from the public by conceiling such code or programs, then it cannot be termed as a criminal offense as they are abiding by the code of ethics that requires them to uphold privacy and confidentiality.
the principle of deontologism is followed in computer crime, the individual can be ruled as being illegal since the character of the act itself is bad. But the principle of utalitirism can be used to rule the act not being against the code of ethics. The reason for this is that getting rid of the program or the code will lead to consequences that are for the greater good of all people, happiness. If the code or the program is discovered, it can cause much havoc since people will be disturbed on the level of spying or how their private lives can be turned upside down. When the program is hid, people are spared from the headache of being worried about their lives and their acts and through this, they are happy. Happiness is the ultimate aim of utilititarism principle and if it achieved through a little white lie, then it is worth.
Casey, Eoghan. Digital evidence and computer crime forensic science, computers and the
Internet. 3rd ed. London: Academic Press, 2011. Print.
Easttom, Chuck, and Jeffrey Taylor. Computer crime, investigation, and the law. Boston, Mass.:
Forester, Tom, and Perry Morrison. Computer ethics cautionary tales and ethical dilemmas in
computing. Cambridge, Mass: Massachusetts Institute of Techonology, 1990. Print.
Stamatellos, Giannis. Computer ethics: a global perspective. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett
Publishers, 2007. Print.