Ethics is defined as a system of moral principles that define how people live and make decisions for their own good and the good of the wider society. Basically ethics constitutes elements such as our rights and responsibilities towards others, living a good life, moral decisions among others. Peter, S (1985) Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago, pp. 627-648, defines it as the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. In the briskly changing technological environment, ethical issues are bound to arise as more people embrace technology .Issues such as data security and privacy of people’s information are quite common.
Ethical concerns in the ICT filed are concerned with the safeguarding of people’s privacy, appropriate use of other peoples information and protection of their intellectual property. An IT Professional should at all costs be ready and willing to deal with these among other ethical issues at all costs and should put in place all considerations to ensure that these are not violated. Ethical in IT is about “rights” and “duties” (Kallman and Grillo, 1996).
Intellectual property is defined as the creation of the mind by individuals such as new inventions and in which protection against unauthorized copying or stealing is assigned .Ownership monopoly is granted to these people by law. Using other people’s intellectual property without crediting them is a serious offence that can attract heavy penalty.
As identified in case study one failure to acknowledge other peoples intellectual property is a serious ethical issue .This report therefore, apart from identifying the concerned ethical issue seeks to analyze and describe the argument made in case study number one.
Doing ethics technique helps a person to think ethically as afar as analyzing a given situation is concerned. The technique helps individuals to analyze the identified situation systematically to arrive at the best solution per the available options. However accuracy is not guaranteed while using the technique.
Jean who is a statistical programmer has been requested to come up with a program by the company. However the exercise be comes and she encounters a number of challenges in the process. She is stuck in several parts and time is running out so she risks not meeting the deadline. The manager is on her neck and wants her to submit the work in a few days’ time. She has no idea of how she can handle these problems, however she remembers a list of sources from a co- workers work and from a commercial software developed by another company sometimes back and decides to incorporate segments of code from both of them into her own work without any sort of acknowledgement.
The fact her is that Jean violated of intellectual property ethical obligations. Regarding intellectual property ethics, there are three areas that are considered. They include patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. Patents which are grants from the government are the commonly used. They give exclusive right for making using and selling a product for a given number of years
On the other hand, copyrights protects written materials such as books, journals and other pieces of written works including music and songs .This recognizes what is written or verbally communicated as belonging to particular individual or individuals and not a multitude of people.
However the above case study is concerned with concerned with copyright issues which were violated by Jean in coming up with his own program. By incorporating other people’s ideas within his own program and failing to credit the sources, jean committed a serious offence that was punishable under any law. This was a violation of the ethical obligation needed to be observed by IT professionals in their work. Under any circumstances, a person is not allowed to use other people’s intellectual property as their own. Where it becomes unavoidable to use other people’s intellectual property, the sources should be adequately credited. The main issue brought out by the by the case study is violation of intellectual property rights which roots for exclusive ownership of such rights by their inventors. The other issue if failure to accredit source listings for the codes used in the program.
A number of people and institutions have been affected by the scenario identified in the case study. The first to be affected in this case are the company responsible for the creation of the commercial software and the co-worker .For the two, their rights have been violated which is a serious breach of ownership right guaranteed by the Law. Additionally, the company that Jean worked for is also affected because the offence committed by Jean can lead to legal Suits against the company as a whole. This has the possibility of financial losses through compensations awarded to the offended, in this case the co-worker and the other company. This is also likely to have negative impact on the reputation of the company. And may lead to loss of current and potential clients. Clients using the company’s programs will also be affected because they can also been accused of using counterfeit programs.
The program should heavily scrutinized to know how authentic it is. The company can then either seek the services of a law professional in order to know how to go about the situation or additionally, the company can result to withdrawing the use of the program and give Jean more time to come up with a clean program if it is possible for him to. If it’s not possible for him to do that, the company can request the services of another employee to be safe from all the repercussions that may arise.
A heavy penalty can also be issued to Jean so that such a scenario does not happen in future because that is risky for the company.
Scrutinizing means to closely examine or thoroughly inspect something. Scrutiny is done with a certain aim of achieving something. For this case, scrutiny will be necessary to identify the authenticity and usability of the program. The company can use experts to conduct this exercise so that any arising issue is solved before the program is released into the market. Scrutinizing can therefore help in provision of timely solutions through modification of the program.
Legal practitioners are widely believed to have a great deal of legal expertise as far as business is concerned. Because it might be time consuming to start all over again, legal advice can be sought to find how the company can be able to handle the situation so that they do not encounter any legal hurdles in the process of using the program.
This means doing away with the program as a whole. Although this costly for the company, it can decide to do away with the use of the program altogether and perhaps start all over again to develop another program. This not only saves the image of the company and protects its reputation but it also keeps the company away from legal battles that would have come up if the program is used.
Among the above alternatives, the best option can be seeking legal services. This is because, such a move will enable the company to identify and deal with all loopholes that would make the company prone to legal suits. Besides, it would also ensure that time is minimized because the exercise would not consume so much time. Additionally, costs will be considerably saved because despite the fact that the company would incur legal services costs it cannot be compared to starting the project all over again.
Just like any other profession the ICT profession has its code of conduct that guide the operation of ict personnel. It’s basically a guide to help them conduct their business ethically .Because the ict practice has many bodies dealing with the different groups there are many ethical issues that each body addresses. Among the ethics addressed the ICT professionals are required to uphold privacy and confidentiality of their clients, go about their business with integrity and professionalism, be honest about their personal capabilities, the professional is also required to demonstrate a high degree of information and skills among other Ethical codes.
ASC code of ethics is a professional code set by the Australian Computer society which guides the operations of its members .It requires that each member of the society shall abide by the code as part of their regulations. According to this code of professional conduct, there are a number of professional values that should be observed by the ICT professionals. These values include professionalism, honesty, professional development, competence, enhancement of quality of life primacy of the public interest. The professionals are also required to conduct themselves with integrity and be responsible for their actions.
This professional code of conduct requires that a member of the society enhances the integrity of the society and respect of its members. Professionalism requires that a professional demonstrates a professional character and standards in their operations. As far as the case by Jean is concerned there is every reason to conclude that he did not portray professionalism in his conduct. Despite the fact that each profession has its guiding code of conduct Jean failed totally to adhere to the professional conduct hence his actions were not in line with the ASC values. As a matter of fact his decision to use another company’s intellectual property without acknowledgement of source listings. It was also not inline for him to use co-workers intellectual property without their consent.
Honesty refers to the quality of always telling the truth and never stealing or cheating. As per the ASC Code of ethics, a member of the society is required to be honest in the representation of their skills, knowledge as well as services and products. This means that the information issued concerning these by each member of the society should be nothing but the truth.an ICT professional is therefore not required to deceive his or her clients, his bosses or his co-workers but should be as honest as possible in their conduct. The conduct by jean also failed to conform to the requirements of the ASC code of ethics. First of all he failed to be honest with the manager regarding his ability to complete the program in time. He also failed to be honest with the company that owned the commercial software by using segments of code from both her co-worker and the commercial software into her own software and failing to credit them.
Competence means the quality of an individual to have the necessary knowledge to do something satisfactorily and as per the set standards. The ASC competence ethical code requires that a member of the society works completely and diligently for their stakeholders. This means that as a professional one should not tire of performing their duties hence resulting to shortcuts in order for them to have an easier easy out .consequently they should perform their duties satisfactorily without leaving any components unattended to or leaving out some details. This is quality that was clearly not in Jean.in such as situation that she was in, she should take her time, thought about the whole thing, engaged her mind adequately or sought help from colleagues and this could have worked for her. However her decision to result to short cuts. Puts questions into her competence as an ICT professional.
Development means the process of moving from one state to another more improved state. Professional development therefore means the act of growing professionally. The ASC professional development code requires that a member of the society will enhance their own professional development and that of their colleagues. Consultations can be a way of enhancing the growth of colleagues as it gets them thinking. Personal development can also be enhanced by doing adequate research and persevering in case of challenging tasks. By failing to consult, Jean was not fostering the growth of his colleagues professionally. Consequently, by failing to take his time to do his research adequately and provide a clean program, he was also hindering his own professional development because he was bound to learn in the course of research. This also would have opened avenues for him to be assigned future related tasks which would further enable him to grow professionally.
The public is the greatest shareholder in any business venture .For any action taken by the business, the public is the one that is likely to feel the effect. Public encompasses of individual clients to the organizations, other corporations as well as government and legal entities. This means that the business is responsible for the protection of the interests of these interests. The ASC primacy of the Public interest code requires that each member of the society places the interest of the public above those of personal, business or sectional interests. As clearly indicated its public interest above all other interests. The conduct of Jean was not in line with this code as well. She was guided by her own interests of completing the task within the time frame hence she ended up violating the intellectual right property right of another organization as well as his own colleague. This is also against the legal public expectation that such rights are not violated but are protected for the sake of their owners.
In conclusion therefore, both techniques have been clearly brought out in the case study. As per the doing ethics technique, there ethical issues that have emanated from the case study. These have been supported by clearly identifiable facts as the technique requires .The action by Jean is also likely to affect a number of players in the industry and this further support this this technique.
The paper has also addressed ACS values which have also been clearly identified and addressed .In this case however, the values have been identified as having been violated which is against the requirements set by ACS code of ethics .Values such as honesty, competence, professionalism have been identified as playing a critical role in the ICT field. Because of these violations implications have also been identified which include possible law suits because of violation of the intellectual property laws besides loss of trust by the company in Jean. This also in line with the doing ethics technique. As per the technique possible ways to go about the situation have also been identified.
As an ICT professional I would highly recommend that any person in the ICT field upholds all the values that are required under the profession so that they can safeguard the reputation of the practice besides avoiding issues that may arise in case of violations such as those witnessed in the case addressed by this paper. Professionals should also open up concerning the difficulties that they may be facing with regarding the assigned tasks so that they can get help instead of keeping their problems to themselves and at the end of it messing up everything.
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