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As information system use becomes more widespread and more individuals and organizations rely on the internet as a means of conducting business, it becomes ever more important to assure that the internet is a place where privacy is protected.
Additionally, as organizations rely more on information systems, they become vulnerable to attacks on these precious technologies. These are just some of the ethical issues professionals face when dealing with information systems and emerging technologies. Although often overlooked, ethical decision-making is an important issue for all organizations and individuals in the arena of information technologies. In order to better understand the ethical dilemmas facing professionals and private citizens and appreciate their consequences, researchers, practitioners and academics must have access to the latest thinking and practice concerning ethics and information systems().
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Problem of the Research
In recent years, the Management Information Systems has seen a great technological revolution in terms of software used, and the nature of dealing with this software and its mechanisms and employment in the service of various administrative actions, what make necessary to increase supervision over the work of this software, whether self-censorship stemming from the persons themselves or by the direct administrative control.
Importance of the Research
The importance of this research come from the growing importance of the role of management information systems in management, whether public or private, as well as the significant rise in depending on the new software and development it daily for the development of management information systems work. Also the importance of this research come from the necessity of ethical controls governing how to deal with this software and development to appropriate the needs of various administrative and prevent the inappropriate or bad use of the software, or use techniques that are in violation of the ethics of information systems.
Purpose of the Research
This research aims to discuss the role of ethics in management information systems, by discussing the main features of ethics in information systems, and management information systems, and how the ethical behavior may improve the ways we use the management information systems, And thus increase the efficiency of administrative work, which relies on these systems.
Questions of the Research
This research trying to find the answer to the following questions:
What are ethics?
What are business ethics?
What the role of ethics in Information Systems in general?
What the main features of using ethics issues in information systems?
How Management Information Systems should deal with ethics?
What are Ethics? What are business Ethics?
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the determination of what is right or wrong, good or bad. To behave ethically is to live one’s life in accordance with a set of ethical principles, which are based, ultimately, on moral values. Over the centuries, philosophers have proposed many competing theories of ethical conduct. Some philosophers believe that ethical behavior must be grounded in absolute moral principles, such as “Behave towards others as you want them to behave toward you.” Others believe that ethical behaviors are required because they lead to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Still others believe that ethics must be founded in religious values().
The word ethics is derived from the Greek root ethos, meaning character. Ethics is a suite of guiding beliefs, standards, or ideals that pervades an individual or a group or community of people. All individuals are accountable to their community for their behavior. The community can exist in such forms as a city, state, nation, or profession. Unlike morals, ethics can vary considerably from one community to another().
A glance at the dictionary indicates that ethics deal with “what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation”, some researchers point out that three interrelated meanings are usually associated with the term “ethics”. The first focuses on fundamental principles of moral behavior that should apply, at least in theory, to everyone. The second refers to principles of conduct developed by, and for, members of a particular profession. The third involves the systematic study of the beliefs people hold, and the behaviors they exhibit, relevant to morality().
Given these definitions of ethics, it might appear that the distinction between what is and what is not an ethical issue should be pretty clear-cut. That is, ethical problems deal with matters of moral account ability related to “doing the right (good) things” ‘or “doing the wrong (bad) thing”, while non ethical problems are ones where this dimension is not relevant().
Normative ethics provide the philosophical basis for establishing principles that are morally correct. As there is no universally accepted philosophical
base, ethics are often measured by many conflicting standards. Most people
seem to fit the ethical principle to a particular situation. Therefore, to be meaningfully applied to the business environment, a general definition
of practical ethics must be flexible. Lewis (1985) offered a definition of business ethics stated that: “Business ethics is moral rules, standards, codes, or principles which provide guidelines for right and truthful behavior in specific situations”. According to this definition, ethical codes are more than a tool to support ethical behavior; they are fundamental to the definition of ethics().
Despite an explosion of interest in business ethics, there is no universally accepted definition. According to Taylor (1975), ethics may be defined as
“inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where the term morality is taken to mean moral judgments, standards, and rules of conduct.” Thus,
business ethics refers to inquiry into the nature and grounds of moral judgments, standards and rules of conduct in situations involving business decisions. Arlow and Ulrich (1980) suggested that ethical situations in business, as compared to ethical situations in general, involve greater complexities and have some unique properties. These complexities might include things such as societal expectations, fair competition and social responsibilities, whereas the unique properties of business ethics might
include all of the potential consequences of an individual’s actions on others, including customers, employees and competitors. Thus, within a business context ethical conflict is virtually inherent since the individual decision maker has responsibilities and duties to various diverse groups whose interests are often inconsistent. Included among these groups is the individual’s own self interest as well().
Ethics and Information Systems
Ethics represent basic societal values, and assume that our society functions on trust. We trust that others will fulfill commitments they make with us. As ethical behavior engenders trust, unethical behavior destroys it. Technology of some type has always been used to control the content and flow of information, but the technology itself is ethically neutral. It is critical for information systems professionals to understand this concept and realize that it is the users of the technology who make the ethical decisions. The notion of the computer or information system in the back room, unseen and unaffected by other activities in the firm, is becoming outdated. When information systems personnel engage in unethical behavior, the entire organization suffers. Increasing scrutiny of these operations by both management and outside parties will make it difficult to hide behind comments such as: “Our job is to ensure the integrity of the data. Use of the data is not our job”().
For firms to operate ethically, there must be a climate conducive to ethical behavior in the society. Former IBM Chairman John Akers stated: “Ethics
and competitiveness are inseparable. We compete as a society. No society anywhere will compete very long or successfully with people stabbing each other in the back… There is no escaping this fact: The greater the measure of mutual trust and confidence in the ethics of a society, the greater its economic strength” (Grier 1991). An ethically conducive environment is created by the people in the environment. If the people of a society expect firms to act ethically, they must act ethically().
Ethics is required in information Systems to overcome the following ethical issues():
Privacy: What information about one’s self or one’s associations must a person reveal to others, under what conditions and with what safeguards? What things can people keep to themselves and not be forced to reveal to others?
Accuracy: Who is responsible for the authenticity, fidelity and accuracy of information? Similarly, who is to be held accountable for errors in information and how is the injured party to be made whole?
Property: Who owns information? What are the just and fair prices for its exchange? Who owns the channels, especially the airways, through which information is transmitted? How should access to this scarce resource be allocated?
Accessibility: What information does a person or an organization have a right or a privilege to obtain, under what conditions and with what safeguards?
Information System ethics explores and evaluates():
â€¢ the development of moral values in the information field,
â€¢ the creation of new power structures in the information field, information myths,
â€¢ hidden contradictions and intentionality’s in information theories and practices,
â€¢ the development of ethical conflicts in the information field. etc
Exploring the ethics issues in information systems()
Information systems confront society with a variety of challenges of an ethical nature, some old and some new.
1) Confidentiality: Some graduates of Information System (IS) classes will one day build systems for a living; all graduates will be users of information systems. Confidentiality of information is important for all information-using professions.
Some solutions to securing data, such as requiring the use of a password to access data and providing passwords only on a need-to-know basis are fairly straight forward. But concomitant ethical issues, such as deciding who needs to know, are not so simple to address. For example, should managers have access to their supervisee’s medical records or psychological profiles? If one employee discovers that another employee contemplates suicide, should a supervisor be informed and whose supervisor? What is the proper response to a police request for information about an employee, vendor, or customer?
The possibility of matching of data from various databases confounds this issue. Database matching occurs when information is collected from more
than one database to locate persons who match some criterion.
2) Social responsibility of programmers and of their managers: An important ethical question that students should confront is whether programmers have an obligation to act in a socially responsible manner. Berkeley (1962) explores this issues in depth. May a free-lance programmer ethically work for a thief? If not, how about working on a computer project that is legal, but unethical, such as the one used to intern Americans of Japanese origin during the WW II? Is all that is legal ethical? Are all ethical decisions legal?
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3) Social responsibility of systems analysts: An analyst’s job is to design work flows that are efficient One result of an analyst’s work can be that people will lose their jobs? Is such conduct ethical? Some jobs that analysts design, such as full-time VDT operators’ jobs, are known to be highly stressful and cause harm to the worker. Should analysts create such jobs?
Research has shown that computer monitoring of workers (number of keystrokes per hour, number of telephone calls responded to per hour) increases productivity of the worker. Is such activity an invasion of privacy? Should an analyst refuse to implement a system that creates computer monitoring or that involves privacy?
4) Issues common to all managers: Should information system managers refuse gifts from a vendor? Should the manager refuse a cup of coffee or a coffee cup? Is free literature to educate the manager legitimate? a free vendor course? a free course, travel paid, held in Hawaii? What should you do if your boss appears to be making a bad business decision because of a bribe? Is it legitimate to call home if you are going to be late? To call home over the lunch break, just to chat? To call your friends in town? in Hawaii?
5) Dealing with others: The various computer professional organizations, including Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have set ethical standards for their members. Three common elements in these codes are to (1) maintain competence, (2) disclose conflict of interest, and (3) maintain confidentiality of information even after employment ends.
What should you do if a co-worker is incompetent? If a colleague at another company calls, asking for your opinion of a former co-worker who was fired for incompetence, what should you do? Should companies reveal violations of ethical standards? Should you forgo a good thing simply because you benefit from its use? (Should a professor not adopt his or her own book?) If you write code for one employer, are you forbidden forever from using that code again for another employer? If so, how many times can you re-invent the wheel?
Management Information Systems and Ethics
Presumably, Management Information Systems (MIS) professionals struggle with the same types of ethical issues faced by other business professionals. Ethical dilemmas regarding conflict of interest, theft, equal opportunity, and environmental impact cut across professions. In addition to these general concerns, several issues that apply specifically to the information systems (IS) profession are raised in the literature.
The nature of computer technology renders the ethical issues encountered by IS professionals unique. Parker et al. (1990) contended that “advancements in computer and data communications technology have resulted in the need to reevaluate the application of ethical principles and establish new agreements on ethical practices” . Information on electronic and magnetic storage media lends itself to ease of reproduction, theft, and contamination; raising issues regarding, propriety rights, property rights,
privacy, plagiarism, misuse, and freedom of expression. Because of the growing benefits accrued from access to computers. Johnson (1985) suggested that there may be circumstances in which access to computers, computer skills, computer professionals, and decision making about computer applications could be construed as rights().
The most encompassing, and possibly the most pervasive, inquiry made in the literature involves the role that IS professionals should take in determining how their work is applied and to what end it serves. Implicit in this query is the issue of prioritizing obligations to different stakeholders who are affected by the system. Several recent studies speak to these issues.
Recent studies of MIS, business, and engineering students indicate that undergraduate students have a different perception of ethically acceptable behavior than do experienced MIS professionals().
These studies provide insights regarding possible conflicts and sources of misunderstanding among members of the IS profession about issues on which all professions are judged. Vitell and Davis’ (1990) study showed that the MIS professionals surveyed felt they had many opportunities to engage in unethical behavior, but that MIS managers rarely did. Forcht (1991) surveyed chief executive officers on the 1988 listing of Datamation 100 companies. She asked subjects to respond to statements concerning
ethical behavior. Forcht’s only conclusion was that “It would appear that the CEOs responding hold some very high ethical standards personally and expect their companies to abide by these same standards().
The reviewed MIS ethics studies indicate the importance that IS professionals place on ethics and the potential benefits of ethical training for students and new professionals. Experienced professionals have a strong commitment to ethical behavior and feel as if they can distinguish unethical practices from acceptable practices. These findings seem contradictory to the evidence provided by citations in popular and academic literature of ethical transgressions of MIS professionals().
Within an MIS context, a strict deontologist might view copying software as inherently unethical, and would oppose this practice no matter what the
circumstances. A strict teleologist, on the other hand, might examine the possible positive consequences for himself and the firm (e.g., increased productivity and cost savings) and weigh these against the possible negative consequences if the firm were to be prosecuted (e.g., possible damages and negative publicity). If this individual felt that the positive consequences outweighed the negatives ones, he might feel that this practice was “worth the risk” for himself and the organization. Someone who was influenced by both the deontological and teleological perspectives might consider both the inherent rightness versus wrongness of copying software as well as the possible consequences of it. Such an individual might only consider this practice as a feasible alternative under very special circumstances (e.g., if the survival of the firm depended upon it) ().
As for the relation between ethical standards and MIS professionals performance, we can note the results of the study conducted by Scott J. Vitell and titled “Ethical Beliefs of MIS Professionals”, who conclude that the ethical standards can improve among MIS professionals when top management makes it clear that ethical behavior will be rewarded and unethical behavior will be punished. If top management does not support ethical conduct, it becomes less likely that subordinates will behave ethically. Given these results concerning top management setting the ethical tone for the firm, it seems imperative that more organizations should write and enforce codes of ethics. At least some unethical practices could be eliminated by more top managers taking such a stance. In addition, industry codes of ethics could be helpful in reducing unethical practices().
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Information system Ethics
Ethics refers to rules of right and wrong that people use to make choices to guide their behaviors. Ethics in MIS seek to protect and safeguard individuals and society by using information systems responsibly.
Information technology ethics is the study of the ethical issues arising out of the use and development of electronic technologies. Its goal is to identify and formulate answers to questions about the moral basis of individual responsibilities and actions, as well as the moral underpinnings of public policy.What is the importance of ethics in information technology? ›
Ethical issues related to implementation and use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is important since these issues constitutes the conditions for human attitudes and values specifying human actions and behavior, and implying conditions for usefulness and maintenance of such systems.What role does ethical issues play in the management of information systems? ›
It is an important aspect of ethical issues in information technology. IT facilitates the users having their own hardware, operating system and software tools to access the servers that are connected to each other and to the users by a network.Why is ethics an important consideration for an information security professional? ›
It is important to note that even when a cybersecurity practice is legal, it may not be ethical. Unethical or ethically dubious cybersecurity practices can result in significant harm and reputational damage to network users, clients, companies, the public, and cybersecurity professionals themselves.What are some ethical issues in information technology explain each of them briefly? ›
- Misuse of Personal Information. ...
- Misinformation and Deep Fakes. ...
- Lack of Oversight and Acceptance of Responsibility. ...
- Use of AI. ...
- Autonomous Technology. ...
- Respect for Employees and Customers. ...
- Moral Use of Data and Resources. ...
- Responsible Adoption of Disruptive Tech.
The goals of the ITS Employee Code of Ethics are to create a culture that fosters trust and a commitment to responsibility, excellence, and institutional and personal integrity, while avoiding conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety.Should there be an ethics of technology essay? ›
This is Expert Verified Answer. Definitely, all the science and technology need ethics to be maintained so that we humans do not harm others and the Earth for our benefits. The ethics in technology helps humans to build moral grounds on which each technology is used.What are the code of ethics in professional organization in information security? ›
Act legally, with honor, responsibility, and honesty as we implement the knowledge we have gained and continue to gain. Protect the integrity of the profession and advance its knowledge. Protect society and its security. Demonstrate unwavering commitment to the principles of ethical behavior.What are the ethical issues in information security? ›
- Harms to privacy. Privacy harm is conceptualized as the negative consequence of a privacy violation. ...
- Cyber security resource allocation. ...
- Transparency and disclosure.
We know what the law is, and we know its purpose. Legal requirements exist for the information systems we protect, so we should know what they are and have intelligent discussions about these rules and how to comply with them and protect the business.What are the ethical and moral factors of information technology? ›
Ethical issues in technology
Companies can collect information about individuals using computer programs and even use the information for their benefit without morality. Information systems enable people to manipulate records within a short period, thus raising questions on whether the information is genuine or vague.
What is Technology Ethics? Technology ethics is the application of ethical thinking to the practical concerns of technology. The reason technology ethics is growing in prominence is that new technologies give us more power to act, which means that we have to make choices we didn't have to make before.What are the common ethical rules that must be applied in all technologies? ›
Promote the Values of Autonomy, Transparency, and Trustworthiness: To create and maintain a healthy relationship between technologists and the public, respect for autonomy, transparency, and trustworthiness is key.What is the important of code of conduct in information technology professions? ›
The Code places an obligation on all to take responsibility for their own conduct and ethical behaviours and to work/ interact with technology and associated platforms to achieve environment where people are able to work safely and productively.What is information technology in easy words? ›
Information technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.Why is it important to know the moral and ethical issues in science and technology? ›
Ethical Rules in Science
Ethics is an important consideration in science. Scientific investigations must be guided by what is right and what is wrong. That's where ethical rules come in. They help ensure that science is done safely and that scientific knowledge is reliable.
Ethical AI ensures that the AI initiatives of the organization or entity maintain human dignity and do not in any way cause harm to people. That encompasses many things, such as fairness, anti-weaponization and liability, such as in the case of self-driving cars that encounter accidents.How technology has made an impact in making our lives better? ›
Using technology allows you to automate tasks, set up reminders, gather receipts, track investments, compare prices, and more. With technology, you won't have to waste your time doing simple financial tasks. With just a few clicks, you can instantly pay your bills.What are information ethics? ›
Information ethics is concerned with ethical, legal and societal aspects of using information and information and communication technologies.
What specific principles for conduct can be used to guide ethical decisions? Six ethical principles for judging conduct include the Golden Rule, Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, Descartes' Rule of Change, the Utilitarian Principle, the Risk Aversion Principle, and the Ethical “No Free Lunch” Rule.What is ethical and social issues in information systems? ›
The main ethical, social, and political issue raised by information systems center around information rights and obligations, property rights and obligations, accountability and control, system quality, and quality of life.What is the meaning of ethical issues? ›
Ethical issues are defined as situations that occur as a result of a moral conflict that must be addressed. Thus, ethical issues tend to interfere with a society's principles.What are the ethical issues in information ethics? ›
Privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility, these are the four major issues of information ethics for the information age.What is information ethics and information security? ›
Information security and ethics is deﬁned as an all encompassing term that refers to all activities needed to secure information and systems that support it in order to facilitate its ethical use.What should be the ethics for information service providers? ›
This Code of Ethics for Vendors and Service Providers establishes the general rules of ethics and compliance to be followed by vendors and service providers when they perform their work, including: (1) protecting tangible and intangible assets; (2) avoiding real and potential conflicts of interest; (3) treating ...What are the main ethical principles? ›
The Fundamental Principles of Ethics. Beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice constitute the 4 principles of ethics. The first 2 can be traced back to the time of Hippocrates “to help and do no harm,” while the latter 2 evolved later.What are the steps in conducting an ethical analysis in management information system? ›
- Identify and describe clearly the facts. ...
- Define the conflict or dilemma and identify the higher-order values involved. ...
- Identify the stakeholders. ...
- Identify the options that you can reasonably take. ...
- Identify the potential consequences of your options.
The main principles for conduct which can be used to guide ethical decisions include; the Golden Rule, Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, Descartes' rule or change, the Utilitarian Principle, the Risk Aversion Principle, and the ethical "no free lunch" rule.How information system may raise ethical issues? ›
Information systems raise new ethical questions for both individuals and societies because they create opportunities for intense social change, and thus threaten existing distributions of power, money, rights, and obligations.
These issues have five moral dimensions: information rights and obligations, property rights and obligations, system quality, quality of life, and accountability and control.What are the ethical issues in handling and processing private and personal information? ›
These ethical issues include, amongst others, the confidential treatment of personal information, the accuracy of this information, the purpose for which private information can be used and the possible gaining of access to an individual's personal and private information without the person being aware of it.What is the best definition of ethics? ›
ethics, also called moral philosophy, the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad and morally right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles.What is ethical in simple words? ›
Ethical comes from the Greek ethos "moral character" and describes a person or behavior as right in the moral sense - truthful, fair, and honest. Sometimes the word is used for people who follow the moral standards of their profession.How do we make ethical decisions? ›
- Identify the Ethical Issues.
- Get the Facts.
- Evaluate Alternative Actions.
- Choose an Option for Action and Test It.
- Implement Your Decision and Reflect on the Outcome.