The concepts of computer ethics and professionalism are closely related. The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics are a set of moral standards that all computer professionals should adhere to. Continue reading to learn about the Ten Commandments.
1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people: If you use your computer to harm other people, you are violating the basic ethical rule that says do unto others what you would have them do unto you. This includes using your computer to spread viruses, spam, or engage in cyber-bullying.
2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work: Interfering with someone else’s work is just as rude as walking into their office and moving their stuff around. Do not delete files, change passwords, or access someone’s account without their permission.
3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s files: Just because you can access someone else’s files does not mean you should. If you do not have permission to access someone’s files, leave them alone.
4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal: Stealing is wrong whether you do it in the physical world or the virtual one. Do not use your computer to steal copyrighted material, such as music or software.
5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness: Just like in the real world, lying is never okay. Do not use your computer to spread rumors or make up lies about someone.
6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid: Just because you can copy software does not mean you should. If you do not have a license to use software, do not use it.
7. Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without permission or proper compensation: If you use someone else’s printer, paper, or toner, be sure to ask first and offer to reimburse them for the cost. Do not hog bandwidth by downloading large files or streaming video when others are trying to use the network.
8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output: When you use someone else’s ideas, give them credit. Do not plagiarize papers or steal code.
9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing: Just because you can build a technology does not mean you should. Consider the potential implications of your work before you release it into the world.
10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans: Be respectful of other people’s time, privacy, and property when you are using a computer. Do not use your computer to harass or stalk someone. Be considerate of the way your actions will affect others.
Computers have advanced to the point where almost everything relies on them, and they are unable to function without them. The days of accounting by hand are long gone; today, there’s an app for that. But as time goes on and technology advances, the limits of restriction grow broader, allowing people to do much more wicked or good deeds.
This is where the ethical debate of what one ought or ought not to do with this technology.
The Commandments of Computer Ethics were first proposed in 1992 by the Computer Ethics Institute. The commandments are as follows:
1. thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people
2. thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work
3. thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files
4. thou shalt not use a computer to steal
5. thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness
6. thou shalt notcopy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid
7. thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without permission
8. thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output
9. thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing
10. thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.
While most people would agree with these commandments, there are still those who uses computers unethically. Just because something is possible to do does not mean it should be done. It is important to consider the ethical implications of our actions, especially when those actions have the potential to cause harm.
Ethics, in its simplest form, refer to a system of moral principles. Therefore, computer ethics would be the set of guidelines we should follow when partaking in any activity related to computers.
Computer ethics are important because they help ensure that we use technology in a responsible and respectful manner.
Given that computers are, for the most part, a common feature of everyday life, whether personal or professional, how can any individual possibly regulate every aspect of cyber-spaces “cyber laws”? The simple response is that you cannot. What comes next is: If you can’t manage it, how can you stop abuse without infringing on people’s rights? (I.e., freedom of speech and expression) Unfortunately there isn’t a clear cut answer to this question; all we can do is wish for people to develop basic principles into responsible computing habits.
There are, however, some who have taken it upon themselves to provide a set of guidelines or “commandments” for computer ethics. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it provides a starting point for thinking about the ethical implications of computing.