With the changing social landscape that naturally follows changes in technology comes a new wave of ethical issues. These issues must be addressed and resolved for computers, technology and the Internet to have a positive influence in society. Internet privacy, electronic communication and computer crimes add a new layer of ethical issues that plague those who use computers and technology on a daily basis. By identifying the main societal issues in computer usage, you can take a stand for electronic ethics.
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Information and Privacy
The Internet is a veritable smorgasbord of personal information. If you need someone's phone number, you look it up. If you need to learn more about a company, you visit the website. If you want to find an old friend, you use social networking. The sheer amount of personal information make it easy to breach the boundary between using the Internet for learning and information and using the Internet to invade another's privacy. You can protect yourself by being vague about yourself online and ensuring your identity is ambiguous and nonspecific.
Copyright and Privacy
Certain items of media, such as public domain books, movies and music, are available for all to enjoy and even download. Items of media which are copyrighted are not in the public domain and downloading and distributing them is illegal. Unfortunately, online piracy is widespread and notoriously difficult to prosecute, so it often goes without consequence. The same could be said for plagiarism, which is made easier to do and harder to track with the number of resources online.
The availability of information that can be accessed with a computer paired with a lax attitude toward security means credit card numbers and identities are constantly at risk. Entering your credit card on a seemingly innocuous website may seem like an everyday activity, but that site could be a clever scam designed to fraud you out of your hard-earned money. While the amount and extent of computer crime is frightening, it's a reality and therefore it's necessary for consumers to protect themselves by purchasing from trusted retailers or using third-party payment services to protect their money.
Computers have completely altered the way humans interact with each other. With the invention of electronic mail, online messaging and social networking sites, face-to-face conversation seems to be a dying art. Because the communication landscape has changed over time, so have the challenges and ethics that accompany proper communication, such as discussing certain issues via e-mail, exchanging personal information without the proper security and forming relationships online.
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