Computer Ethics & Ethical Issues

Ethics is the practice of making a principled choice between right and wrong. When computers first began to be used in society at large, the absence of ethical standards about their use and related issues caused some problems. However, as their use became widespread in every facet of our lives, discussions in computer ethics resulted in some kind of a consensus. Computer ethics refers, in general, to the behaviour and ways of thinking of computer users in situations where a choice can affect the dignity and wellbeing of others. For example, while it is easy to duplicate copyrighted digital content, computer ethics would suggest that it is wrong to do so without the author's approval. And while it may be possible to access someone's personal information on a computer system, computer ethics would advise that such an action is unethical. Software enables computer-users to accomplish various tasks through computers.

While using software, it becomes a moral responsibility of users to ensure that their usage of software is ethical or not. Software ethics refers to ensuring that the software being used is not pirated or unauthorized. Public Domain Software refers to the software that is not limited by a copyright. It can be freely used, copied or altered because no one owns the rights to restrict its use. Shareware is the copyrighted software, which is distributed free on trial basis with the understanding that the user might need or want to pay for it later. Individual’s right to privacy involves issues like what information must be revealed to others and under what conditions. The ethical issues pertaining to individual’s right to privacy, involve that one must not use computers to collect, store or distribute information that is owned by someone else. Intellectual property rights are the rights of the owner of information to decide how much information is to be exchanged, shared or distributed.

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