Ethics is a branch of moral philosophy that comprises classifying, protecting, and acclaiming ideas of right and wrong conduct. In simple terms, ethics is nothing more than our belief towards action and happening situations. As the world is inclined towards technology more than before, the need of ethics increases more than before for proper growth and to minimize the risk of wrong uses.
IT plays a big role and affects every part of the society whether doing education, ticketing, getting a gas connection, dealing with bank, trading stocks, paying bills, applying for a passport, voters card etc. All these need to be done right way which the society perceives to be correct. Any wrong doing will affect a larger section of the society and the result can be irreversible. IT ethics enforces the right and wrong in IT. Ethics in Information technology are related to the following
In any industry or company, the success of business depends on having the right information at the right time at the right place to take informative decision. So as to provide the right information, there is a need to have the right data about the subject/customer.
Once this data is captured, IT department of a company is responsible for the security of the data as well as the availability of the data to the people on a need to know basis. The IT department also ensures that the data is secured and not shared nor sold to any third party. Once this trust is gained in the society, then there will be more and more people from the different parts of the society becoming part of this IT revolution.
For example, in companies like Intel and Infosys, a lot of emphasis and training is given to the IT personnel on ethics related to the importance of data and its value.
Copyright law has been developed to establish exclusive rights for a copyright holder. The copyright holder has the right to determine how their work may be used i.e., make copies, make different versions of the work or perform certain works in public and decide whether they will grant the right to copy or use the material.. The company should strictly give guidelines not to download any software, songs unless it is an open source and do not copy copyrighted software without the author’s permission. The company does a full scan of the computer from time to time to make sure that there is no illegal software as well as there is no copyright violation.
The unauthorized and improper use of computer and their resources should be prohibited. Using office computer and visiting sites which are related to violence, pornography, abuse or getting emails related to any of the above topics is a serious violation. This will decreases the productivity of the employee which in turn decreases productivity of the company and that affects the society.
Sniffing can happen in two ways, one is physical sniffing and other being – virtual world. In physical sniffing comprises of accessing other’s email, catch the password and read company confidential information.
In the virtual world, an email can be sent to the unsuspecting user to provide the personal details in order to gain financially, like a lottery ticket has been won in your name. This affects the trust and integrity of the people on technology as well as company.
Using explicit information from other companies for personal gains is a serious company policy violation and there could be legal consequences. Many companies use ‘Non-disclosure agreements’ to reduce the risk for company explicit information .company should train and alert their employees in best possible ways on the ethical scenarios of using ‘company exclusive information for personal gain’ and the consequences for the same so that employees are completely aware .
Different types of emails related to pornography, sexually explicit emails, unwanted product offers, illegal prescription drug offers, lottery’s, etc. contributes to the huge volume of spam emails. These spams emails often leads users to malicious websites or even can infect users machines via attachments or scripts contained in the message. Organizations should have strong email policies and also train employees on the ethics and handling of unsolicited or sexually explicit emails.
Establishing a company look alike login page and asking people to login or share personal & financial details for personal gain creates a security threat, financial threat. This can affect the credibility of the company.
Corporate & organizations should device proper training and strong policies for their employees to handle unethical phishing crimes, which may cost a lot of money and which can spoil the reputation (confidential information leak) of the organization. Organizations such as banks have a social responsibility to spread or convey the message that no bank or organizations will request Account number, User id, Password, Credit card numbers from their customers as they already have this information with them.
The unethical approach to programming and incorrect testing will have a severe impact on the society – for example issues related to car programs not written and tested correctly could be a life and death issue. Publishing of information without checking the authenticity in media (social as well as digital) will affect the society in a negative way.
Software produced for any critical segments such as banks, insurance etc. should follow proper development and testing guidelines laid out by the company. Therefore companies’ small or large producing software for any critical system should set strong processes & guidelines for software development process.
Transparency in public sector as well as in the private sector is one of the ethical aspects which directly touch each section of Indian society. By making the facilities available through electronic medium like internet and other web based services, the organizations and the government bodies in India have started creating a positive environment by which general public even can make the public servants and other private governing officers more accountable. E-governance, E-Ticketing, UID program (AADHAAR) has brought in a lot of transparency and thereby providing a positive impact to the society.
Promoting fairness at work place is another aspect of corporate ethics, which directly or indirectly has an impact on the work culture of an IT organization and sends the good precedence to the society. For achieving this, companies try to reaffirm that every individual receives an equal opportunity to be recognized across the organization by developing a sense among the employees of the fair promotion policies. This helps in selecting the right supplier for the company and helps the society to move away from the belief that, you do not have to bribe to get things done. If your product is good, you have a process in place, and then you will get a fair chance to do the business.
Many of the Indian and foreign companies came up with an idea of volunteer time off option for the employees. According to this policy employees can voluntarily take offs to do community works like educating the poor children, serving the socially discarded people, helping the physically challenged people, collecting the fund etc.
Tata/Wipro/Infosys & many more other companies encourage their employees to take about 40hours paid time off every year for such initiatives & also recognize them for their work.
By making such commitments, IT companies ethically support different sections of Indian society by making no difference in religious or regional basis.
IT companies came up with the idea of green business technologies which will help to save energy as well as to save the recyclable costs without hampering our surroundings in which we live. This initiatives puts a positive picture of recognitions on the society which shows actually how much responsible we are towards our nature & how much ethically sensitive the IT is towards the society.
For example, HP/IBM/Dell/Intel/Microsoft addresses some of the ethical points such as to reduce material resource consumption, support ones compliance needs with current and anticipated e-waste disposal carbon regulations which are challenging with respect to our surroundings.