Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Research Paper on Cyber Ethics

Cyber Ethics Research Paper

Social and Moral Issues in the Computer Age
With today's modern, high-tech society, morals and values are being questioned daily with new technology. Employers now have ways to monitor employees activities, both at home and at the office. Internet companies have the right to place "cookies" in your computer, which constantly transmits info about your computer to the company. Hackers can break into your system and extract credit card numbers, social security, bank accounts and other personal, vital information. How can you establish what is and isn't yours in cyber-space? If you have a free e-mail provider, such as Hotmail, do you own the account, or does Microsoft? These are all broad questions that have to be looked at in closer detail in order to have an idea of what is morally and ethically right.

Some say that what employees do at home and what they do at the work place are two different things and should not be mixed. So, if an employer who is monitoring it's employees catches one of them illegally downloading music and other pirated software, can the employer rightfully fire the employee? My answer is yes. I believe that the employee's actions reflect the place of employment, whether it be in the privacy of his own home or not, and that if the employer so chooses to fire an employee, he/she has the right to do so. However, the question still remains. Does the employer have the right to fire the employee based on conduct outside of the work place? Some argue that if the actions in cyber-space outside of the work place do not interfere with the job, it doesn't matter what the employee does. Let's look at this from another view point. A taxi driver goes out on the town one night, gets drunk and gets in a car accident. Now, the action has not interfered with his job, but the fact that he has gotten drunk and been in an accident questions his ability to safely transport passengers. Here's another example. An employee goes out and gets drunk, but does not get in a wreck. He is not injured at all. Instead, he's going into work with a hangover. This makes him short of temper and easily irritated. He begins taking it out on co-workers, making the work environment uncomfortable and hard to work in. Does the employer have the right to fire the employee?


Another issue of privacy is the development of "cookies". "Cookies" are little programs, developed by companies that attach themselves to your system whenever you visit one of the company's websites. The cookie then transmits information about how you use your computer back to the company. The idea is that the company then uses that information to either create better working software, or more effective campaigning and advertising with the use of pop-ups. Pop-ups are websites that literally "pops-up" unprompted when a certain site is visited. These pop-ups are generally tagged onto the main website. Now, is it morally and ethically right that all these "dot com" companies place cookies in our system? Users do have the ability to turn off cookies, but then most websites do not work properly when done so. And most users don't even know that they can turn off the cookies, so the cookies are pretty much placed in the computer system without the users knowing. Now, the government needs a warrant to view the activity of a computer. Why is it that internet companies can do the same? Some argue that when you sign up for the internet, you are consenting to the placement of cookies in your system. So, if you don't want cookies on your computer, don't sign up for the internet. However, if you want access to the internet to research information, stay in contact with friends, manage bills and recreationally surf the internet, you have to put up with cookies, or suffer through a faulty internet when cookies are turned off. This almost sounds like blackmail to me. I suppose if it wasn't such a danger to allow cookies on your system, I wouldn't mind. But that is how many viruses get into your computer; they attach themselves to the attaching cookie.

Hackers have been around since the internet was first offered to the public. Police and government officials have been battling this, trying to keep up with new methods and technology. A hacker will break into your computer through the internet to access it's files. From here, the hacker can crash your system, view the computer's activity, or extract important and personal information, such as credit cards. This would be the same as someone breaking into your house, stealing your money, and planting evidence that would otherwise convict him of a murder. And yet we can deal with a thief much easier than a hacker. Why? Well, a good hacker can conceal the way he hacked into the computer, as well as the terminal he hacked from. So, how do you stop a hacker? You can change passwords frequently, use firewalls, stay disconnected from the internet unless in use, things like that. Yet, to a skilled hacker, all this would mean a little longer time used to break into the system. Why is it we can't stop hackers? Part of it becomes the privacy issue again. In order to stop hackers, all computers and their activities would have to be monitored. And that, as we all know, is illegal. So, do we continue to allow the danger of hackers, or do we sacrifice our privacy to allow our computers to be monitored? That is a question that I feel will become a huge controversial issue.

What are the property rights in cyber-space? I used the example of a Hotmail account earlier to illustrate this question. This can also be seen through piracy. One person buys a cd, therefore buying an individual license. Does he then have the right to put it on the web for others to access? This has perhaps been the biggest issue of cyber ethics. After all, he bought the cd; he has the right to throw it away, why not the right to put on the internet for the rest of cyber-space to access? Yet at the same time, what right does the music artist have to be cheated of sales when people are allowing it to be downloaded for free? The artist worked hard in learning the song, perfecting the song, and performing the song. Why can't he enjoy the fruit of his labors?

All of these are valid questions that we as a society are faced with. Each one has it's own side with it's own understandable argument. Each issue has to be looked at individually. There is no one standard for all questions. When determining the issue, you have to look at your own morals and decide which is right.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example research papers on Cyber ethics topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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