Introduction to Computer Information Systems and Ethics
|Course:||BUS206: Management Information Systems|
|Book:||Introduction to Computer Information Systems and Ethics|
|Printed by:||Guest user|
|Date:||Thursday, November 30, 2023, 5:11 AM|
This text provides a comprehensive overview of how information systems relate to ethics. While reading, consider the relationship between ethical action and legal remedies. Many people think that the ethical issues raised by new technologies are just the same issues in a new form. Do you agree or disagree? Has technology created a new class of ethical issues? What are the difficulties raised by creating new laws and regulations to solve these issues?
Intellectual Property Rights
Trademark License FAQ
Intellectual Property Rights are the legal rights which creators are entitled to. Creators are the people who produced intellectual property which are creative works that they have originally made. With these rights, creators can choose what can legally be done to the work and other rules that need to be followed. There are a variety of original works that can have property rights. Some of these include written work, drawings, graphics, and many more. Having these rights are very important because it allows someone to claim their intellectual ideas as their own. There is a company called WIPO which are a self-funding agency that has copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and also geographical indications used in e-commerce. This system is around because they recognize that creative works need to be protected by law and that they are around to support a creative environment. This company even has a magazine which displays the work that they have protected and boosts the work of creators worldwide. They also run workshops and have different forms of training to help innovators improve their skills and become familiar with new developments. The ability to have an agency support you and your work is a great step in the world of creativity, and keeping those intellectual property rights is what will continue to help creators flourish.
Copyrights are there to protect individuals' work, such as literature, art and music. Enacted in 1976, Copyrights give the original creator rights over what they created. In the case where the creator dies, they still retain rights 70 years after their death. So let's say someone buys a C.D. of a certain artist. Even though it is now their property, the artist still holds rights over the songs. Often times with trying to prevent piracy, many things will have digital watermarks, a slight change to content that most cannot see but identifies the copyright holder. All of this is necessary due to complaints of infringement. These measures must be put in place to protect original work.
Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, designs, or a combination of these that are used as an identifier in order to help consumers identify and distinguish one product/service from another one which might be similar. This is also referred to as their "logo". Trademarks are usually registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPO) and use the letter R enveloped in a circle next to the logo to signify this. Trademarks which are claimed but unregistered are allowed to use the print tm alongside they're logo to represent that a claim has been made so as to deter others from using it. The purpose of a trademark is to protect the logo from being used by competitors who may want to "knock off" a more reputable company, though trademarks also protect domain names as well. Many companies want to set up a website using a domain name which matches their product so a consumer can instinctively find their web address, and a trademark will often safeguard against another company using it.
Patents are similar to Copyrights and Trademarks but protect a person's invention rather than their literary accomplishments or company logos. Patents are usually granted for a 20 year period and legally authorize the sole rights of an individual to manufacture or produce that which s/he invented. Often it is a unique product but it can also be a unique process such as the Born-Haber Cycle. Having your item patented, you are given the right to ban others from selling, making, using or importing your item for this certain number of years.
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The general definition of the word "ethics" defines the elements important to humans' morals. Ethics could be referred to as specific values, standards, rules, and agreements. For example, not being involved in software piracy is a matter of ethics. Computer ethics is a set of morals that regulate the use of computers. It is important for computer users to be aware of the ethical use of copyrighted material, the ethical use of resources and information, and the ethical use of school, company, and employee information. There are a set of rules called the "Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics" - which are rules that speak for themselves. These commandments are:
- Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
- Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
- Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid (without permission).
- Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
- Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
- Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
- Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans
The 10 ethical computer commandments are simple rules to abide by when using a computer.
Common issues of computer ethics are the following: privacy concerns, how computers affect society, and intellectual property rights. It is a very common and easy practice to burn a CD or movie for a friend. However, a better option would be to tell the friend to buy the CD or movie as an ethical alternative. The privacy of another person is also an ethical issue of today. People's information is easily accessible through the computer; the ethical solution would be to not access another person's private information unless given permission. Ethics certainly guide our behavior, and it is the source of the acts we will and will not partake in.
One ethical issue introduced by the increased prevalence of new technology is the rise in cheating among students using technology. As students have more technology, they naturally have more ways to cheat – ways that adult teachers who don't use all the new technology might not be aware of. 35% of students in one study admitted to cheating by using a phone. This can be done by storing notes on a phone and looking at it in class, texting someone outside of the class for an answer, and so on. A shockingly large number of teenagers seem to not even 'realize' that this is cheating; around or over 20% didn't think that it was. They're so used to having their cell phones attached to themselves as a part of their body that they don't realize that it actually isn't something they're supposed to be using at all times, and they saw no difference between screaming an answer across a class room and covertly texting it to a friend. Young people need to be aware that cheating is still present in technology so they don't get in trouble for academic dishonesty. Faculty need to be aware of how students might be cheating using their phones, iPads, etc. to prevent it in the classroom.
History of Computer Ethics
Computer ethics is a concept that is growing larger every day with new advanced technology. Computer ethics first came about in the 1970's as computers were becoming integrated into homes. Computers today are used at home, in schools, and in almost every company. This field has taken ethics to a whole new level, especially due to privacy issues found throughout various businesses. This form of ethics is also now offered as a course to study at many universities around the world. Computer ethics includes the various philosophical aspects of ethics, as well as psychological and sociological interpretations. When the field was first discovered in the 1970's, applied ethics was used to describe the new concept. Applied ethics consisted of a combination of utilitarianism, as well as Kant ethics. At the time there was much controversy to what computers would bring to society. Some thought that computers would create more ethical issues, whereas others thought it put a so-called "twist" on old ethics. In the 1980's the computer was thought to be the closest object to a universal tool available to individuals. In essence, the integration of the computer into every day society was not easy. The generation of the computer was new, as well as exciting. But nobody had used it before, including businesses and individuals. There would have to be some form of ethical guidelines to using these new products that nobody had much experience with. Nowadays, computer ethics covers a wide variety of topics such as computers in the workplace, computer crime, professional responsibility, and privacy and anonymity.
Ethical Use of Music
he sharing of music over the internet has continuously been a problem over the past few years and it is still a major problem today. The music controversy began with Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing web application that was created to allow users to share music files via the internet. Napster originally started as a small web application for a few friends to share music on, but as the application grew in users, it began to strike the attention of the music industry. Some artists, specifically Metallica and Dr. Dre who filed a law suit against Napster, were outraged at the web application and in 2001, Napster finally closed due to the losing of a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America. Napster and other peer-to-peer sharing websites that still exist today, such as The Pirate Bay, Mediafire, and Megaupload, are a large controversy because the copying of songs for non-commercial use is legal under the fair use concept, however, downloading files from a peer-to-peer website without compensating the artist is a violation of copyright law under Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
There are several websites that can be used to convert YouTube videos to a MP3 format you can download to your computer. The most well known of these programs is called ClipConverter, but there are other programs. ClipConverter is a free online-based service that converts any online video to a MP4 or MP3, and then these files can be downloaded to your computer. There have been similar programs in the past, but these have been deactivated due to pressure from Google, the owner of YouTube. ClipConverter converter continues to operate because of the guidelines and rules placed on users. Users are allowed to download the videos for fair use meaning personal, non-commercial use. Personal use of a video is legal, but if a user sells the video for profit, or passes it off as his/her own, that is a copyright violation, and illegal. As a condition of using the ClipConverter service, the user agrees to use the video only for personal use, and agrees to not involve ClipConverter in any type of copyright lawsuit brought against the user. It is this policy and other strict user rules and policies that allow ClipConverter to operate in a legal way.
New youtube logoTo combat the infringement of copyright law due to illegal file sharing, the music industry began placing Digital Rights Management (DRM) control on downloaded files so that they couldn't be shared. However, this also stopped users from being able to transfer the files to other personal devices. Today, many music downloading services, such as Apple's iTunes, have switched to MP3 or MP4 formats to allow users to view files on multiple personal devices.
FBI Anti-Piracy Warning Seal
Computer Hoaxes and Digital Manipulation
Example of a photo that has been digitally manipulated (edited)
A computer hoax, or virus hoax, is an inaccurate statement or story spread through computers, typically through an email. Usually the email warns the user about a virus or worm and instructs the user to forward the message (which spreads the virus) or recommends that the receivers download an infected file attachment. These virus hoaxes can often be distinguished by their lofty and enticing wording or by claims that sound formal and authorized. These types of emails use people's fear of the internet to manipulate their actions and thus spread a virus or computer hoax; many consider these fake emails to be worms in and of themselves because of this.
Digital Manipulation is editing or altering any type of digital content. The most commonly thought of is photo-shop, which is editing an image so that it has little to no resemblance of the original image. This can be anything from adjusting the "exposure" on a photo or using an airbrush tool, to combing two photos to make one or adding portions that were not in the original (such as a large moon covering half the sky behind the Chicago skyline). But digital manipulation also includes altering text, music, movies, or voice interviews. The main issue when it comes to ethics in digital manipulation is ensuring that copyrights are not violated and the original digital information is not misused or misinterpreted. Also, intentions and purpose are key in deciding "how far is too far" when it comes to photo-shop or other editing methods.
Computers and Your Health
There are some physical problems that can be caused by computer use such as eyestrain, blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, backaches, and wrist and finger pain. One kind of health problem that occurs is repetitive stress injuries, which is when doing the same thing over and over causes hand, wrist, shoulder, or neck pain. Using the keyboard and the mouse can cause repetitive stress injuries. One repetitive stress injury that is related to repetitive finger movement is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a painful condition of the hands and wrists. Another repetitive stress injury is related with typing on the smaller keyboards of mobile devices and this is called DeQuervain's tendonitis. There can also be many eye problems caused by looking at a computer screen for too long. Another concern is hearing loss because many portable media devices can be turned up too loud and cause hearing problems. There is also a concern with radiation that can be emitted from wireless devices. Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS is a certified doctor of natural medicine and of chiropractic manipulation and is a clinical nutritionist, who believes electromagnetic radiation (RMR) from cell phones is harmful to our bodies and our brains, resulting in cancers, tumors and dementia. He also believes we need further testing to discover just how dangerous cell phones (and other EMR-emitting devices) really are. There are ways to avoid the physical health problems caused by computers. One way is to make sure that you are comfortable while at the computer and that you use a good chair that will be supportive for your back and neck. It is also important to just be aware of these possible physical health risks caused by computers because it is something that is often overlooked. Of course, to avoid EMR you'll have to avoid using cell phones, which is highly unlikely to happen.
As mentioned before, most people today interact with some type of computer daily. We have learned that there are many risk factors associated with the extended use of computers. Some of those risk factors include eye strain, fatigue and upper and lower body discomfort. Luckily, there is a solution to these problems. It is called ergonomics. Ergonomics is a technology which focuses on making the work space as functional, safe and comfortable as possible. One thing computer users should consider when using the computer is wrist strain. It is important for the user to keep his wrists as straight as possible. Some causes for a bent wrist can be the keyboard being too low or high, or it being tilted upward. A solution to this can be to adjust the keyboard to the appropriate height or adjust the height of the chair. Another solution could be to use a split keyboard or what is known as an ergonomic keyboard. Another risk people face with extended use of the computer is back discomfort or even back disorder. This can be caused by an inadequate chair that lacks support for the back. It can also be caused by a lack of foot support or from slouching due to fatigue. Some solutions to these problems would be to use a lumbar cushion or to utilize a foot rest. It is also important for a user to take frequent breaks and change positions often. Many people today are exposed to extended computer use whether it is for a job or for entertainment. It is important for computer users to know the risks associated with over-usage and to be familiar with ergonomics in order to create the safest and most comfortable environment for themselves.
Computers in Medicine
In the same way that computers can be hazardous to one's long term health, they can also be used to monitor and, in-fact, encourage healthy habits. Sitting at a computer sedentary for hours on end day-in and day-out can lead to eyestrain, headaches, etc. as was previously discussed. However, in recent years, health and medicine have capitalized on the use of computers to further their industry. In hospitals and labs, CAT scans, X-rays, EEGs, EKGs, heart monitors, blood pressure and blood sugar scanners, and much more have been used to assess and monitor an individual's health. Certainly these additions to the medical field have made medicine a much more precise science and helped countless individuals who were suffering. However, computers have not only been used in reactive situations. They now can also help an individual be proactive about their health with the introduction of embedded computers, monitors, and biometrics. One example of this is the three-dimensional accelerometer (better known by the brand name "Fitbit"). These technologies allow the mechanism to gather data about the human body, interpret the data into usable information, and also store it in case a medical professional needs access to real-time health records. They can give an individual information about heartbeat/heart rate, sleep patterns, amount of physical activity, etc. and, in some cases, can even recommend that a person change certain behavior to combat unhealthy habits.
Stress of Ever-Changing Technology
Today we see many kinds of changes that are causing a great deal of stress and anxiety. Most of these changes are directly related to the digital revolution and have only become problems in the last 10 to 20 years. Modern technology has infiltrated the workplaces, people's cars and their homes. According to the Angus Reid, 14% of Canadian workers identified new technology in the workplace as a significant source of stress. Never before have individuals been asked to adapt as rapidly. Instant communication and exponentially growing technology lead us to one of the few absolute truths – technology change is constant. Technology has reconfigured the nature of work and our social relationships on the job. People feel overwhelmed by the volume of emails and calls that they receive. Though people cannot stop this technology roller coaster, they can use a variety of practical strategies to develop resilience and renew and replenish themselves. Some of the simplest skills that the people can learn to be more resilient to stress are deep relaxation and self-care. It can convert fatigue into energy and restlessness into calmness.
Because of our fast growth and use of technology there are many positive advantages of using computers; however, in recent years emotional health has become an important factor when using computers and technology. The use of computers in general can cause much stress and anxiety for workers in different fields today. When computers were first introduced to the working field, secretaries had to learn how to change from a typewriter to a keyboard. Many people now widely understand the use of computers, but the downfall is keeping up with the changing technology. Every few years a new system, computer design, etc. is updated and sent out to the market. This makes operating a company more difficult when programs and systems need to be updated. Because the Internet can be accessed 24/7 the stress of being "on-call" is worrisome to many workers. They worry they do not have enough down time for themselves once they come home from work that day. In the U.S. information is right at citizens' fingertips, which can sometimes create an information overload. There is always news to be caught up on, as well as catching up with email, text messages, and social media. Many can become exhausted from being on the computer (or cell phone) too much. This is called burnout which is long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. A more common type of "emotional health" deals with teenagers who have a technology addiction. Social media plays a huge role in this today.
The virtual world is similar to reality. People can play their chosen online roles, similar to the masks people put on everyday. At the same time the virtual world seems to have advantages over the real world. You can achieve success through creativity while concealing defects. Virtual reality (VR) gives individuals the opportunity to take on any role without having to take any of the responsibility and without fear of the consequences of rejection or condemnation. The person feels protected and inaccessible and can easily express their opinions, even if they are not able to do so in real life. The virtual world gives the illusion of protection from loneliness. At the same time it provides an opportunity to get away from communicating with real people, whose opinion would have to be considered. VR allows you to simulate reality by creating a state of endless possibilities. Surfing the Net gives the feeling of being in the "flow" and a disconnection from reality with a sense of being in another world, another time, another dimension.
Many people today are addicted to the internet but do not know that they are. There are many signs of internet addiction. A good example is if they are always thinking about the internet. If a person is using the internet more and more in order to receive satisfaction, this could be a sign of addiction. If they feel restless or depressed because they're not on the internet, this too could be a tell-tale sign of internet addiction. Some tips on breaking this internet addiction are to understand that they have a problem with the internet. Next is to build coping skills. Many people become addicted to the internet because it is their outlet for stress and anger. Being able to change the way a person copes with their problems would be extremely beneficial. There is also therapy, counseling and support groups to take advantage of and help with this addiction. It is important to be able to overcome an internet addiction to be able to fully appreciate life.
According to stopcyberbullying.org, cyberbullying occurs when a minor is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another minor using the Internet. These acts can be committed through interactive and digital technologies, or mobile phones. To be considered a true cyberbullying incident, minors must be involved on both sides, or at least instigated by one in an attempt to harm, another. If and when adults become involved, it then becomes cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, and is wholly different from cyberbullying. For most, it is usually not a one time event, unless it is a legitimate threat of serious harm. Children are typically aware of the extent of danger or hurtful ideas, while parents may be more concerned about offensive language used. Ultimately, cyberbullying could lead to a misdemeanor charge, though if the child is young enough, juvenile delinquency is an option. Often, it does not go that far, yet many parents try to pursue criminal charges. If hacking, password breach, or identity theft is involved, it can be a crime of state and federal law.
The U.S. Digital Divide
Though the exact percentage is argued over by the experts, we can be happy to know that in the United States the Digital Divide continues to shrink. About 80% of the population of the United States uses the Internet. They use the Internet at school, work, home, and everywhere else. It's rare to find a McDonalds, one of the lowest common denominator eating establishments, that doesn't have a Wi-Fi connection. Computers and Internet access are always getting cheaper, which is great news because staying connected to the world is such an important quality. We stay alive and thrive through building relationships of all different kinds and the Internet is a powerful means of obtaining these relationships. Not only that, but most jobs today require the use of the Internet in one way or another. Due to the importance of the Internet, however, the percentage of Americans using the Internet should be closer to 99%. According to Forbes, there are several reasons why some people have never used the Internet or don't use it very often. The biggest percentage of them said they don't want or need to go online, because they're either too busy or because they think the Internet is a waste of time. A slightly smaller number of them said it is difficult or frustrating to go online, either because they don't understand or are physically unable. Ultimately, the importance of the Internet is understood the world over, meaning that the digital divide in the U.S. will continue to shrink so our country can stay competitive with Europe and Asia especially.
Global Digital Divide
The Global Digital Divide is an issue that our world seems to be facing more and more as time goes on. Like the US Digital divide, it is a comparison of groups of people with access to technology but on a global scale instead of a country scale. The problem arrises when one country's people has more access to technology and /or communications than another country. Most developed countries have a majority of their population with some access to technology, however it seems that many developing countries lack the technological accessibility that the others have. The largest problem caused by this is the lack of education. The internet today is such a source of information that one could potentially gain their entire college degree while hardly ever stepping foot in a classroom. Many people around the world lack the opportunity to gain an education because of their lack of access to the internet and other technology that would help them to learn things at a faster, easier, or more efficient rate. The internet has so many uses: school courses, communication, language tutoring, translations, calculations, and so many more.
More on the Digital Divide
The concept that is called the Digital Divide is the reality that technology, specifically computers and the Internet, is not available to all individuals. The digital divide is thought to be based on physical access to computers, Internet, and related technology. Some people consider the people that have access to computers and the Internet but do not understand how to use it are also part of the category of people that do not have true access to digital technology. One article explains that there are multiple dimensions to the digital divide. It claims the difference in not necessarily determined by the access to the Internet, but by access to ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) and to Media that the different segments of society can use. Other factors that should be considered are the quality of connection to the Internet and the cost of access to the Internet. Researchers also report that disadvantages can take such forms as lower-performance computers, lower-quality or high price connections, difficulty of obtaining technical assistance, and lower access to subscription-based contents. The reason that the digital gap is a concern for society is that information and communication technologies are vital to quality civic life. One article explains that access to new technology splits clearly along socio-economic class lines. According to U.S. census data, more than 30 million homes have no broadband access, most of them concentrate in some of the poorest parts of the country. According to another survey 84% of the teachers surveyed felt that today's digital gap is leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools. Technology can inform people by creating mutual understanding about different cultures and societies; technology also plays a part in education and governmental reform. By lessening the digital gap economic equality, social mobility, and economic growth will be more readily available.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires companies with more than 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for anyone that has known limitations. Nowadays, there is hardware and software specifically designed to aid individuals with physical disabilities. The most common technology that has been introduced is used to help those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. There are various input devices available today to assist users communicate, usually on the computer.
- Braille or large-print keyboards
- One-handed keyboards
- Switches, eye tracking systems
- Pointing Devices
- Voice Input devices
In addition to the various input devices, there are output systems as well. The most common one is a screen reader that can read text information for the blind. There are also printers that can print in Braille instead of the conventional ink. Assistive technology is not always the best option, however. Often times it can be too expensive for the individual and not match their exact needs. Devices should be researched and tried out before purchasing. Training for these devices also needs to be taken into consideration. For example, what if this technology stops working for the user?
So how do some of these assistive devices such as Braille keyboards, one-handed keyboards, eye tracking systems, pointing devices, and voice input devices work? First off, made up of raised dots that signify a "language," and thus can be read by touch, Braille keyboards allow the visually impaired population to type and enter any text for the computer in Braille. Secondly, to assist people with limited movement of only one hand, each of the one-handed keyboard's key contains two letters (accommodating both the left and right side keys on a conventional keyboard), making it easier for all keys to be reached with just one hand. They also provide with the ability to input data to the computer hands-free through speech recognition systems. To act as mouse alternatives, many other pointing devices like foot-controlled mice (controlled solely by the feet), head pointing systems (directed using simple head movements), and eye tracking systems (tracking the movement of the eye) are commonly used. To add on to all these types of outstanding assistive technology, there is also another alternative input system known as "sip-and-puff" system, which is activated by one's inhaling or exhaling!
Next, once the data has been input into the computer using any of these assistive input devices, assistive output devices come into play. These devices include screen readers, which read aloud all the text information on the screen; Braille displays act similar to Braille keyboards as they continuously convert screen output into Braille form. Lastly, there are also Braille printers – sometimes known as Braille embossers – which transfer and print computer generated text into embossed Braille output. Therefore, instead of the traditional ink, the embosser creates raised dots on a page for the visually impaired to read.
Assistive Technology in the Classroom
Assistive technology can be especially helpful in the education setting. Thanks in large part to the mainstreaming and inclusion efforts in schools today, students of every ability are integrated into traditional classrooms. This integration can be greatly aided by the use of assistive technology. Assistive Technology allows students with disabilities to learn and complete lessons more independently. Educators can use a variety of tools to help all types of students. Screen readers can be used to read text to visually impaired students. There are many programs available (some are even free) that can be used to read documents aloud to students. This can be helpful for both visually impaired students, as well as students that are cognitively impaired and unable to read. Close captioning and subtitling help students that are hearing impaired. Eye tracking systems as well as sip and puff systems are especially helpful for students with mobility impairments. Voice recognition software can also provide a way for students to write more efficiently without the use of a keyboard. Adding these technological advancements to the classroom allows students to participate in lessons and activities that would not otherwise be available to them.
Green computing is the study of designing, engineering, and manufacturing using and disposing of computing devices in a way that reduces their environmental impact. This refers to the use of computers in an environmentally friendly manner, but computing is not currently as environmental friendly. According to the guide to greener electronics only 2 out of 18 of the PC are considered on the green rating. The reason is because companies are subjected to make energy and hence cost saving in the face of rising electricity prices. One of the activates that could help environmental savings is existing hardware which can be in place of it there are software's called LittleGreenGenie. This software permit certain individuals to measure reduce and carbon offset from computer use. Its stats that it takes about 1.8 tons of chemicals, fossil fuels and water to produce a typical desktop computer and there's about one billion PCs sold. Although putting a computer on standby or sleep mode will save a lot of power, people are unaware that shutting down a computer doesn't completely turn it off because the computer power supply will remain physically switched on. This leads the motherboard still partially on waiting for a signal to boot up again. The following are certain tasks that can be beneficial in reducing energy consumption which are lower power hard drive, visualization, cloud computing, energy effecting coding, improved repair, re-use recycling and disposable and less pollutant manufacture. The only true, current, disadvantage to green computing are underpowered devices and costs.
Instead of reducing energy consumption and electricity costs, another option is to use solar power. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic cells. These cells can be packaged into a frame, and a frame into an array, based on how much solar power is needed for the building or area. The process has slowly become cheaper due to our increase in technology and knowledge of solar power. As of right now, we are considered to be in our third generation of solar power because of our use of new materials like nanotubes, silicon wires, and solar inks. This is a step up from the first generation, which used solely silicon as a material, and then the second generation, which used thin-film solar panels. As the capability of solar power becomes cheaper, more products are incorporating solar power as a power source. Examples of this are the solar powered phone charger and solar powered calculator. Solar powered calculators have been around for a while because calculators do not require much energy, so the solar panel is very small and therefore cheap. The solar powered charger has come out more recently because the newer flexible technology made it feasible to produce. Solar power has been a greener way to consume energy.
Recycling of Computers and Other Electronics
Given the reliance of the commercial world on computer technology it is easy to overlook the inherent unsustainability of computer production. Computers have become embedded in contemporary culture and play a crucial role in the global economy, but as the industrialized world continues to degrade the environment one must become aware of the negative impacts of computer use and consequently work with possible ways to reduce them. The Chicago Recycling Coalition states that, on average, 240 kg of fossil fuels are consumed in the process of producing a desktop PC. In a time when fossil fuel supplies are decreasing at an alarming rate it is important now more than ever to be conscious of consumer decisions. The issue of fossil fuels aside, computers contain arsenic and mercury while computer monitors can contain several pounds of lead. This is one reason why simply disposing computers into landfills is problematic. Instead, the Chicago Recycling Coalition advises consumers to donate computers to various organizations and charities, give older computers to family and friends who need them, and find locations that offer recycling services. The EPA provides a utility that helps consumers and manufacturers know where they can donate or recycle their electronics. Mobile devices, PCs and TVs make up the "Electronic Devices" category, and after selecting a device one can choose a company to see what services are offered.
Before recycling your computers you may want to do a few things. In order to protect your information and privacy, you should wipe out your hard drive. However, just deleting files is not enough. Cyber criminals are very capable people and they will find a way to find information on your hard drive that you "deleted" the information. There are programs on the internet that you can use to "sanitize" your hard drive. An even easier way is to just remove the hard drive altogether. Other ways to recycle your devices is to donate them. You could even help your community out by having a fundraiser to collect everyone's technological garbage and then you can donate them. This not only helps the community but also the environment. Now if you're not looking to get rid of your entire computer you do have a printer. You will always come to the problem of running out of ink. Instead of throwing out these old cartridges, you could just have them refilled. Not only is this good for the environment, but it can also help you save money because refilling ink cartridges is worth a fraction of the cost of buying new ones.
E-trash, or e-waste, is a growing problem in modern society. The issue of dealing with the huge amounts of electronics that are being outdated and thrown away asks the question; what do we do with all this junk? Although e-waste only makes up about 2% of America's trash in landfills, it comprises 70% of the country's toxic waste. A lot of this toxicity is because of the huge amounts of lead that can be found in electronics. Between 20 and 50 million metric tons of e-waste is disposed of every year, but only about 12.5% of e-waste is actually recycled properly. It is important to recycle e-waste not just to protect the environment but also to harvest the high amounts of precious metals within the electronics. Just in cell phones alone, over $60 million in gold and silver is dumped ever year. Electronics can be taken to recyclers for support. There are many non-profit groups that offer recycling of old devices. There are also drop-off locations throughout the US that allow you to dispose of devices and batteries. A lot of "e-waste" is actually not waste at all, and can be recycled and reused if dealt with properly. E-waste is unfortunately shipped to developing countries illegally, which is not a responsible or ethical way of managing the waste. In order to ensure that your e-waste is properly recycled you should find a recycling center near you. You can use this website http://search.earth911.com to find a local center and learn how to properly dispose of your electronic waste!
Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005
There's no question that copyright laws are pushed to the side when it comes to copying illegal things such as movies, music, and videos. People act as if there is nothing to risk, and it does not matter if you break the law. However, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which was passed in 2005, made these offenses just a little bit more serious. The law worked to make three offenses more defined and punishable than they were before. First, it made sure that no one was allowed to bring a camcorder into a movie and record it. This works to stop people from selling movies that they do not have legal copyrights to. Second, it worked to make sure that there was no illegal prerelease of movies that had not yet been released to the public. The act actually states that this offense is punishable by a large fine or even time in jail. Finally, it allowed certain technology to be installed into DVD players that permits the user to automatically skip or mute entire portions of a DVD, allowing them to get passed crude, violent, or inappropriate parts that they would not have wanted to watch. Basically, the law just worked to reinforce previous copyright laws that seemed to be pushed aside without users giving them any consideration.
Other Related Legislation
The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 is just one example of the several laws surrounding intellectual property rights. The U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 makes domain name cybersquatting illegal. This law was targeted at "cybersquatters" who register internet domain names containing trademarks with no intention of creating a legitimate website, but instead plan to sell the domain name to the trademark owner or a third party. For example, if a new trademarked company by the name of Shmauffle wanted to create a website called www.shmauffle.com, a person who bought the domain name, and is doing nothing with it, has to give it up to Schmauffle. Another major law is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(DMCA), which makes it illegal to circumvent antipiracy measures built into digital media and devices. Other laws, such as ones to increase penalties for illegally sharing music via internet, are proposed on a regular basis. Legislation regarding ethics has proven to be much more difficult to pass. For example, laws surrounding the distribution of indecent or offensive material online can be declared unconstitutional based the right to free speech. As a result, very few ethically oriented laws have been passed in recent years.