Introduction to Computer Information Systems and Ethics

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?


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.

Young people use cell phones so often that they might not even realize that using them on a test is cheating.

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.

do YOU have computer ethics?