Computers have brought advancement in communication, technology and data handling. However, just as every coin has a flip side, computers come with a set of cons as well. Computer technology has raised several questions about its usage and its penetration in matters of national importance. To establish a code of conduct for the computer technology, basic computer ethics have been established. Norbert Weiner, was first to propound the theory of computer ethics and is hence known as 'father of computer ethics' in 1950. Since then, several points have been added to these due to constantly changing dynamics of social and economic life.
There are ten commandments of computer ethics
which are based on rules of morality that we follow in our day-to-day lives.
With great knowledge, comes the great power of using it responsibly. A computer gives you the power and the knowledge of a lot of information about someone else, a product, an organization or a service. This ethic dictates the user to responsibly use this information. Indulging in a crime of slander or defamation over a personal vendetta, just because you could lay hands on this information, is totally incorrect. Unethical use of information to destroy someone's reputation is an act of cowardice and is severely condemned by the computer ethics' rule book.
It is tempting to know what lies in the confidential files and folders. However, as a computer user, you do not interfere with personal files, documents, letters, folders and other such information. Failure to comply with non-interference, tantamount to snooping and stealing private information. Using an electronic device to find out classified information about any entity, is equal to robbery and fraud.
As more and more social networking sites, using a computer as a medium of mass communication is very easy. It takes one click to submit a life changing information about a subject on the Internet. If such little effort can change the public sentiment, it must be done with absolute credibility. Giving out incorrect information, will tarnish your image along with the victim's image. Using technology as a devil's advocate, drastically downsizes your credibility.
'Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid', is the correlating commandment. Just as buying pirated versions of books is a crime, using pirated or duplicated programs is cheating the designer of his/her intellectual copyrights. It is unethical to use a copied version and denying the person of his rightful royalty. Also, promoting these programs in the wrong names, is a selfish act and definitely worth condemning.
As computers are used by every organization to ease their work flow, important data is often stored on the same device. Often such workplaces use multi-user systems, which makes it easy to break into each others machines. This makes accessing confidential information easy. However, ethics implies that any information that is acquired secretly and maliciously, it is a fraudulent act.
Ethics form the basis of using computer technology for rightful purposes that bring about social harmony. Every technology comes with a set of pros and cons. It is the human interpretation that makes all the difference. As Albert Einstein aptly said, 'It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's blessings. Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors'.