Sources of Ethical Advice

Professional bodies can be an important source of ethical advice for computing practitioners, but there are other sources that also deserve consideration.

The Computer Ethics Institute is a useful resource for identifying, assessing and responding to ethical issues associated with the advancement of information technologies in society. Through advisory and consultative activities, research and education, and public outreach, CEI has stimulated awareness of the issues likely to arise as technology continues to develop. Their Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics provide a highly effective code of ethics for the proper use of information technology:

  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.
  3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
  7. Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
  9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
  10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

An interesting summary of important concepts in Computer Ethics can be found at:

The Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR) at De Montfort University, Leicester aims to “address the social and ethical impacts of information, communication and technologies through research, education and consultancy”.

CCSR was formed in 1995 and is the only UK-based centre of its kind. It is recognised worldwide for its applied research expertise. CCSR has established the ETHICOMP conference series, providing a regular European forum to debate the social responsibility implications of ICT since 1995.

CCSR has created a website which is now recognised as the world’s leading reference site in
this field and is visited by thousands of people each day. The Centre has undertaken funded research for a range of stakeholders including private organisations, professional bodies, NGOs, the UK government and the EU.

Next: Social, Political and Environmental Computing Principles