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ICT Validation: Ethics

Ethical principles relating to ICT and IT Management.

Ethics is a synthesis of three elements, (a) law, (b) morals, (c) and personal conduct:  

A)  Is it legal?   For example, it is illegal to download and install pirated software.  Maintaining good licensing and documentation protects an organization from potential litigation. 

B)  Is it moral?  Society shapes issues of right and wrongand people are expected to uphold common values.  For example, it is unacceptable to abuse administrative authority to look up co-workers' salaries.   

C)  Is it something you would do?  There are circumstances when an action may be both legal, and immoral.  Conversely, a moral remedy may be unlawful.  The controversy surrounding systems administrator, Eric Snowden, serves as a relevant example for ICT ethics and personal conduct.

Snowden is accused of stealing and publishing classified government information.  Reuters reports that Eric Snowden used his role as a systems administrator to persuade co-workers to collect passwords (McNamara, 2013).  

However, Snowden maintains his innocence as a whistle blower.  Snowden argues that the National Security Agency (NSA) illegally collects phone records of millions of Americans (Wiebe, 2013).  Snowden's motivation may be moral, but his actions were illegal.

In a quasi-related case, U.S. Federal District Court Judge, Richard Leon, ruled that the the NSA phone program is likely unconstitutional (Gerstien, 2013).  The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the decision.  The NSA actions are legally unethical if upper courts uphold Leon's decision.  The director of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander had previously stated, "I think what we're doing to protect American citizens here is the right thing" (Michaels, J., 2013).

Some view Snowden as a hero, and other's view him as a traitor.  In regard to ICT, Snowden was an unethical system administrator.  Snowden lacks integrity because he abused his administrative privileges by trolling confidential data.
   

ICT is an institutional process that contributes value to organizations (Brynjolfsson, 2003).  Information Technology (IT) is responsible for an organizations' systems, services, and support. Typical responsibilities include:
  • ICT related purchasing.  
  • Maintaining sensitive data on file servers, databases, and backups.
  •  Ensuring the electronic privacy for all individuals within the organization.
  •  Intellectual property and software licensing.
  •  Preventing digital fraud.
 Network administrators have the "digital" keys to everything on the network.  Network administration requires ethical conduct to ensure standards of integrity, confidentiality, and availability. 

Why did you create this artifact? 

This artifact demonstrates the ethical principles of ICT.  I chose to review The Adventures of an IT Leader, by Robert Austin, Richard Nolan, and Shannon O'Donnell, for a class project.  The story examines typical ICT challenges and presents examples of effective leadership skills to overcome them.  In each situation, the IT leader had to navigate through a variety of ethical issues.   

References:

Brynjolfsson, E. (2003, July). The IT Productivity Gap. Optimize Magazine (21). Retrieved from http://ebusiness.mit.edu/erik/Optimize/pr_roi.html
Gerstein, J.,  (2013, December 16th).  Retrieved from:  http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/national-security-agency-phones-judge-101203.html
McNamara, J. (2013, November 8th) Retrieved from:  http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/snowden-used-sys-admin-role-collect-passwords-reuters
Michaels, J. (2013, June 13th).  Retrieved from:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/12/alexander-nsa-cyber-snowden/2415217/
Wiebe, K., (2013, December 17th).  Retrieved from:    http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/opinion/wiebe-snowden-amnesty/