ITGS Syllabus

Monday, October 02, 2006

Topic 145

Ethical considerations of control as the result of using communications technologies by Harsh

The topic makes us think of invasion of privacy, which is related with today’s technology. The phrase “communication technology” refers to phone, e-mail, fax etc. “Control” refers to a certain organization or person controlling the use of this technology. It also refers to invasion of privacy which arises from the abuse of “communication technology.”

First of all, let’s define “ethics”. Ethics is defined as “moral values that govern a person’s behavior.” So in this case, we are dealing with moral values that are related with invasion of privacy through the use of phone and e-mail. One thing is for sure that invasion of privacy without the other person’s approval is a serious offence and hence should not be done. Yet people still do it and try their best to find out what’s going on in other person’s life.

In case of e-mail, there are thousands of hackers who try to figure out the passwords to people’s e-mail every second! And then there’s the people who pay these hackers to figure out the passwords. Why would people pay? Because they can’t do it themselves and they really need to find out if their girfriend is cheating on them or not. There is no doubt that having access to someone’s email account can reveal a great amount of information about that person! Therefore, jealous husbands and wives try to gain access to their partners’ e-mail accounts! Is that ethical? Of course not! That is invasion of privacy and I am sure there’s some kind of law against it in the USA.

However, things are a little different when it comes to phone. There are other ways people “try to control” other person’s life through phone. The most popular one (especially in India) is just listening through the base speakerphone if the other person is talking on a cordless phone! My mom’s done it quite a few times, and has gained quite a lot of valuable information related to what I do at school. Then you can mess with the cables and connect it with yours and hear what the other person’s talking. And you can always somehow get a conference call going and while one party knows you are there, the other party doesn’t and he/she keeps talking without knowing that you are hearing everything! Just like e-mail, this kind of behavior is NOT RIGHT!

You cannot invade someone else’s privacy, at any cost. If it is absolutely necessary then at least let the person know before you do it. Or be able to answer questions in the court of law! Invasion of privacy is a serious offence and should not be taken lightly. Not only is it ethically wrong, it can also cause a lot of harm to the other party.

Ethical considerations of control as the result of using communications technologies by Isaku

With the progress in information technology over the last fifty years, the methods of communication have drastically increased. This indeed marks an important stage, not only in technology, but also in evolution of mankind. The emerge of a new communication method always accompanies an important development in the specie of man. The first was hand gesture. Communication of hand gesture was inevitably created by primates as they shifted from a solitary to a group cooperative life style.

The next was speech. Speech was a need by the primates who had by then conformed with the co operational life style that they adopted. Therefore there was a need for a communication system which could transfer more sophisticated and complicated ideas than body language. Thus this marked an important turning point in evolution, as it separated mankind from all other animals showing an intellectual progress.

Next came writing. Writing was needed as a method to preserve man’s ideas, enabling further progress by passing on established knowledge to the future. Many centuries later, the telegram was invented, allowing fast long distant communications. Although the telegram was not a direct reason for human development, it came out almost at the same time as one of the most important incidents in human development, which was the industrial revolution. Next came the telephone/radio communication.

This was a dramatic progress in technology, one that is comparable to the aircraft, as it connected people from distant countries together. It also gave some people a new identity as residents of earth, rather than residents of one’s country. After that, we were introduced the most convenient and useful method of all; email.

Email was a result in the increased sophistication of the internet, which was therefore allowed a variety of functions. Email carried the pros of the previous communication methods, including the long range communication of the telegram, the saving function of writing. Such a convenient form of communication symbolized the IT revolution, which is still in progress today.

As stated above, communication methods hold an important role in terms of daily life and the progress of mankind. And because communication holds such importance, it is a remorseful fact that some organizations have begun to use our communication to force control over us. This is evident from the frequent use of wiretapping by not only criminal purpose, but with legal authorization by the government.

Although the use of wiretapping has been somewhat restricted in respect to privacy, the government was able to gain the ability to monitor our conversations using the excuse of countering terrorists/criminals. If misused, wiretapping can become a fearful tool which can easily rob us of our privacy, and hurl us into the hands of an authoritarian police state. Here comes the question of morality.

Up to what point can the government use wiretapping with out invading human rights? What is the border line between peace keeping and control? As this is a question with ambiguous answers and can be interpreted in many ways, we can not simply keep the government from using wiretapping against us. What we can do is keep cautious measures when using long distance communication.

Avoid mentioning valuable information that can be used against you on long distance communication tools, even if you are talking to a person close to you. As petty individuals, we alone do not hold the power of keeping the government from abusing their power. It is only when we as a whole clearly convey our position, and oppose to these inhumane acts then we make a difference.


Post a Comment

<< Home