UMGC Application of Decision Making Framework to IT Related Ethical Issue Discussion

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explore and apply a decision making framework to an IT-related ethical issue. A framework provides a methodical and systematic approach for decision making. UMGC Module 2 - Methods of Ethical Analysis (see LEO Content – Readings for week 2) describes three structured frameworks that may be used for ethical analysis, namely Reynolds Seven-Step Approach, Kidder’s Nine Steps, and Spinello’s Seven-Step Process. There are several ways described in UMGC Module 2 to systematically approach an ethical dilemma, and while each of the frameworks described has its merits, each will result in an ethical decision if straightforwardly, objectively,  and honestly applied.

In addition, consider the ethical theories described in Module 1 – Introduction to Theoretical Ethical Frameworks (see LEO Content – Readings for week 1)which help decision makers find the right balance concerning the acceptability of and justification for their actions. A separate write-up of the ethical theory that supports your decision is part of the following requirements.

For this paper, the following five elements must be addressed:

Describe a current IT-related ethical issue: Since this is a paper exercise, not a real-time situation, you may want to construct a brief scenariowhere this issue comes into play, and thus causes an ethical dilemma.  The dilemma may affect you, your family, your job, or your company; or it may be a matter of public policy or law that affects the general populace. See the list below for a list of suggested issues, which may be a source of ethical dilemmas.

Define a concise problem statement that is extracted from the above description or scenario. It is best if you define a specific problem caused by the dilemma, that needs a specific ethical decision to be made, that will solve the dilemma.   Be aware that if it is a matter of public policy or law, that it may require a regulatory body or congressional approval to take action to implement a solution.

  • Analyze your problem using one of the structured decision-making frameworks chosen from Module 2. Make sure that you identify the decision-making framework utilized. In addition, the steps in the decision-making framework selected must be used as major headings in the Analysis section.  

Consider and state the impact of the decision that you made on an individual, an organization, stakeholders, customers suppliers, and the environment, as applicable!

State and discuss the applicable ethical theory from Module 1 that supports your decision.

  • Concerning your paper: 

Prepare a minimum 3- 5 page, double-spaced paper and submit it to the LEO Assignments Module as an attached Microsoft Word file.

Use headings for each topic criteria

  • Provide appropriate American Psychological Association (APA) source citations for all sources you use.  In addition to critical thinking and analysis skills, your paper should reflect appropriate grammar and spelling, good organization, and proper business-writing style.

Include a Cover Page with your Name, the UMGC/Name of the Class, and the Title of the Paper.

For example, Kidder’s approach has nine steps, which are:

  • Recognize that there is a moral issue.

Determine the actor (whose moral issue is it?).

  • Gather the relevant facts.

Test for right-versus-wrong issues.

Test for right-versus-right paradigms (what sort of dilemma is this?).

Apply the resolution principles (ends-based, rule-based, or care-based).

Investigate the "trilemma" options (look for common ground or compromise).

  • Make the decision.
  • Revisit and reflect on the decision. (Kidder, 1995, p. 183-187)
  • Reminder: Each of the steps for whatever framework that you select must be a major heading in the Analysis section of your paper.
  • Here are some suggested issues for you to consider, the additional text is designed to help you flesh out the issue:

Privacy on the Web: What is happening now in terms of privacy on the Web? Think about recent abuses and improvements. Describe and evaluate Web site policies, technical and privacy policy protections, and current proposals for government regulations.

Personal Data Privacy Regulations in Other Countries: Report on personal data privacy regulations, Web site privacy policies, and governmental/law enforcement about access to personal data in one or more countries; e.g., the European Union.  This is especially relevant as our global economic community expands and we are more dependent on non-US clients for e-business over the Internet.

  • Computer-Based Crimes: Discuss the most prevalent types of computer crimes, such as Phishing. Analyze why and how these can occur. Describe protective measures that might assist in preventing or mitigating these types of crimes.
  • Government Surveillance of the Internet: The 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001 brought many new laws and permits more government surveillance of the Internet. Is this a good idea?
  • The Digital Divide: Does it exist; what does it look like; and, what are the ethical considerations and impact?
  • Privacy in the Workplace - Monitoring Employee Web and E-Mail Use: What are current opinions concerning the monitoring of employee computer use. What policies are employers using? Should this practice of monitoring, be authorized or not?
  • Medical Privacy: Who owns your medical history? What is the state of current legislation to protect your health information? Is it sufficient?  There are new incentives with federal stimulus financing for health care organizations to develop and implement digital health records.
  • Software Piracy: How many of you have ever made an unauthorized copy of software, downloaded software or music (free or for a fee), or used copyrighted information without giving proper credit or asking permission? Was this illegal or just wrong? How is this being addressed?
  • 9. Consumer Profiling: With every purchase you make, every Web site you visit, your preferences are being profiled. What is your opinion regarding the legal authority of these organizations to collect and aggregate this data?
  • Biometrics & Ethics: Your fingerprint, retinal-vessel image, and DNA map can exist entirely as a digital image in a computer, on a network, or in the infosphere.  What new and old ethical problems must we address?
  • Social Networking:  What are some of the ethical issues surrounding using new social networks?  How are these now considered for business use?  What are business social communities?  Are new/different protections and security needed for these networks?

Gambling in Cyberspace: Is it legal? Are there national regulations and/or licensing? What are the oversight and enforcement requirements? Are there international implications? What are the social and public health issues?

Pornography in Cyberspace: For example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling protecting as free speech computer-generated child pornography

Medicine and Psychiatry in Cyberspace: Some considerations include: privacy issues; security; third-party record-keeping; electronic medical records; access to information, even by the patient (patient rights); access to information by outsiders without patient knowledge; authority to transfer and/or share information. Are there any policies proposed by professional organizations?

Counterterrorism and Information Systems: Your protection versus your rights

Open-source Software versus Closed-source Software: Ethical ramifications and impact on intellectual property law

  1. Creative Commons Licenses: How do they work and what are the legal and ethical impacts and concerns?
  2. Universal ID card: What is the general position of the U.S. government about issuing each individual a unique ID card? Which individual U.S. government agencies have already provided a unique ID card? What steps have been taken to include individual ID information electronically in passports? How is privacy and security provided?
  3. Video Games: Does playing video games distract from everyday responsibilities? Do video games correlate with real world violence? Why do game creators continually increase the violence of video games? What is video game addiction?
  4. Cyberbullying: What is cyberbullying and what can be done to stop it?
  5. Net Neutrality: What is the current position of the federal government and is it fair to all? of Ethical TheoriesIn module 1, we acquired a foundation in classical ethical theories. In this module, we will learn how to apply this knowledge to ethical challenges in today's business world and, more specifically, to the area of information technology.As we learned in module 1, the main traditional ethical theories tend to be either rule-based (deontological) or consequentialist (teleological). Both types of theories provide a framework for deciding whether actions are right, depending upon the consequences that result from the action (consequentialist) or whether the action follows the relevant rules for ethical behavior (deontological). Traditional ethical theories were intended to apply universally to ethical dilemmas and obviously didn't factor in issues such as marketplace competition, stockholders, and today's ever-changing world of information technology. Today's IT manager needs to be able to address ethical issues and to find resolutions in concrete business terms rather than engage in a philosophical ethical debate. However, we can use those theories to guide our ethical decision-making process.In addition to the ethical theories already presented, business ethics attempts to take traditional ethics and apply them practically to a business context. The normative theories of business ethics (NTBE), introduced to the information systems community in large part by Smith and Hasnas, provide three basic approaches to ethical problems: stockholder, stakeholder, and social contract theories (Smith, 2002). In this section, we will introduce those theories as well as make connections to classical theory.Normative Theories of Business EthicsAs its name indicates, the stockholder theory of NTBE focuses on making ethical decisions that benefit stockholders. According to this theory, because stockholders have invested in the company for their own profit, actions taken by the company should be focused on benefiting the bottom line. A manager or employee has a responsibility to use corporate resources in ways that do not take away from the stockholders' benefits. Stockholder theory instructs managers to act within legal constraints. It does not instruct or encourage managers to ignore ethical constraints.Stakeholder theory expands a manager's responsibility beyond the stockholders to include anyone with an interest in the firm. This could include employees, customers, stockholders, and potentially even competitors. Given that there is a potential conflict among the interests of the various stakeholders, the manager's challenge is to balance those interests and to provide the best possible solution that does not substantially infringe on any individual stakeholder group.According to social contract theory, businesses have ethical obligations to benefit society by fulfilling customer and employee interests within the generally accepted rules or codes. If there were a hypothetical contract between society and a group of individuals who wished to establish a business, what would the latter need from society—and what would society expect in return? The terms of this hypothetical contract would outline both those sets of expectations. Therefore, in giving the group of individuals rights to act as an organization, use resources, and hire employees, a society would have expectations related to fair treatment of employees, appropriate uses of natural resources, and so on. (Smith, 2002).Figure 2.1 illustrates the various links between business ethics and traditional ethical theories to show the continuing relevance of the latter. To find out more about the connections between NTBE and traditional ethics, click on the titles under Normative Theories of Business Ethics and read the information contained in the pop-up.Figure 2.1Linkages between Traditional Ethical and Business Ethics Frameworks(Adapted from Smith, H. J. (2002). Ethics and Information Systems: Resolving the Quandaries. The DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems (Summer 2002), p. 5.)As you can see from the dotted lines in figure 2.1, the modern and traditional elements do have connections and relationships despite their various origins and applications. As you become more familiar with each of these areas, the similarities and differences will become clearer.Try This 2.1: Booksellers, Inc - Please go to My Tools -> Self Assessments-> to complete this self assessment.Methods for Ethical AnalysisNow that you've had some practice in working through an ethical decision-making scenario, let's look at various structured approaches for addressing such situations. There are several ways to systematically approach an ethical dilemma. Each has merits, and each will result in an ethical decision if straightforwardly and honestly applied. As you will see, the various approaches are similar yet have somewhat different slants.Reynolds Seven-Step ApproachGeorge Reynolds uses a seven-step ethical decision-making approach that is summarized in table 2.1.Table 2.1Reynolds' Seven-Step Ethical Decision-Making ApproachStepsDescription1. Get the factsBefore proceeding, ensure that you have assembled the relevant facts regarding the ethical issue that you're addressing.2. Identify the stakeholdersIdentify who is impacted by this situation and its subsequent resolution. Define what their role is as well as what would be the best-case outcome for each stakeholder group.3. Consider the consequencesWhat are the benefits and/or harm that could come from your decision to you individually, the stakeholders, and the organization as a whole?4. Evaluate the various guidelines, policies, and principlesFirst look to any applicable laws, then to any existing corporate policies, ethical codes, and individual principles. Look at the application of traditional ethical theories as well as Normative Theories of Business Ethics.5. Develop and evaluate optionsYou may identify several possible solutions and may find it useful to support each with key principles that support the recommendation. Your chosen solution should be ethically defendable and, at the same time, meet the stakeholder and organizational needs and obligations.6. Review your decisionReview your decision in relationship to your personal and the organization's values. Would others see this as a good and right decision?7. Evaluate the resultsDid the final outcome achieve the desired results? This is an important step to help develop and increase your decision-making abilities.(Adapted from Reynolds, G. W. (2003). Ethics in Information Technology, pp.115-118.)Kidder's Nine-StepsIn his book How Good People Make Tough Choices, Rushworth Kidder presents a similar process; however, he defines four dilemmas by which various moral issues could be categorized (Kidder, 1995, p.18).Truth versus loyaltyIndividual versus communityShort-term versus long-termJustice versus mercyKidder's Nine-Steps are:Recognize that there is a moral issue.Determine the actor (whose moral issue is it?).Gather the relevant facts.Test for right-versus-wrong issues.Test for right-versus-right paradigms (what sort of dilemma is this?).Apply the resolution principles (ends-based, rule-based, or care-based).Investigate the "trilemma" options (look for common ground or compromise).Make the decision.Revisit and reflect on the decision. (Kidder, 1995, p. 183-187)Kidder places "recognize that there is a moral issue" as the first step in the analysis for two reasons. First, it helps to ensure that issues receive the attention required. Secondly, it encourages a person to adequately address moral questions and distinguish moral issues from other situations involving social conventions or contradictory values that could be "economic, technological, or aesthetic" rather than moral issues (Kidder, 1995, p. 183). After evaluating for legal compliance, Kidder advocates some common sense checks such as "How would you feel if what you are about to do showed up tomorrow morning on the front pages of the nation's newspapers?" Then, he evaluates the issue to identify which of the four dilemmas listed above apply to gain better clarity around the dilemma, identifying the conflict at hand. (Kidder, 1995, p. 184).Spinello's Seven-Step ProcessRichard Spinello provides a similar seven-step process for ethical analysis designed specifically for IT professionals, and it is geared toward development of public policy and law. His sixth step entails adding an original normative conclusion: what should happen? His seventh step includes the questions: "What are the public-policy implications of this case and your normative recommendations? Should the recommended behavior be prescribed through policies and laws?" This approach can be useful for IT organizations seeking to better structure and define policies and procedures (Spinello, 1997, p. 45).Here are all Seven-Steps:Identify and formulate the basic ethical issues in each case. Also, consider legal issues and whether ethical and legal issues are in conflict.What are your first impressions, your moral intuition about the problem?Consult appropriate formal guidelines, the ethical and/or professional codes.Analyze the issues from the viewpoint of one or more of the three ethical frameworks.Do the theories lead to a single solution, or do they offer competing alternatives? If competing, which principle or avenue of reasoning should take precedence?What is your normative conclusion—what should happen?What are the public-policy implications of this case and your normative recommendations? Should the recommended behavior be prescribed through policies and laws?Many common business activities, such as process improvement, problem solving, and project management, have defined approaches to support their process. To effectively make ethical decisions, it also is extremely useful to have a structure to approach the problem. As a beginning step, have an understanding of the available methodologies for approaching the issue in an objective manner. Eventually, skill and experience in applying the process will enable you to explain your process and subsequent recommendations to other stakeholders.One of the challenges for those working in IT is the lack of precedence in some situations. The more you can apply a well-grounded methodology when faced with a new or ambiguous ethical dilemma, the greater the likelihood that you can come to an ethical solution that will effectively balance individual, organizational, and/or social concerns with good business.Ultimately, you need to use an analytical approach that works for you and for your organization. It may be one of the approaches we've discussed, or it may be a hybrid. Individual values will also drive the approach. In addition to these theories, corporations and professional associations have attempted to provide guidance through corporate codes of conduct or professional codes of ethics. Corporate codes of conduct typically are intended to apply to all employees and, therefore, do not specifically address IT issues. However, some IT organizations establish additional policies related to software use and so on. Professional associations, such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), have established code of ethics for its members to help guide their activities.Many of the ethical issues that arise within the field of information technology fall into similar areas. Richard Mason, a professor in Management Information Systems, has identified four ethical areas in the Information Age that have been widely accepted as key issues (Mason, 1986):PrivacyAccuracyPropertyAccessibilityThese will be discussed in more detail in module 3.Try This 2.2: Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics - - Please go to My Tools -> Self Assessments-> to complete this self assessment.With the information presented in this module, you should be able to apply a structured approach to an ethical dilemma. The scenario presented below under Try This 2.3 will provide you with an opportunity to do just that. When you've completed that exercise, you'll be ready to move on to the Self-Assessment.Try This 2.3: BuyItHere Ethical Dilemma - Please go to My Tools -> Self Assessments-> to complete this self assessment.ReferencesBarquin, R. C. (1992). Ten commandments of computer ethics. Retrieved August 19, 2005, from, R. M. (1995). How good people make tough choices: Resolving the dilemmas of ethical living. New York: Simon and Schuster.Mason, R. O. (1986). Four ethical issues of the information age. Management Information Systems Quarterly, 10, (1), 3.Reynolds, G. W.  (2003). Ethics in information technology. Boston: Thomson Learning, Inc.Smith, H. J. (2002). Ethics and information systems: Resolving the quandaries. Database for Advances in Information Systems, 33, (3).Spinello, R. A. (1997).Case studies in information and computer ethics. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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Application of a Decision-Making Framework to an IT-Related Ethical Issue

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Application of a Decision-Making Framework to an IT-Related Ethical Issue
Information technology has brought about various benefits in the modern world that
have helped ease the lives of more people worldwide. It has played a crucial role in people's
daily activities, such as quick access to information from the internet, easy transfer of data
and information across the World Wide Web, and easier interaction of people from all
corners of the earth. Additionally, information technology has also significantly impacted
business operations and activities. However, the technology has posed various challenges
regarding the ethicality of emerging issues related to the technology, such as information
access and sharing, data privacy, and malicious activity such as multiple forms of hacking,
phishing, and other cyber-crimes (Wahlgren 2020). Therefore, various frameworks have been
developed to provide viable and suitable decision-making procedures that should be applied
in certain situations. The frameworks provide a methodological and systematic approach for
effective decision-making on unethical issues arising in the information technology field.
Some of the most used and applied frameworks include the Reynolds Seven-Step Approach,
Kidder’s Nine Steps, and Spinello’s Seven-Step Process. Each of the frameworks has a
different approach on how unethical issues should be addressed and solved.
IT-Related Ethical Issue
Recently, the number of workers employed to collect, handle and distribute data and
information has surpassed any other occupation with many computers connected. One of the
most outstanding issues regard...

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