WPI Social Implications Of Computing 2008 D Term
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Assignment 1 - 2008-03-13 ] Assignment 2 - 2008-03-17 ] Assignment 3 - 2008-03-20 ]
Assignment 4 - 2008-03-24 ] Assignment 5 - 2008-03-27 ] Assignment 6 - 2008-03-31 ]
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Assignment 10 - 2008-04-14 ] Assignment 11 - 2008-04-17 ] Due Dates ]
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Christopher Ramsley

The Guards Themselves

On page 46 of A Gift of Fire, the author explains that in 1996, it was found that the White House maintained a database of 200,000 people, listing over a hundred fields of information. This violates a few key principles found in Appendix A of the same book, and the programmers responsible did not act ethically according to this ethical code. In the public principle, the people involved did not act with the public interest, even if they thought they did it to protect the country. They instead violated laws that protect the privacy and individuality of citizens. They participated in the collection and storage of information that was obtained without consent, which was illegal under the Privacy Act of 1974. In the area of the profession principle, the programmers responsible for the database did not promote an environment favorable to acting ethically, nor did they promote any positive public knowledge about their profession. Instead their actions encourages unethical behavior and demonstrated a lack of ethics within their profession to the general public. Likewise, in the area of the principle of the self, the programmers did not promote an ethical approach to software development, nor did they find that acting unethically was inconsistent with the correct development of software.

It is possible that the programmers acted in the interest of public safety, and that they are justified because they were trying to protect citizens, but in doing so, they violated personal freedoms that all citizens are promised. This is a breaking of an agreement without notification at the very least, and a violation of the inherent rights of human beings at the worst.

by: Keith A. Pray
Last Modified: November 12, 2007 4:16 PM
© 2007 - 1975 Keith A. Pray.
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