Ethics are the principles that dictate right and wrong, and act as agents of decision making guidelines of behavior. On the other hand, laws are rules developed by an administrative system to combat crime. Most ethical issues are consequences of individuals trying to make decisions within or without the law that govern a system.
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When computers were first invented , scientists said that the whole of America would only need six computers for its operations. A couple of decades later, information highway has grown so fast that every household at least owns a computer. Computers have evolved from the bulky gadgets they used to be, to pocket size gadgets, making it easier for individuals to own.
Businesses are run easily through computers, for instance shopping malls and food joints have created sites through which people can select items and have them delivered to them. Marketing has been made easier as consultants don’t have to meet with their clients face to face.
Introduction of e-learning in most academic institutions has helped create more learning opportunities while saving time and space. Academic research by students has been simplified because they no longer need to carry bulky books. Besides, many job opportunities have been created for information technology specialists. Just like any inventions, Information technology has its merits and demerits.
Therefore, it is in order for governments to come up with strategies to regulate the use of information technology gadgets as a precautionary measure against information technology stress caused by security breach in the private or public network systems. Though the invention of internet networking has facilitated the transformation of the world into a global village, eminent threats on security of information systems is real. Thus, this reflective treatise analyses contemporary issues in information technology and multimedia.
A big wave of positive change was seen in various fields such as education, business, and politics among others. Unfortunately, Criminals saw this as an opportunity for fraudulent deals. For instance, hackers, crackers and stalkers took advantage of this wave of change to unlawfully access private information that could harm companies (Moore, 2006, pp.101-105). In response, the government introduced the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
As stipulated by this law, trespassers of protected computers were to be prosecuted. The CFAA merged with the National Information Infrastructure Act to create a compact regulatory law on information technology. Given that dependence levels on technology have increased, the advances in data storage have made the process cheaper, hence are used by local retail firms to identify customers.
For instance, the, major search firms such as Google, yahoo, and messenger generates more than 200million searches per year. Therefore, a lot of information can be found about an individual through their profiles and blogs. Information perceived as private can viewed in public social sites. This heightens ethical concerns because a lot of information is out and can be misused.
These laws made it illegal for any unauthorized person to access private computer network for financial gains. CFAA in its current jurisdiction protects users and operators against computer related crimes such as obtaining national security information through illegal entry into Federal computers with the aim of harming the state, and for the benefit of another state. This law is punishable whether information was acquired or not.
Besides, the law is clear on the illegal entry of a protected computer to access financial or credit information, including credit card fraud (Solove and Schwartz, 2009, p. 43). Moreover, unauthorized access of any protected computer used by the Federal government or the government computer agencies is also included. It can be considered as treason if one is found hacking into the state’s security systems.
Since data has become easily accessible, government security agencies have come up with detailed and advanced security systems. They can obtain information on suspects of terrorism and security threat. In the automated scan systems, possession of illegal weapon, drugs, and other material perceive harmful to the public can be detected.
At global level, intentionally damaging, either through corrupting by viruses or physical destruction of a protected computer and worms program that can make information disappear or even disable a system intentionally is punishable in the International Law Court. Physical destruction includes trashing or removing some parts of the machine to put a halt to normal functioning ability (Solove and Schwartz, 2009, p. 50).
Illegal trafficking of passwords or any other information which can be used to gain access to a protected computer for whatsoever purpose is illegal. This law was mainly put to stop the hackers from cracking passwords and accessing information systems for information, and using them to corrupt the information systems.
The above laws makes it illegal for one to access information without permission from the owner, the operator or the management information system, especially information on business operations or national defense. This covered all the data on atomic weapons manufacture and storage in the United States (Solove and Schwartz, 2009, p. 55).
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The electronic communications privacy act is a law which was passed to regulate efficiency of Information technology. This law makes it illegal to tap information without authorization. Besides, it protects information transmitted through wire, radio, electromagnetic waves, and optical wave tracks that affect business transactions of the state. Cyber Security Enhancement Act was passed together with the Homeland Security Act to increase penalties set in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
CSEA reduced the thoroughness of privacy and made it easier for the ISP to hand over information to the government whenever the relevant authority suspects unlawful dealing in the local networks.
This law passed harsh punishment on persons who knowingly committed computer crimes that resulted in physical injury or even death (Solove and Schwartz, 2009, p. 53).Those who have established their careers in business, should sensitize their employees ICT departments to safeguard the quality of the systems and hence protecting privacy of society.
The digital millennium copyright act mainly protects programs and soft wares against piracy. This law was put in place to help people who operated their businesses online from having their products duplicated. This law promotes the sale of soft wares and programs that help parents control what their children view in the interne (Tim and Paul, 2004, p.46).
Traditional laws can also be used to prosecute crimes committed on computers. For instance, Economic Espionage Act makes it illegal for one to steal information or ideas from another business through copyright or duplication for any reasons whatsoever. This law also spells out the boundaries of benefitting from other information systems in place by either competitors or perceived rival.
The Virginia internet policy act advocates for freedom of information, penalties on persons who commit computer crimes, and protection of children from explicit pornographic materials and indecent images on the internet. Before, children were used by perverts to boost business and the websites at the expense of their rights.
Another law is the software privacy and control act. This act deals with the criminals who register online under false identity, and commit online fraudulent crimes on the domain receptor. However, providing false information without getting involved in criminal activities is excused (Tim and Paul, 2004, p.46).
Despite the numerous efforts by the government, internet criminals somehow find a new route in committing cyber crimes frequently. Factually, it is not very easy to detect a cyber crime until its consequences surface. Smarter hacking minds have developed complex ideas of invading the snares and traps constantly revised by the government information technology experts (Warren and Louis, 1989, pp.89-97).
Even the most secured sites such as that of the homeland security and Microsoft report numerous attempts of hacking on their websites. Funnily, some of these crimes are only meant o draw attention and disapprove the security system of the targeted sites.
In the recent part, a group in America threatened to close down face book site for what they called breach of personal privacy and stalking by the government. Hackers have decided to corrupt the system with graphic images, just for satisfaction of having control over this global site (Trout, 2007, p.43).
This however does not mean that we are completely hopeless against finding solutions to deal with these intelligent minds who find pleasure in putting a halt to global growth and development on the facets of information exchange.
The existing laws may not be perfect, by some how are effective in minimizing the intensity of information system abuse. In the recent past, many successful abuse cases have passed through the court system on sms or email abuse. Governments still deal with threats to life and properties sent via email, as punishable under traditional laws.
Governments also need to introduce e-governance, like in Bangladesh, which make control and review of laws of the internet much easier to implement. Through this, governments will easily deal with the increasing innovative techniques of web piracy hacking and cracking (Tim and Paul, 2004, p.49).
The implementation of these laws may be hindered by administrative obstacles. For instance, lack of trust and faith on a government by its citizens may make fighting cyber crime a hectic procedure. Due to this, citizens may shy away from reporting instances of cyber crimes committed or fail to cooperate with the authority in investigations.
However, the overhead cost of adopting e-governance is very heavy on most governments. With the current unfavorable economic climate, the priorities of most governments are to ensure costs of any project are within manageable limits. Besides, there is an inadequate specialized skill in information technology across the globe to monitor and constantly track the ever complex crimes undergoing metamorphosis.
Moore, R. (2006) Cybercrime: Investigating High-Technology Computer Crime, 1st ed., Cincinnati, Ohio: Anderson Publishing
Solove, D. and Schwartz, P. (2009) Privacy, Information, and Technology, 2nd Ed., New York, NY: Aspen Publishers
Tim, J, and Paul, T. (2004) Hacktivism and Cyberwars, Alabama: Routledge
Trout, B. (2007) Cyber Law: A Legal Arsenal for Online Business, New York: World Audience, Inc.
Warren, R. and Louis, B. (1989) The Right to Privacy, 4 Harv. L. Rev. 193., Massachusetts: Harvard University Publications