The modern world depends on technology in a major way. The dominance of technology in day-to-day activities has made it necessary for stakeholders to formulate rules that govern this technology. Advancements in information technology come with various legal and ethical issues that are relevant to the current environment.
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When these issues are adequately addressed, they can enhance the use of information technology in everyday life. The fact that technology keeps changing adds to the complexity of the ethical and legal issues surrounding information technology.
There are several legal and ethical issues surrounding information technology including privacy, appropriate use, copyright laws, and consumer protection. It is important for all information technology users to be conversant with the current legal and ethical issues that apply to information technology.
One of the most significant ethical issues in information technology is that of appropriate use. Information technology has provided people with a platform in which they can accomplish almost anything. This means there are no limitations when it comes to the use of information technology tools such as the internet. Anyone can use information technology in a manner that serves his/her purposes.
In the past, the ethical issues concerning appropriate use of information technology have been manifested in a number of ways. For example, it is often debated whether social media websites should disallow terrorists from using their websites. The issues of appropriate use usually degenerate into legal issues.
Copyright qualifies as both a legal and ethical issue relating to Information technology. Information technology has been both a blessing and a curse for intellectual property owners. Intellectual property owners first used information technology as a promotional forum for their craft. However, the forum later changed into an illegal distribution point for most of their craft.
Information technology makes it easy to replicate, alter, and transmit intellectual property. Choosing to buy a property that you can easily copy free of charge is largely an ethical issue. This issue is further compounded by the fact that the copied items work in the same way as the originals.
Most governments have spelt out copyright laws that are aimed at protecting intellectual properties. For instance, the “Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988 makes it illegal to copy original intellectual property” (Bocij, Greasley & Hickie, 2009).
The privacy issue features prominently in the list of legal and ethical concerns of information technology. The issue of privacy in information technology has been addressed through various federal and state laws. These laws usually target all information technology users. However, some of these laws target companies and institutions that might have access to private information.
Most of these institutions are websites that collect personal data from their visitors. Some of this information can be sold or redistributed without the users’ explicit permission. The purpose of these laws is to ensure that any careless handling of private information does not harm citizens. Another privacy issue arises from monitoring of private internet use in schools and workplaces.
There are several legal and ethical concerns that surround the use of information technology. Although information technology users are beginning to recognize these issues, a lot needs to be done in order to streamline its use. However, addressing these issues requires a combined effort by the government, information technology users, and organizations.
Bocij, P, Greasley, A & Hickie, S 2009, Business information systems: Technology, development and management, Ft Press, New York.