Cyber Ethics

         Cyber Ethics is a branch of Ethics. It deals with the proper use of a extensive range of telecommunication and data storing devices. It becomes very relevant in our contemporary society. There are different ethical theories like, Utilitarianism, Nature, Virtue, non-consequentialism, etc. and each of these theories has its own unique principles. These theories and principles bring significant characteristics to the decision-making process. Although all of the ethical theories attempt to follow ethical principles in order to be applicable and valid by themselves; yet each theory falls short with complex flaws and failings. For example, utilitarianists may say social networking is ethically moral, for it benefits most people in India. The deontologists would say social networking is morally incorrect because many youth fail to do their duties; instead they are busy with computers. For deontologists, duty is more important than building a good relationship, so social networking is immoral. But where do I stand?

What is Cyber Ethics?
Cyber Ethics is the study of moral, legal and social issues on cyber technology. It examines the impact that cyber technology has for our social, legal, and moral systems. It also evaluates the social policies and laws that have been framed in response to issues generated by the development and use of cyber technology.  Hence, there is a reciprocal relationship here. Cyber ethics is also called as computer ethics. The very words suggest the study of ethical issues limited to computing machines, or to computing professionals. Cyber ethics, therefore, is more precise than Internet ethics, which is limited only to ethical issues affecting Computer Networks. Let us now discuss some cyber issues.

Social networking
A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Some of the popular Social Networking sites are Facebook, Twitter, Nexopia, Bebo, Kontakte, etc. etc. From Utilitarian view, social networking sites are ethical because it is used to build relationship and create greater good for greater number of people through interaction with email, Facebook, Google talks, etc. Question should be raised as to whether social networking sites give is intense happiness and how long is the happiness received and how does it helps people to prosper for the greatest number? If the happiness is intense, lasting and help others then Jeremy Bentham would say that it is morally right, because the effect is good for the greatest number.
According to Virtue perspective many of the communication involves face to face communications. Yet social networking is not ethical right because using twitter or Facebook etc. could harm moral values, as they don’t allow time for compassion and admiration, etc. and people are not getting help because when they need help the other user might turn of the computer.

Copy Right and Downloading
When something is copyrighted, it means that someone else owns it. It means that you and I cannot copy or distribute it without the owner permission. It is dishonest and illegal to download copyrighted any materials. When you see a symbol-C- it means that the material is copyrighted.
Using resources in any manner that board’s policy, federal state or local law including unauthorized copying or transmission of software are immoral acts. But these acts from the utilitarian perspectives with reference to Indian situation are allowed because it served the greatest happiness for the greatest people.  For the deontology any action which fails to fulfill the four conditions of double effect is considered as immoral act.

Cyber Terrorism
Cyber terrorism is someone who intimidates or coerces a government or an organization to advance one’s political or social objectives by launching computers-based attack against the government.  Parker defines it, as an act of terrorism committed through the use of cyber space or computer resources. It is the use of Internet based attacks in terrorist activities, including acts of deliberate, large scale disruption of computer networks, especially of personal computers attacked to the Internet, by means of tools such as computer virus. All the ethical theories except egoism would consider this act as immoral because it serves only for individual benefits

Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction. Initially though people go to such sights out of curiosity. Some researches done say that easy access of pornography in various ways especially through Internet is one of the major reasons for the increase of crimes related to sex. Pornography has often stirred ethical controversy.
 One may ask, what is wrong in watching pros, which give a lot of pleasure and even control rape cases? The addiction of porn leads to action of rape, molestation, etc.  Ethically speaking we have no right to use others to satisfy our hidden desires. If we analyses it according to Kant’s or virtue ethical principles, I must act in such a way that my way of acting could be considered as a universal law. The action of watching porn promotes porn too that is victimizing many innocent who become prey for trafficking and sex trade. It is also against Martin Buber’s I thou relationship because it treats the other as sex object. So it is immoral act.

 Hacking is the computer equivalent of breaking and entering. A computer hacker uses one’s skills to gain unauthorized access to another computer or computer network and once a person get inside, can wreak havoc by altering important information, deleting essential files, or just crashing the whole system. Many hackers, who break into commercial web sites, are looking for customers' private financial data (including bank account and credit card numbers). A hacker, who causes a network to crash, can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity. Some terrorist plans may be hacked by the government agents resulting benefits for the country and the world. This act of hacking is good for utilitarianism, so it is moral hack. This act is justified. But from virtue, non-consequentialist and nature perspectives, the very act is immoral though it may result greatest benefit for most people.

The above we saw that different theories and principles bring significant characteristics to the decision-making process. Although all of the ethical theories attempt to follow the ethical principles in order to be applicable and valid by themselves, each theory falls short with complex flaws and failings. Each theory emphasizes on different aspects of an ethical dilemma which probably lead to the most ethically correct resolution according to the guidelines within the ethical theory itself. So, before making any decision on whether an act is morally right or wrong, one needs to abreast all the theories of general Ethics and knows the situation or circumstances.

What I learn for this Ethics course is that all ethical theories are based on the previously explained ethical principles. Each theory emphasizes different aspects of an ethical dilemma and lead to the most ethically correct resolution according to the guidelines within the ethical theory itself. Each theory has its own uniqueness. One, therefore, needs to necessarily analyze every issue in all the perspectives to make a moral decision reliable. In other words, one needs to combine all the theories.
We are fortunate to have a variety of ethical theories that provide a substantial framework when we try to make any ethically correct answer. When one understands each individual theory, including its strengths and weaknesses, one can make the most informed decision. By analyzing all the theories, one would say that using different ethical theories in combination, one will able to use a variety of ways to analyze a situation in order to reach the most ethically correct decision possible. That would help a person to understand in a more holistic manner.

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