Principles of Professional Ethics
Professional ethics refer to the principles that administer the conduct of a person or group in the business environment. For instance, professional ethics put forward all of the rules on how an individual should act towards other individuals and foundations in the business environment (1). Ethical principles reinforce various professional codes of conduct. Professional codes of conduct are something that is based on the above mentioned professional ethical principles and serve as the basis for prescribing the needed standard of behavior for professionals (2). The intention behind the development of codes of conduct is to serve as the guiding principle for the least standard of suitable behavior in a professional context. Here in this report, professional ethics will be discussed referring to two topics. The chosen topics will be interpreted by considering principles such as Ethical Egoism, Rule Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Act Utilitarianism.
Invasion of privacy refers to the indefensible intrusion into the private life of another without his or her consent. This takes under its purview four distinct causes of action and in this, the states vary on both whether they identify these causes of action and which components are required to prove them. There are four most common types of invasions of privacy that include appropriation of name or likeness, , intrusion upon seclusion, false light and lastly public disclosure of private facts (3). Digitalization is the new normal and with this, there is the concern of breach of privacy. Some common examples of invasion of privacy are deception, misappropriation, intrusion, compromising confidentiality, and more. In the present times, web applications or applications, in general, collect much of the user data. The users are unaware of the way this information is used. This can be taken under the purview of invasion of privacy.
How does the invasion of privacy affect individuals?
Ethical egoism refers to the theory that one’s self should be the motivation and goal of his actions. There are two different variants of ethical egoism that are descriptive and normative. Descriptive ethical egoism suggests that individuals are generally motivated by their own interests and desires (4). Normative ethical egoism suggests that individuals should be so motivated, irrespective of what motivates their behavior at present. People need to do what interest them. Here in this context of the invasion of privacy, it can be said that the users themselves accept the policies of the applications and therefore it can be said to be morally ethical. They use the applications for their use and purpose and thus this can be justified to a great extent using ethical egoism.
Act Utilitarianism refers to the theory of morality that is supportive of the actions that foster happiness and is against the actions that cause unhappiness or harm. If directed towards social, political, or lastly economic decisions then this philosophy would aim for the upliftment of the society. As per Act Utilitarianism, an action turns out to be right if that results in the happiness of the public as a whole (6). In this context of the invasion of privacy, it can be said that the long-term results hint at a negative impact on individuals. Data breaches, loss of sensitive information, and more certainly do not in any way lead to happiness. Thus, as per this ethics, the invasion of privacy that is happening in the present times cannot be justified in any way. The applications developers need to be more transparent when it comes to how the user data is being used or where is it being stored.
Types and Impact of Invasion of Privacy
Rule utilitarianism lay stress on the fact that rules and practices should be followed and suggests that being strict with compliance is something that maximizes overall utility. In simple terms, it says that one can produce more useful results by following certain rules than by carrying out individual actions (8). In this context of the invasion of privacy, this ethics can be agreed to as privacy can be taken to be an issue of control over information flows. If the privacy invasion case that of various applications collecting user data is considered then it can be said that users are made to be asked to accept the policies before the app starts functioning. Mostly, users do not take any heed to read through the messages or what they are agreeing to. Thus, they are the ones responsible for their privacy breach.
Deontology refers to the system of ethical analysis that suggests the correctness of an individual’s action is dependent on the way he or she fulfills his duties. Individuals do have to fulfill some moral obligations towards others and then they can be said to be acting in an ethical way (10). In this context of the invasion of privacy, the individuals who misuse user data are the ones to not abide by deontology. Here it can be said that they are not obliged to the duty of safeguarding user data. They have some responsibility towards their users when it comes to safeguarding data but misusing it or handling it in a casual manner shows their ignorance in this matter.
Cyberbullying is when an individual is bullied, humiliated, embarrassed, harassed or in general, targeted by another individual. It is a sort of traditional playground bullying where there are activities such as name-calling and other such things. The difference is that cyberbullying is done utilizing the internet. Cyberbullying causes emotional distress and adversely affects individuals to much extent (12). The growing use of the internet means all groups of ages have free access to the same. The concern is that adults have an idea as to how to handle issues or when to stop talking with the person but teens or children are immature and fall into the trap of these cybercriminals. Children and teens are the targets of these cybercriminals and thus this has turned out to be a serious concern.
The research question that will be taken up for discussion in this section is:
How can cyberbullying be stopped?
Ethical egoism suggests that if an individual does what he wants, then that is correct or appropriate for him. As per this, individuals or both parties involved in an ethical situation actively pursue what they want (5). This is commonly associated with selfishness and no consideration of the interests of others. In the context of cyberbullying, ethical egoism can be explained in this way that the ones bullying others feel get entertained by doing so and feel that it is ethical. But the ones who are the victims have to bear the wrath of the same and it is highly unethical on their part. This can be stopped if people be made aware of the consequences of cyberbullying.
As per this theory, if an individual’s action yields the best possible results, then that can be taken as ethically appropriate (7). But here in this context of cyberbullying, it can be said that the actions of the cybercriminal do not yield any such good result and is highly unethical. This cannot be justified using act utilitarianism. Cyberbullying does no good to anyone and affects the mental peace of young minds. The consequences of cyberbullying are far from being positive and thus this should be stopped by taking relevant measures.
The rule of utilitarianism lays stress on the fact that any activity generating happened is to be taken as an effective one (9). In this context of cyberbullying, rule utilitarianism as well does not apply. The act of cyberbullying results in negative impacts on the lives of individuals and in no way is in support of society. Thus, strict decisions are needed to be taken in this context and it is ensured that more and more be aware of the consequences of these. Parents should be more careful and watchful of how the internet is being used by their children.
Deontology suggests that one needs to be able to figure out the positive and negative consequences of the activities they carry out and be able to justify the same (11). In this context of cyberbullying, the ones who draw entertainment by bullying others are least interested in the negative impact that their activities have on the lives of teenagers or children. Thus, as per this theory as well, cyberbullying is unethical.
From the discussion done above, it can be said that computing professionals should be ethically obliged to their employers, customers, the public, and other professionals to ensure that they fulfill all of their professional duties. The ethical theories have helped in discussing the ethical stance on cyberbullying and invasion of privacy. Cyberbullying in no way can be tagged as ethical as it adversely affects individuals and society as a whole. But the invasion of privacy in some situations has been found to be as ethical as when users are giving their control to the apps. This means they are giving their consent to data collection which thus cannot be tagged to be unethical. But certainly, misusing the data is highly unethical on the part of the companies or the app development firms.
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