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Legal Factors

Discuss about the Professional Issues for Human Ethical Decisions.

To assign a specific set of moral codes is difficult in the area of computer technology as it is of constantly changing nature, but it is a necessity too. The ethical problems related to computing create a whole new set of it and are unique unto it. Such as, ‘phenomenon of data theft and hacking, using computer to commit fraud, disputed rights to products, theft of software, unauthorized use of hardware, degradation of work, making false claims for computers and sabotage in the form of viruses and many more’ which gives rise to ethical questions as “Is it really a stealing crime to copy one’s software’ or ‘Does the data is really an intolerable invasion of privacy stored on an individual’s computer system’ (Aaronson & Reeves 2012).

These types of questions demands that there should be a proper organized set of principles related to ethics in computing especially in professional organizations, otherwise these grey areas may turn completely black. As future information security personnel one must know his ethical and legal responsibilities because breaching it could lead the one into serious troubles. Ethics are fixed moral attitudes or customs of a particular organization except some which are universal such as theft, murder, assault etc.

This assignment is going to analyse three case studies which are ‘Diane the consultant’, ‘Max in the state government department’ and ‘The HCI consultant’ to interpret what factors have been breached and what is the legal and respective action could be taken against someone in that case. It will determine this on the basis of these factors- Legal factors, professional factors, Employment and Social factors, Personal Factors and Intrinsic factors (Fukukawa & Moon 2014).

Facts and Events

Category

Breach of Agreement

Legal Factor

Threat to Computers

Legal Factor

Fraud with Access Devices

Legal Factor

Intellectual Property Theft

Legal Factor

Piracy Theft

Legal Factor

Copyright Theft

Legal Factor

Weak Security

Professional Factor

Confidentiality

Professional Factor

Contract Obligation

Professional Factor

patent infringement

Professional Factor

Business owner

Employment and Social factor

Designing DBMS

Employment and Social factor

Risks and Justification

Employment and Social factor

Access Provided

Employment and Social factor

Remedial Programs

Employment and Social factor

Evaluation Contract

Employment and Social factor

Successful

Personal Factor

Own Set Up

Personal Factor

Pressure

Personal Factor and Employment and Social Factor

Strength

Personal Factor

Obligation

Personal Factor

Feeling Towards Insecurity

Intrinsic Factor

Work Completion

Intrinsic Factor

Business Owner

Intrinsic Factor

Awareness

Intrinsic Factor

Website Evaluator

Intrinsic Factor

Breach of the Contract-

I have taken this factor into account because of two reasons first in the case study ‘Diane the consultant’ Diane is confused that she should continue with the project by manufacturing weak secured system or not. Is she decides not to continue with it then there will be a breach in the contract though her desires are genuine for both company with which the project has been signed and for her company as it may affect her reputation.

The other reason to take this factor is because as in case study ‘The HCI consultant’ has already in an evaluation contract with Company A but because of patent infringement she do not want to continue with the evaluation which leads to breach of the contract.

Professional Factors

Threat to Computers:

This is a legal factor under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 1986, also known as Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers (18 USC 1030). If Diane continues with the project and develop less secured system as desired by higher members of her client company, she is aware of the fact that it imposes threat to computers as hackers could anytime steal the information.

Fraud with Accessed Device:

This formularizes and defines law to counter threats from counterfeit access devices like electronic or mobile serial numbers, telecom equipment, credit cards, ID cards and equipment that creates them. In the case study ‘Max in the State Government Department’, Max has been given rights to access all the files in agency’s mainframe computers which includes clients identity and Max could misuse it for his own good.

Intellectual Property Theft:

In case study ‘Max in the State Government Department’ when max downloaded the client’s information file to his personal computer in office and then transferred it to the USB stick, he committed an intellectual property theft, although his intention was just to complete the assigned work but theft was committed under law as intellectual property theft amends criminal and copyright statues to deliver better copyright protection and penalties for electronic copyright infringement.

Also, HCI consultant found out that the software she has been asked to evaluate contains a GUI already patented by Company B, which clearly shows that Intellectual Property Theft has been committed.

Piracy Theft:

If HCI consultant continues with the evaluation process for company A then she commits piracy theft for the GUI already patented by Company B.

Copyright Theft:

Copyright Act of 1976—Update to Australian Copyright Law (17 USC). Max was working with original identities of clients and he copied down the data onto his computer for further transfers without any permission from state government or his superiors. This was a breach of copyright law.

Weak Security issue has been selected as a professional factor as the CEO and other top management of the client company is adamant to keep the cost low while they are ready for weak secured system. While Diane is confused as she don’t want to create it as it could impact her repute, so may be Diane provides full secured system at the same cost. Could this be a reason CEO didn’t agree to extend costs as he knew that Diane will not manufacture less secures system for her own good.

Employment and Social Factors

The other professional factor is confidentiality; Max was assigned the work which was very confidential as he has access to everything on agency’s mainframe computer, if max decides to exchange the information rival’s party who can use it against state government, the confidentiality is lost.

Professional Contract Obligation: The HCI Consultant is in an evaluation contract with the company A and if she decides to not to work with the project and inform company B about the same she will breach the contract with Company A.

Professional Patent Infringement: Company B has a patent over the GUI which was originally developed by them. Now Company A wants to copy the same GUI even without the knowledge of Company B, Hence this is proper objection to the law of Patent Infringement.

Diane, using her experience and knowledge started a business which offered employment to many of the citizens. Being a faithful citizen to her country, Diane made her business successful in just three years and contributed to the society.

Although CEO are forcing Diane to construct DBMS design less secured but Diane feels that this is not at all ethical and may harm her society in any way, Being refused many times she is still thinking about how to convince CEO or should cancel contract but she is not ready to make weak secures DBMS design as it will contain all the confidential information.

Diane has made several attempts to make CEO of the client company understand the risks of the less secured Database, which could be hacked anytime by the rivals or whosoever is against them and also presented many other justifications, but CEO is not getting convinced. Diane is confused whether she should continue with the project or not as it could harm the society and company as well.

Max was pressurised by the higher management to complete the project given to him in the given deadline which became impossible for him as the time was less and this led to the unprofessional and unethical act of disobliging copyright act of Australian law.

As the company in which Max works administers remedial programs for alcoholism and drug abuse, he has been given a high responsible task to work upon, because in case he didn’t clearly research then an important program could be cancelled and unimportant may survive which could be a threat to the organization.

The HCI consultant will be cheating Company B if does not cancels his contract with company A to work upon the same GUI as patented by company B, the former employer of the HCI consultant. And if she informs company B about it than it is a breach of contract with company A.

Analysis

Diane is successfully running her consulting business, which she started just three years back. This is a personal factor as Diane became successful in very less time and she is very careful towards her business and reputation as we have seen that she is very confused and not willing to take projects with weak security.

Instead of getting employed by some other company Diane chose to be self-employed and provide employment to others so she created her own set-up of consulting business.

Company A’s pressure on the HCI consultant to evaluate contract which was resulting in patent infringement was disturbing her. She was discerning to inform Company B about the patent infringement thinking it is as her obligation for company B but was not sure.

The HCI consultant was hired for the evaluation task based on her strengths of her prior experience with e-commerce websites evaluation. The work involved assessing training requirements which needed lots of knowledge about the same. Hence, the strength because of which HCI consultant was hired is a personal factor.

The consultant was feeling obligatory towards company B to inform about the patent infringement although she was not the part of company B anymore. Even if she has evaluated company A’s project there was nothing legal which could have bothered her, but company A, still she was feeling responsibility is a personal factor here.

As discussed above also Diane was not sure and confused about she should start the project or not for that client company. Diane was insecure that it could be harmful for the client and his organization. This depicts an intrinsic behaviour of Diane as she could have started to produce less secured system not worrying about the client and thinking about her profit from the project.

Max was given a tight deadline to submit the project, though he committed a theft by copying the data into his personal USB and took home but he did this to complete work on time and worked over weekend despite a holiday which shows the dedication of work inside him and hence an intrinsic factor.

Diane was the owner of consulting business and started this company on her own which makes her an entrepreneur in her field of work.

The HCI consultant became aware of the fact that the software she has been asked to evaluate is patented which shows her awareness that she was able to depict the plagiarism company A has committed in her first attempt.

Being a website evaluator needs extensive experience in evaluating GUI’s and websites, The HCI consultant was hired for this work because of her intrinsic factor.

Factor

Related Issue

Intellectual Property Theft

Downloading personal information of company’s clients without informing them. Using other company’s patent work without confirmation

Breach of Agreement

Due to patent rights of software with company B, HCI consultant wants to breach the contract with company A. If Diane decides not to start client’s project she will breach the agreement.

Copyright Theft

Max transferred client’s confidential data to his personal USB and forget it at home which could be copied by anyone if found.

Piracy Theft

Company A committed piracy by using GUI of company B illegally

Threat to Computers

If Diane agrees to build system with weak security it is vulnerable to threats.

Fraud with Access Devices

Max was rights to access all the files in agency’s mainframe computers and he copied it which he may use in future to commit frauds.

Patent Infringement

Company A copied the same GUI even without the knowledge of Company B who had a patent over it.

Confidentiality

Max copied confidential data to his personal USB which is objection of confidentiality rules.

Contract Obligation

HCI consultant is in a contract with company A for which she has a responsibility but do not wish to complete it because of loyalty towards previous employer

Weak Security

CEO and other management leaders are adamant to weak secured system while they knew this is not safe and good. Is there any professional reason behind it?

Risks and Justification

Diane made several attempts to inform the client about the risks associated with the project and provides many justifications.

Evaluation Contract

HCI consultant is in a contract with company A which if does not completes will result in a breach

Remedial Programs

Effective remedial programs for drugs and alcohol abuse will be a great help for the society and Max has been asked to select appropriate.

Access Provided

Max was provided access to all the confidential data about clients and all the programs company works upon which was highly valuable.

Business Owner

Diane, using her experience and knowledge started a business which offered employment to many of the citizens.

Designing DBMS

DBMS design will contain all the confidential information and need to be kept secure.

Obligation

The consultant was feeling obligatory towards company B to inform about the patent infringement although she was not the part of company B anymore.

Strength

The HCI consultant was hired for the evaluation task based on her strengths of her prior experience with e-commerce websites evaluation.

Pressure

Company A’s pressure on the HCI consultant to evaluate contract which was resulting in patent infringement was disturbing her.

Own Set up

Diane chose to be self-employed and provide employment to others.

Successful

Diane is successfully running her consulting business, which she started just three years back.

Awareness

HCI consultant was able to depict the plagiarism company A has committed in her first attempt.

Feeling towards Insecurity

Diane was insecure that weak secured system could be harmful for the client and his organization.

Work Completion

Max shown a dedication towards work completion.

Website Evaluator

Website evaluator needs extensive experience.

The all three case studies has been thoroughly analysed and different important moral, social, ethical factor have been drawn from them.  As the infringement of patent rights have more weightage over contract breach, HCI consultant should think over it and must acknowledge the company A about patented GUI present in their software. If the company agrees to cancel contract themselves it is good for her otherwise she could simply inform company B about the same.

Diane should refuse to build the system as requested because it will affect many important things such as repute of her company, threat to the society and also, if CEO is under false impression that Diane would build the strong secured system in the less cost, they will understood the norms of the company and might agree to pay extra as they need the work to be done. If one of the project is lost from Diane’s hands she could get many more but if reputation and goodwill lost it will take years to build it up again.

Max must inform his superiors about downloading the data to USB device and taking home, as in case someone has copied the data from USB when he forget it at home and might use it for some frauds or spoiling the name of the state government, Max could be in a big danger.

Principles of being politically right, morally right, professionally right and so on are very much necessity in organizations as they help an employee and employer to make ethical decisions for the company. We have analysed three case studies in this paper and each one of it has one or more important factors, such as, for Diane her first priority was reputation of her company and not money. She was even worried for Client Company which could be harmed if weak secured system was manufactured which shows the honesty for ethics in her and this could be the factor she was successful in very less time.

Awareness seen in the HCI consultant regarding piracy has been very efficient and if an employee wants to be successful in career than he/she must be aware of every situation facing at workplace and should follow ethics.

I have prioritised intellectual property theft as number one because breaching the contract for good reasons will only harm the employee but ethics will be saved and may be the company agrees to what is advised by the employee but in case this has been second priority than Diane must have agreed for less secured system which would in turn may harm countless individuals.

Also, patent infringement has been given priority over contract breach as if HCI consultant agrees to carry on with the project with company A and afterwards company B finds about it, in that case company B can launch an FIR against company A which would impact the whole organization and its employees. Hence, it is better to breach the contract at this point instead of its harmful consequences later.

In Intrinsic factors Obligation has been kept on the highest priority because every other factor is helping the individual itself while this factor if harming the individual but benefiting many others as when consultant will breach the contract she might lose her job, or in any case she will lose the contract which will harm her financially but this is for the good of others, hence at top priority.

Conclusion

The obligation of organization management to make decisions and take actions that will enhance the welfare and interests of society as well as the organization can only be fulfilled if ethics are followed. It is clear from the approaches that individual moral development is necessary at some times to make the ethical decisions while generally most of the times it will be beneficial to use cultural values of the organization (Aaronson, S., & Reeves, J. 2012).

Heroes give good examples that can either help or disprove moral choice making. Society is by all account not the only part of an association that impacts morals; however it is a real drive on the grounds that it characterizes organization values. Different parts of the association, for example, unequivocal guidelines and arrangements, the prize framework, the degree to which the organization nurtures its kin, the choice framework, attention on lawful and expert benchmarks, and initiative and choice courses of action, can have an effect on moral qualities and director choice making. 

References

Aaronson, S., & Reeves, J. (2012). Corporate responsibility in the global village: The role of public policy. Washington, D.C.: National Policy Association.

Aguilera, R.V., C. Williams, Conley, J., & D. Rupp. (2016). Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility, A Comparative Analysis of the U.K. and the U.S. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 14(3): 147-157.

Fukukawa, K & Moon, J. (2014). A Japanese model of corporate social responsibility? A study of  website reporting, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 16:45-60.

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[Accessed 29 May 2024].

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