Ethical Issues Related to Information Technology
In the recent past, millions of people across the world have been using the internet for various purposes, such as socialization and performance of official duties. Some of the ethical issues in the field of IT include piracy, plagiarism, hacking, and computer crime, among others (Beskeen, 2008). WikiLeaks is one of the multinational organizations that have been exposing various forms of secret information to the public.
The firm has been at the forefront with respect to revealing confidential information that could be used to harm people and organizations. This paper summarizes an article that was published by WikiLeaks in 2009 in the context of an ethical issue in information technology.
The report asserts that former Senator Norm Coleman established an online database that was not secure (Schmelzer, 2009). It is alleged that it crashed as a result of the actions of disenfranchised voters who were keen on confirming whether their votes were counted. The online platform did not have security features that could deter people from using it for criminal and personal reasons. It is unethical for individuals and/or organizations to create databases that contain information of persons that are not secure.
The former senator was informed about the crash of the online platform, but he did not give a response. Thus, it appeared that he was not concerned about the security of the persons from whom he was seeking votes. Rules with regard to leakage of data are very clear. In fact, the law “requires entities using data that include any breach of the security of the system following discovery or notification of the breach to report to the authorities” (Schmelzer, 2009, para. 4). In addition, “the disclosure must be made in the most expedient time possible and without possible delay” (Schmelzer, 2009, para. 5).
It seems that the head of the IT campaign for the former senator did not understand the law governing the security of databases. For example, he told supporters that there was no credible information that the database was accessed by unauthorized persons, but he did not disagree with the fact that there could be a breach of security. On the contrary, many IT experts confirmed that they accessed the information. To make matters worse, they stated that it was not protected by a password. The manner in which the campaign team of the former senator handled the IT ethical issue could be analyzed in the context of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is for the reason that the “list of supporters’ credit card numbers” could be used by criminals to obtain money from voters illegally (Schmelzer, 2009, para. 8). It can be argued that the crash of the database was essential in preventing crimes that could be related to the use of credit numbers in the future.
The unprotected database was a serious privacy issue due to the fact that “many persons did not want to be known by the public” that they donated funds to the campaign team of the former senator (Schmelzer, 2009, para. 13).
The article holds that WikiLeaks was not wrong to publish the details on the database so that millions of people could desist from giving their credit card numbers to persons and organizations that could not protect them.
Thus, it is evident that individuals need to be more careful in the future with respect to some databases that would expose their personal information to the public.
Beskeen, D. (2008). Introduction to Computer Applications and Concepts ITE 115. Hoboken, NJ: Cengage learning.
Schmelzer, P. (2009). Wikileaks, IT pro not ‘in any danger’ in Coleman leak, lawyer says. Web.