This paper discusses issues with ethics that have derived in the workplace as a result of the use of business computers. The definition of computer ethics is simple; they are a set of moral principles that intend to help with the regulation of the use of computers. Some common problems with computer ethics consist of privacy concerns, intellectual property rights, and the way computers have an effect on people. In other words, computer ethics refers to the ways people take ethical traditions and test, stretch, apply, negotiate and break in the realm of computer technology.
As technology continues to evolve, there are a great deal of ethical issues and principles of behavior concerning privacy and accurateness for managerial leaders to deal with. In finding the issues of ethics that the Technology Age has brought to the workplace, organizations must be hands-on when it is time to highlight ethical use of technology by employees. Making sure that employees are knowledgeable on the proper policies the organization has on computer ethics.
Promoting good computer ethics is a great way for companies to keep morale high and unnecessary issues from arising in the workplace.
As technology like computers progresses, they will continue to contain a larger impact on people in today’s society. For that reason, computer ethics supports the how some debate on just how much influence computers need to have in human communication. With computers evolving constantly, ethical standards will continue to be constructed by computer ethics and will always have newer concerns that come from recent technology.
With the new changes in technology like computers, more supervisors are coping with having to manager employees for proper use of company computers; they have to stay informed of all new ethical problems and the laws that were created to enforce ethics with workers. These are problematic areas, particularly with the arrival of the World Wide Web.
To date, there have been problems with employees using company computers for purposes other than work. This subject has become more of a problem in today’s society and has been addressed by employers through monitoring computer usage, creating written policies, and enforcing other tactics to teach and inflict the ethics of computer use to employees at all levels.
This paper topic was inspired through my own experience of an employer who felt that productivity was lower than past years, due to employees who utilized the Internet for reasons other than work. Today, we have monitored email and they are able to tell what Internet sites we visit daily and the duration of the time we are on that site. I must say as an employee, I felt violated for not being able to utilize the Internet throughout the day, as I am someone who still gets my work done each day no matter what. But I can see their reasoning behind and cannot blame them for keeping an eye out.
Ethics is a set of truthful principles that oversee the actions of people. As a result, computer ethics goes hand in hand with ethics with the intention to control how employees use computers. Often times, frequent issues with computer ethics consist of privacy concerns, intellectual property rights, and the way computers have an effect on people. In other words, computer ethics refers to the ways people take ethical traditions and test, stretch, apply, negotiate and break in the realm of computer technology.
A current study shows how computers are making a heavy affect on ethics at work. One study said that almost half of the people they polled said they have participated in some kind of unethical act that relates to computers at work in the last 12 months. Another study found that one out of six working people believes conventional thoughts of moral and immoral have been superseded by new technologies (Websense and Saratoga Institute).
These days, its almost impossible for one to keep up with how fast technology advances and has a significant influence on how we do business these days. Corporations, management and employees have to be able to keep up with the changing times in order to be competitive in their profession.
The Internet creates an interesting predicament, with many employees utilizing it at work on a daily. The main concern is whether communication and information by way of the Internet should be monitored; this concerns both business and personal communications at work. This issue of employees and the Internet at work is a concern of many employers and managers, because in most cases it affects productivity. These days some employees have taken the use of Internet at work to an even more unethical level of viewing explicit content on work computers and this raises even more red flags for work computers to be monitored and have restrictions.
The United States Congress created the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to help with regulating pornographic things on the Internet. In 1997, changes were made to the Act and Title V of the Communications Decency Act affected the Internet and online communications. The most notorious portions of this Act were the ones that related to unsuitable content online. The significant part of the Act was initiated in reply to worries that Internet pornography was becoming an issue to society. If the government could find a way to really enforce inappropriate material on the Internet like pornography, would definitely help to decrease the amount of staff who find it ok to do such an outlandish thing with work property (Myers 2006).
The impact of employees using work computers and the Internet for reasons other than work related tasks could affect a company tremendously. Some disadvantages to the company would face, includes:
o The level of productivity to decrease
o Risking protection of classified company information
o Losing assets like computers and other company equipment
o Risking the protection of the entity and company status
When it comes to employee privacy, many argue that it’s a violation for them to be monitored at work, but below are three examples of companies taking action from monitoring employees:
• Dow Chemical fired about a great deal of employees and regimented 200 employees for an investigation that discovered employees emailed inappropriate images from company technology. (“Dow Chemical Fires 50 Over Offensive Email“, 2000)
• Xerox also let go of 40 employees for taking up too much of work time to look at pornographic websites and partake in online shopping on the Web.
(“Dow Chemical Fires 50 Over Offensive Email“, 2000)
• The New York Times terminated 22 staff members last year for allegedly distributing offensive emails.
(‘Dow Chemical Fires 50 Over Offensive Email“, 2000)
In reply to company worries, H.R. 4908 Notice of Electronic Monitoring Act was introduced to Congress on July 20, 2000 to deal with employees and their privacy.
A projected law states:
“Any employee who intentionally, by any electronic means, reads, listens to, or otherwise monitors any wire communication, oral communication, or electronic communication of an employee of the employer, or otherwise monitors the computer usage of an employee of the employer, without having provided the employee notice… shall be liable to the employee for relief…” (“Notice of Electronic Monitoring Act”, 2000)
An employer has the right to view company property like computers, to check computer usage, e-mails, etc. Some options for employers could be to include guidelines in an employment handbook or contract. Even though there is nothing set in stone, but in most cases an employer can screen how company workers use computers, unless prohibited or restricted by law. Some options may include dividing office desk in sections of cubicles so that no employee feels private enough to want to utilize the wrong content on a work computer. In an office an employee is able to close a door and blinds to do who knows what on their work computer. Another option may be to scan emails randomly, or limit that amount of places on the Internet that can be accessed from a work computer. Another option may be to make all employees sign a pledge that they agree to not abuse work computers for personal reasons.
Monitoring staff at work seems to be more effective with the amplified accessibility of low-cost monitoring technology. Some recommendations that may be used in an employee surveillance system are below:
Workplace searches-Companies have the right to search property of the business that includes: filing cabinets, lockers, desks and office documents, without permission from their employees. However, it is best for the employer not seem threatening or unlawful.
Camera Monitoring-Employers can install surveillance systems in and throughout the company buildings unless prohibited by State law.
Polygraph Testing-May not be the best option because this is prohibited in certain states. However, if it is acceptable, the staff member may have a right to decline without receiving discrimination or reprisal by the employer.
For employees, I would recommend:
o Keep online activity at work to a minimum
o Keep away from websites that you know are not appropriate from work
o Never send an email that you wouldn’t mind your boss reading one day
o Always be professional and remember your main reason for your position at your place of employment
o Please be mindful that many employers may not even mention that they monitor their employee’s activities and just because you don’t know, don’t assume it doesn’t happen.
In today’s society, technology plays in big role in the day-to-day operation of a company. Employees utilize computers for e-mail communication, research, document editing, file storage and so much more. One thing that is becoming more of an issue within companies is the unethical acts that employees do on their computers at work. It is essential that an employer stresses to their employees that making the decision to misuse n a work computer or network is wrong and in some cases, employees will be punished for their actions. A good way for employers to boost office morale and keep employees from not doing their job to their fullest potential is to live by a code of ethics that stresses creating value and everything a company stands for This is what employees can reference when making good decisions at work when it comes to utilizing computers properly for their job.
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