Information Ethics in Business Enterprises

The use of an information code of conduct in a company is becoming more and more necessary at present. Rapid technological advances in the area cause the increase in the importance of ethics in information technology. In response, many businesses are instituting policies to regulate employees’ use of company-owned technology and data. This essay aims to inspect several examples of such a system, describe their overarching themes, and provide suggestions on how information ethics can be further supported through both policy and personal behavior.

The primary reason why policies regulating technology use are necessary is misconduct, both existent and potential. Brooks (2010) describes a trend of IT employees performing actions they did not have authorization for, often knowingly, and outlines the possible hazards of the advances in information technology. The author uses that information as a foundation for her statement that all students should have ethics in the curriculum as a practical course, instead of a theoretical one or none at all.

Examples of IT Codes of Ethics

The first code of conduct reviewed in this essay belongs to the Kansas State University (“K-State”, n.d.). The specific rules outlined primarily concern the protection of data and reporting of unclear cases, as well as noncompliance, to one’s superior. The protection of data, in this case, means concealing all forms of data that may permit access to the system as well as limiting and protecting the information within that system. As the company in question is a university, there is also a rule preventing a user from accessing their academic data or the courses in which they are enrolled.

The second code of conduct (“Atlas World Group”, n.d.) belongs to the Atlas World Group, a moving and storage company. This code is stricter and more detailed, including restrictions on the manner of activity that may be performed on the system as well as the content which may be used in communications. However, the access policies are less strict than Kansas State University’s, with the employee not being expected to concern themselves with others’ account security. Another notable inclusion is the statement of the company’s right to access any data on the system, which declares the employee does not and cannot have any expectation of privacy in their use of the system.

After reading the two codes above, it becomes apparent that the only thing they have in common is the policy of access restriction and protection. Kansas State University employees are not explicitly forbidden from using the system to ends other than accessing the relevant data, but cannot copy, share, or alter it out of their duties. On the other hand, Atlas World Group employees are required to use the system for authorized business activities but do not have restrictions on what they can do with data that belongs to them.

As a manager, I would find it critical to implement a code of conduct for information systems used in a company. It would be necessary to restrict permitted actions explicitly and implement a monitoring system for activity. Every employee should be a subject to such surveillance, including management staff and company directors, and so I would act as a role model, perhaps making my activity logs semi-public. The company’s computer system should be used for the company’s purposes only, and, at present, most personal needs that require access to an information system can be satisfied with a portable personal device.

Conclusion

Advances in information technology make understanding of what can and should be down with it a critical issue. While many companies are implementing information technology policies, they are primarily concerned with access to login information and do not have a strong base, which results in significant omissions. Further research into the ethics of computer usage is necessary in order to form a set of rules and determine the tools which may be used to carry out and enforce those rules.

References

Atlas World Group, Inc. information systems code of conduct. (n.d.). Web.

Brooks, R. (2010). The development of a code of ethics: An online classroom approach to making connections between ethical foundation and the challenges presented by information technology. American Journal of Business Education, 3(10), 1–13.

K-State information technology employee code of ethics. (n.d.). Web.

Kansas, Technology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, Information system, Ethical codem, Information technology, Policy

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