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Computer Ethics



Computer Ethics
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.19

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    authorization, risk-free, understanding, plagiarism, front-page, scams, intellectual, violation, questionable, thou, abusive, nonprofit, output, hacking, embrace, well-being
     content words:    Computer Ethics Institute, Nancy Willard, Responsible Netizen Institute, Advanced Technology


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Computer Ethics
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     Ethics is a short, two-syllable word of six letters that affects every segment of our lives. Ethics is a moral code involving a clear understanding of right and wrong. Another word for ethics is values. When people talk about ethics, they may be focused on one specific area, such as business, medical, political, environmental, religious, or personal ethics. Today we are going to focus on another important area of ethics: computer ethics.
 
2     If you have good computer ethics, you won't try to harass or hurt people with your computer, and you won't commit crimes such as information theft or virus creation. The problem that often arises when some of us are on a computer is that we don't see the harm in snooping in another person's private information or trying to figure out their passwords. It seems smart to copy and paste information into a school report and pretend that we wrote it. (Even if the information were public property --which most of it isn't-- that would be dishonest.) The crimes committed with hacking or gaming scams may not seem harmful because the victims lack faces. Flaming (aiming abusive, insulting messages at another person online) seems risk-free since we are anonymous. Indulging in obscenities and other offensive behavior online might feel empowering simply because no one knows who we really are. No one is going to come knocking on the door and demand a physical confrontation. However, every one of those activities is a violation of computer ethics.
 
3     The Computer Ethics Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization in Washington, published a code of ethics in 1998 for computer users. They have given the public permission to duplicate and distribute this list as long as it remains intact. (Including the list without a mention of the source would be a violation of ethics - that would be plagiarism!)
 
4     
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR COMPUTER ETHICS

 
5     1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
 
6     2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
 
7     3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's files.
 
8     4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
 
9     5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness. (To tell lies about other people)

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