Ethics in Computing
The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics
In my opinion, ethics are rules outlining things that people should already know; what is right and what is wrong, rules that should not have to be recorded.
Perhaps the oldest recorded ethics are in the form of biblical principles, known as the Ten Commandments, but they only go so far with various rules applying only to the religious among us. However, the general ethics, such as “thou shalt not kill” should be common knowledge, and should not need to be taught.
However, it would be dangerous to assume that everybody understands right from wrong, and the same goes for actions in computing. Available on the internet are principles, basic principles in the form of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics. 
The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics were draw up by the Computer Ethics Institute.
You can imagine by the title of the principles that they are not too dissimilar from the way the biblical principles are presented.
- Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Harm Other People
- Thou Shalt Not Interfere With Other People’s Computer Work
- Thou Shalt Not Snoop Around In Other People’s Computer Files
- Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Steal
- Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Bear False Witness
- Thou Shalt Not Copy Or Use Proprietary Software For Which You Have Not Paid
- Thou Shalt Not Use Other People’s Computer Resources Without Authorisation Or Proper Compensation
- Thou Shalt Not Appropriate Other People’s Intellectual Output
- Thou Shalt Think About The Social Consequences Of The Program You Are Writing Or The System You Are Designing
- Thou Shalt Always Use A Computer In Ways That Insure Consideration And Respect For Your Fellow Humans
You read through these rules, and instantly you may think that they are all a given, and you would not have had to have read through them to learn anything new. However, whether or not a person knows from right and wrong, there are still many counts of wrong-doings ranging from bullying on social networks to plagiarism.
The 3 most prominent examples of unethical use of computers are, in my opinion, intrusion, piracy and bullying.
Hacking another person or business’ personal computers, servers or networks is the computing equivalent of breaking into a place of residence or the building that belongs to the business being hacked. The average person would not do the latter, so why do it on a computer?
For more than enough people, the internet has different rules from the real world, and perhaps people feel that they can get away with more illegal activities than in the outside world. As aforementioned, a person may not actively invade people’s homes, but they would have no problem invading a personal computer on a regular basis for their own personal gain.
Hacking appears to have become a hobby for many, with a study showing that a third of all world-wide malicious attacks originated in America alone, according to Symantec.
Beyond general intrusion is the DDoS attack. DDoS is short for Distributed Denial of Service, and these attacks are designed to compromise systems with infected files which enable the hacker to maliciously control as many sources as they want to flood the target with an unmanageable amount of incoming traffic to overwhelm their system(s).
Recent examples of DDoS attacks on major companies were the attacks on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. The hackers targeted these giants to disrupt their service during arguably the most busy time of the year as far as gaming goes; Christmas. In reply to the attacks, Xbox boss Phil Spencer spoke to his rivals at Playstation and Nintendo in an effort to counter any future attacks made on their systems.
Hacking can however be used for a good cause; whether or not it’s ethical is up for debate. In recent news, Anonymous, a group of ‘hacktivists’, have taken to the internet to expose more than 1,500 ISIS supporters via social media.
“We will hunt you down and expose you”, read a statement from Anonymous.
They make it clear that they are “Muslims, Christians, Jews. We are hackers, crackers, hacktivists, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy from next door”.
Generally speaking, they could be anybody. Reflecting on the number of hackers based in America, it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that the majority of Anonymous members are American nationals, but undoubtedly there will be a great number based across Britain, Europe and the rest of the world. Their statement indirectly suggests that there is nowhere to hide for ISIS, or for anybody willing to commit crimes against humanity.
Groups like Anonymous are commonly known as vigilantes, but taking their recent actions into account, you can’t help but argue that they are ultimately undertaking ethical tasks by way of unethical actions. The right outweighs the wrong.
“You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure.”
To be in the industries of music, videogames, film and general media brings with it the war on piracy. One of the biggest areas to be hit since the introduction of digital piracy is the music industry.
Lars Ulrich, drummer of Metallica, is not only famous for his role in the colossal metal band, but also for taking a stand against piracy when it first became a notable issue.
Napster was the flagship service for peer-to-peer file sharing, and was mainly founded on the sharing of MP3 audio files, which eventually got them into many legal disputes over copyright infringement, one of which was fronted by Lars Ulrich.
The general public did not agree with Lars Ulrich when he spoke out against Napster when he disagreed that P2P would have a role in evolving the music industry for the greater good. Sure, unknown artists can be found a lot easier thanks to video and music file shares on the internet, however, piracy in the music industry has no doubt caused revenue to plummet, thus causing more damage than effective evolution.
The above chart shows how revenue from music sales has taken a significant hit since the birth of Napster back in 1999, which had a knock-on effect when various other file sharing services came to be, such as Limewire.
Aside from filing law suits against whoever can be caught, little can be done against digital piracy. The internet cannot be tamed. If a website or service is blocked, there will be a guaranteed proxy which people can use as a gateway to get back onto those sites or services.
However, the war on piracy is a little different for videogames developers. If they choose to make the effort, there are techniques that the developers can use to punish pirates for illegally obtaining their game. One of the more prominent examples being the censor method used by Electronic Arts on The Sims 4.
EA took their pixilation technology to the next level, and instead of pixilating things like the characters’ use of the bathroom, they stepped it up by progressively pixelating everything but the user interface if a bootleg copy of the game was detected.
In regards to software such as Windows applications, or even the operating system itself, such as Windows 8, they have registration protection for most products. If a user hasn't registered a product key before the end of a set period of time, then the application will lock the user out, and they will not be able to use that program again until a product key has been entered.
However, prevention methods such as those only separate the casuals from the hard-core pirates. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and simple methods such as amending the system clock can stop a program from ever reaching the registration deadlines. It just depends on how much a user wants that program without having to pay for it, because some workarounds require effort.
Online social networks have been one of the most ground-breaking creations in the history of computing, and though they are not the oldest social network, Facebook are the most notable pioneers.
Twitter is another social network that has risen above many others. It brings with it a lot of positives, which arguably makes it better than Facebook for people who want to keep in touch with the news from around the world, or news from their favourite celebrities.
However, with the positives come the negatives, and one of the biggest negatives of social networking as direct as Twitter is the bullying and general abuse. One of the more prominent examples of this is the attacks on celebrities or sports personalities after certain events have taken place.
If a music artist gives a bad performance, then people will feel the need to directly message their Twitter account to berate them, and take criticism to a personal level. It’s the same with sports personalities. If a football player has a bad game, or says something in a post-match interview that isn't to the fans’ liking, then certain fans will send abusive messages to that player, which can sometimes devolve even further into racism.
With so many areas in computing, and a plethora of users being involved in these areas, there are bound to be millions of people wanting to exploit something for their own good. It’s impossible to enforce ethics in computing, because as we have seen of late from Internet Service Providers in the UK, such as Virgin Media and Sky, blocks on certain websites such as the aforementioned Pirate Bay can be made redundant by proxy websites.
The internet is the wild west of the world. You can carry on with illegal activities and not necessarily get caught. However there are some who will be caught and made examples of for software piracy, hacking or bullying, but that still doesn't seem to stop unethical behavior in computing.
 Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics - http://computerethicsinstitute.org/publications/tencommandments.html
 Computer Ethics Institute - http://computerethicsinstitute.org/aboutcei/whatiscei.html
 Hacking Reports - http://www.neoseeker.com/news/6608-hacking-the-new-american-hobby/
 Anti-piracy techniques - http://www.dorkly.com/post/70736/8-surprising-ways-video-games-are-fighting-piracy