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Ethics of computer use: A survey of student attitudes: Working paper series--06-02

Lorents, Alden C. and Maris, Jo Mae and Morgan, James N. and Neal, Gregory L. (2006) Ethics of computer use: A survey of student attitudes: Working paper series--06-02. Working Paper. NAU W.A. Franke College of Business.


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The potential for misuse of computer systems and resources has been an important issue for many years. The rapid growth in use of remote access systems, the use of the internet and distributed systems for financial and other sensitive transactions, and the expansion in the availability of products in digital form is causing ethical issues surrounding misuse of computer resources to become an increasingly serious problem. This paper surveys ethical attitudes of a set of undergraduate business majors. The survey presents sets of scenarios in which students are asked to indicate whether a particular action is ethical or unethical using a 7 level Likert scale. Alternative base scenarios have been designed to present ethical issues relating to various types of unauthorized access to computer resources. Other sets of base scenarios focus on the use of computers to illegally copy products (software and music recordings). In addition, for each base scenario, alternative sub-scenarios are presented in which the motives of the individual vary between intellectual curiosity, securing resources for personal use, profit, and malice toward the affected entity. The scenarios are designed to provide an evaluation of how the level of malicious intent in the action affects the students' perception of the degree to which the action represents a breach of ethics. Results of this survey suggest that the intent of the individual engaging in unauthorized access or illegal copying does substantially affect student perceptions of the degree to which the behavior is a violation of ethics. In general, actions undertaken for profit or malicious intent are judged to be less ethical than the same actions undertaken for intellectual curiosity or to secure resources for personal use. In addition, a very strong majority of the students surveyed believe that any active participation in downloading is unethical.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Publisher’s Statement: Copyright, where appropriate, is held by the author.
ID number or DOI: 06-02
Keywords: Working paper, ethics, illegal downloading, opinion surveys
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Faculty/Staff
Department/Unit: The W.A. Franke College of Business
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2015 02:36
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/1555

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