Ethical Impact of IT on IT Professionals

Views > Ethics and Responsibility > Thesis > Ethical Impact of IT on IT Professionals

Ethical Impact of IT on IT Professionals
Wan HJ IBRAHIM, Student (MBA), Australia

Ethical issues such as privacy, intellectual rights and social responsibility need to be debated until there is widespread agreement about ethical standards for IT professions.

For IT professionals to be enabled to become more ethical in their practice:
  • the purpose of IT must be primarily understood to be user-oriented;
  • the nature of professionals ethics must be primarily understood to be other-centred;
  • the goal of ethics education must be understood as primarily promoting a change in awareness.

Thus, this emphasise the importance of influencing professionals’ ways of experiencing their discipline and practice. It is suggested that such a change of approach to ethical professional formation impacts three aspects of professional life:
  1. It promotes thinking about the IT discipline in terms of the end-user.
  2. It argures for an understanding of professional ethics in therms of other people.
  3. It identifies the goal of ethics education as a change in awareness.

The information technology (IT) discipline to date has been principally technology-centred. This influences how IT is understood and frames professionals’ expectations of how IT is to be used and developed. Most IT professionals suggest that turning professionals’ vision outwards towards the people that technology impacts includes re-orienting IT professionals towards a people-centred rather than an artefact-centred experience of their field. In order to be able to practice in an ethical manner, IT professionals must see vistas beyond technology. Preston (2001, 6) considers that the expansion of technology has taken us to a point where “the human capacity to determine what we can do, has outstripped our ability to decide what we ought to do”.

There are many ethical challenges being faced by IT professions. For instant, could employees use
computers and printers for personal task? Some ethical questions are answered by laws, rules of conduct that describe the consequences for those who do not comply. Other ethical questions are answered purely from a moral perspective; some behavior is legal but not ethical. Ethics have become increasingly vital in IT professional environments. According to Mark Ciampa in Ethics Awareness, “ethics involves a mixture of private and public issues with individual and community implications. While values and morals are personal, ethics reflect a collective agreement on what is good right behavior in various situations”. (Ciampa, 228-230). To assist IT professionals maintain ethical standards, some professional organizations such as Australian Computer Society (ACS), publish ethical guidelines or codes of ethics. These disciplinary codes are a set of values and ideals which uphold and advance the honour, dignity and effectiveness of the IT professions. It also identifies major standards governing ethical behavior among IT professionals. Most IT professions have internally enforced codes of practice that must be followed, to prevent exploitation of the client and preserve the integrity of the IT profession. This is for the benefit of IT professions as well as their clients.

Sustainability is one of the business services criteria implemented by organisation. In order to achieve high efficiency and high return of investment in every sector, organisation is using world-class analytical tools to guide clients through complex choices. IT professionals have to carry additional moral responsibilities to those held by the population in general. This is because they are capable of making and acting on an informed decision in situations that the general public cannot; because they have not received the relevant training. Alternatively, this could be done by offering an advice on how the IT being used could improve client’s businesses.

In the workplace, the standard for using ethics is set by showing respect, being honest and promoting trust. If the management team uses unethical forms of communication, the team and business could fail. Promoting ethics in the workplace gives employees a sense of worth and trust that could help the business and employees succeed. The client places trust in the IT professional on the basis that the service provided will be of benefit to them. It would be quite possible for the professional to use his authority to exploit the client. For example, one can mentioned his ability to access to client’s payroll data used in program testing and plans for reorganization. Imagine the consequences if it is being misused. The opportunities lies in context where they are currently supporting their clients irrespective of what IT brand equipments is being used such as Toshiba, Dell, Acers and many more. They assist on the warranty repair and help clients to make and inform business change decisions. This allows those IT professionals who act with conscience to practice in the knowledge that they will not be undermined commercially by those who have less ethical qualms. It also maintains the client’s trust in their profession, meaning that the clients will continue to seek their services.

The Model of Ethical IT (see figure) may thus serve as a powerful conceptual tool. It illustrates the relationships between various key elements in the IT space. It therefore offers a means by which IT professionals may interact with the concepts in an experiential way. Thus, educators may employ the model to stimulate conceptual shifts. Individual professionals may be prompted by the model to reflect on the applicability of the various citizenships to their everyday practice. Academics may interact with the model when defining the scope of IT professionals’ ethical responsibility. Industry leaders may also be inspired by the model when setting standards of conduct and statements of aspiration. According to Stoodley et al. (2010), this model illustrates more clearly the widening awareness in these experiences. For example, a progression may be seen in professionals’ awareness of the beneficiaries across the citizenships (in the top right hand corner of the expanding rectangles), as professionals increasingly include a wider range of people from their inner circle, through the organisation and client, to humanity. This widening awareness is equally evident in the Act and Intention. The model makes the concept of an increasingly outwardly focussed regard conceptually evident to the viewer.

With the growth of IT, ethical issues such as privacy, intellectual rights and social responsibility need to be debated until there is widespread agreement about ethical standards for IT professions. Indeed, to challenge one’s ethics could be done in many ways such as talking to someone even if it feels silly. Nevertheless, it is very difficult for those independent of the IT profession to monitor practice, leaving the possibility that a code of practice may be self serving. This is because the nature of IT professions is that they have almost a complete monopoly on a particular area of knowledge. It has been argued that professions should be allowed to go beyond such confines when they judge it necessary. This is because they are trained to produce certain outcomes which may take moral precedence over other functions of society.


  1. Genrich, M. (March 3, 2010). "Professional Ethics - Practical Challenges."
  2. Johansan, D. (May 1993). The Impact of IT. Charter, Sydney 64(4):26.
  3. Mark Ciampa. (Feb 2006). Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in your world. 2nd ed. Cengage Learning.
  4. Preston, N. (2001) Understanding ethics. (2nd ed.) The Federation Press, Sydney.
  5. Stoodley, Ian and Bruce, Christine and Edwards, Sylvia (2010). Expanding ethical vistas of IT professionals. Information Systems Frontiers, 12(4). pp. 379-387.

React  |  More on the Author  |  More on this Interest Area

Other Views by this Author: Kiva - Loans that Change Lives

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 25-3-2023. All names ™ of their owners.