fair to and supportive of their colleagues; and participating in lifelong learning regarding the practice of their profession and promoting an ethical approach to the practice of the profession.

Some of the topics considered under the rubric of information technology ethics or computer ethics include the following:15

Computers in the workplace, e.g., what is an ethical policy for employee use of computers in the workplace?

Computer crime, e.g., how does a crime committed with the use of a computer differ, if at all, from a similar crime that is committed without a computer?

Privacy and anonymity, e.g., what are the consequences (both incremental and cumulative) for privacy and anonymity of any given deployment of information technology?

Intellectual property, e.g., how and to what extent, if any, should intellectual property rights be associated with software?

Professional responsibility, e.g., what are the special ethical responsibilities of IT workers, if any, in the course of their employment?

Globalization, e.g., how and to what extent should disparities in accessibility of information technology between “have” and “have-not” nations be addressed?


A common thread among the disciplinary ethics described above is the phenomenon of convergence among the technology disciplines. In this context, convergence means that the disciplines in question are to varying degrees becoming increasingly interdependent. To the extent that this is true, the different ethics of each discipline may—or may not—pose conflicts with each other.


Modern international law has its origins in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which is commonly considered the beginning of an international system based on nation-states. At its root, the nation-state arrangement means that international law governs relationships between sovereign states, and that individual states have exclusive jurisdiction over events and matters in their own territories.


15 See Terrell Ward Bynum, “Computer Ethics: Basic Concepts and Historical Overview,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2001, available at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2001/entries/ethics-computer/.

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