Generalizing Ethics in an Information-based Society - Page 2

 By Josh Ryder | Posted Oct 16, 2000
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Have the management, and the systems administrators, make a list of concerns they have with the way the system is being abused, and how they would like this problem prevented. The administrators can directly address some restrictions - such as password length and obscurity - through the use of utilities such as "anal." Other issues, such as surfing for porn, must be dealt with in a less informal manner.

"It should be realized that the majority of people, when confronted with an infraction of the code of ethics, would generally mend their ways rather than suffer the consequences."

It should be realized that the majority of people, when confronted with an infraction of the code of ethics, would generally mend their ways rather than suffer the consequences. In truth, the majority of infractions of the code will most likely be inadvertent ... which brings us to the next point: implementation.

Once the code is written, how do we go about making sure people know and understand it? It would be easy for people to abuse their supposed lack of knowledge of the ethics document (at least initially) if a widespread education initiative were not made. A multi-level program is probably the most effective, starting with leaving printed copies of the new mandate in the lunch and coffee areas, as well as releasing an organization-wide memo updating everyone as to the current situation. Once this information has been available for a time, management can informally circulate around the company to see if there are any questions about the new document, thus re-enforcing the idea that the document is to be taken quite seriously. In a non-business situation (such as a university) reading of the code can be made a prerequisite to account activation, so new users will not have any excuse for being uninformed.

The writer must remember at all times that they are dealing with a wide spectrum of people that each have their own unique upbringing and thus their own unique view of what is right and wrong. The widest spectrum of values must be addressed, while the guidance and control the Code sets out to accomplish must be maintained.

In next week's installment ( How Does the Code of Ethics Relate to Security? ) I will expand upon writing a Code of Ethics document, and how it relates to security with, thrown in for good measure, some knowledge gained the hard way from the more difficult situations that can arise.

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