The advent of computers and their related technologies has greatly impacted on everyday personal, academic, and professional lives. The internet has become one of the leading sources of information as many people prefer to access and analyze the information they need from the World Wide Web. The internet has so much information which is very accessible to anyone who has a connected computer, and this includes small children. Teachers, students, and educational institutions have increasingly relied on the internet for learning both inside and outside the context of the classroom.
How these technologies are implemented however determines if their application is good (ethical) or not good (unethical). In this essay, the author seeks to explain how technology might be in use to cause good benefits to the society and bad benefits. One major benefit of technology is that it has created efficiency in everyday life. Computers can process large amounts of data with minute precision, and this application is in use by business organizations all over the world (Cohen, 1995).
However, the information in the World Wide Web is accessible to many people, and if sufficient security measures are not put in place, this benefit could end up being abused. There is thus a need for software developers, organizations, schools and governments to work together in ensuring that technological systems that protect the integrity, confidentiality and privacy of information posted on the internet is ensured. Many unscrupulous individuals like hackers, cybercriminals and cyber-terrorists are always lurking to seize personal information from the internet with the purpose of orchestrating several types of crime.
With the amount of money being paid in the black market for private information, hackers are always on the prowl waiting for an opportunity to cause havoc on academic institutional, governmental and corporate websites (Guangrong, 1998). The information they obtain ends up being used to commit crimes like online fraud, identity theft and espionage. With this unethical usage being a very probable occurrence, very robust security software applications like anti-spyware and anti-viruses must be made so that the integrity of information stored in the internet can be protected.
As I stated earlier, as long as the computers available in schools and libraries are connected to the internet, there is no limit to the diversity of information school children can gain access to. Any implementation of technology must be made with the objective of serving the community it targets with benefits. The objective of information technology services in schools is not that school children can access adult material or any other information that can be of bad influence. This is where technology steps in. ffective technologies of combating unethical sites (that is the ones with pornographic material, hate campaigns as well as a variety of other unsuitable content) should be implemented in schools and at homes to protect the innocence of children (Guangrong, 1998) The more the internet technology penetrates, the more teachers and students are finding it a useful tool for teaching and learning (Fung, 1998). The internet sounds and looks pretty simple to anyone who does not really understand the technicalities behind it.
The use of persuasive technology on the internet is one example of technologies that could lure both teachers and students in orchestrating the practice of unethical activities. Persuasive technology as used in the internet poses a very serious challenge to educational instructors who choose to deliver their services through the internet. There is a very high risk of persuasive technologies being used to intentionally or unintentionally make children submit sensitive information about themselves or their families without knowing the risks they are exposing themselves and their families to.
By definition, persuasive technologies are those interactive technologies which are intended to change an individual’s behaviors or attitudes towards specific issues including social, sexual and political beliefs and practices (Ellison, Steinfied, & Lampe, 2007). They can also be used to promote healthy eating habits and awareness on environmental conservation. These are examples of technologies which can be used to promote good use of technology and also bad use as explained below.
Intelligence systems designed to monitor the activities of employees as they log in and out of the systems in the workplace constitute a healthy of ethical use of technology since it ensures they effectively use the resources at their disposal for the benefit of their employer and themselves (Cohen, 1995). With social networking sites and chat rooms increasing by the day, employees are developing the tendency to waste a lot of man hours on these sites. Their productivity therefore goes down and the effect is finally transmitted to the economy.
Additionally, employees can use office systems to do illegal things like spy on their employers or other entities. If persuasive technologies are put in place to monitor their activities, then there will be less breakage of law and ethics. The same persuasive technologies can be put in place to monitor the movement of employees in service provision stores like supermarkets, restaurants and bars. This could end up ensuring that they stick to etiquette like washing their hands after visiting the washrooms or after getting into contact with other unhygienic practices, but it is unethical since it undermines their dignity and creates distrust.
The same applies to companies who require visitors to their websites to submit their personal information before utilizing certain services before using a certain utility, for example downloading a software package or accessing a certain article. Legally, technology can be used to ensure adherence to laws especially those formulated to control the process of conducting or dissipating information on the web. If monitoring software can be installed at internet gateways to track any illegal undertakings being conducted in the web, the culprits can be tracked down and stopped to promote the safety of other internet users.
However, this in itself has ethical implications in that every bit of content will have to be checked, and the privacy of information will be compromised albeit by a law enforcing agency. The motive of monitoring agencies may be good, but it may be used to conduct morally unacceptable activities by all or interested parties. Finally, there has been widespread condemnation of censorship, particularly in the case of Google Corporation and the government of the People’s Republic of China.
The Chinese government stipulates strict censorship of the media including the internet. Not every type of information can be accessed, and this is achieved by the use of inhibitors to the various protocols used to search for and access information. This directly violates the people’s right to information and is therefore not only unethical but also illegal. From these examples, it is evident that the internet and other tools provided for by technology can be used to constitute good and bad use.