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Ethical Case Analysis - Essay Example

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It defines moral good and bad that in a society. This paper offers an ethical analysis to the case, ‘the ethics of hackivism’ from ethical principles and ethical codes’…
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Ethical Case Analysis
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Ethical case analysis Ethics refers to a set of moral principles that are approved and are observed by a society. It defines moral good and bad that in a society. This paper offers an ethical analysis to the case, ‘the ethics of hackivism’ from ethical principles and ethical codes’ perspectives.
Summary of the case
The case explores the role of hacktivists in obtaining and disseminating information to the public. It defines hacktivism as a term for combined efforts of hacking and activism. It is however specific on a group called Anonymous that hacks organizations’ websites to obtain information that it disseminates to the public. It defines the organization’s role as the promotion of availability of information, freedom of speech and transparency. Hacktivism, however, does not necessarily mean criminal ventures as it includes application of websites’ links to publish information on social networks. Posts such as like a particular page for facebook to make donations towards a cause are examples. The author however simplifies its definition to application of the internet to facilitate an objective (Carter, p. 1).
Anonymous is the illustrated example of hacktivist group that breaks into websites whose opinion the organization does not agree with. The group also applies its high level of skills to close down websites such as those of governments and other organizations as counter attack initiatives for actions that are offensive to its objectives. Its reaction to the temporary closure of the Wikileaks website is the recent example. The group is also involved in other mass action movements. The author however notes that most internet users in social network unknowingly participate in hackivism through following hacktivists’ directives to publish links on their social network pages (Carter, p. 1).
Identity of the moral agent
The article identifies two moral agents. Anonymous group is identified as a specific moral agent and the social network users who engage in the type of publications as general moral agents in the case. This is because the parties’ initiatives that involve conveyance of information to the public can be determined as either right or wrong. The act can be right to the effect of truthfully criticizing an evil or advocating for a beneficial initiative but can be bad if the criticism is not based on the truth, leading to harm. Anonymous for example advocates for freedom of expression and acts in defense against authoritarian initiatives. Depending on the consequences of their actions, they can be judged as either good or bad. Actions of individuals in the social media, at least in the individuals perspectives, or if the cause of such publications were true, would be judged as good. Publication of offensive links would however identify bad intentions (Carter, p. 1).
The subject at stake and stakeholders
The issue at stake is hacktivism that involves hacking websites with the aim of intimidating its owners or with the aim of publishing its contents as well as publication of online links by social network users. This involves different groups of stakeholders. The first group of stakeholders is the referents whom are the victims of hacking and the owners of disseminated information. Anonymous that hacks websites for intimidation and publishing together with social network users who share links are another category of stakeholders. The public that forms the target audience of the published information is also a category of stakeholders to the case (Carter, p. 1).
Possible courses of action
One of the possible courses of action against hacktivism initiatives is to subject the organization and individual social network users to regulatory measures such as codes of conduct and subjection to legal frameworks. An authority over Anonymous will control its activities to ensure security of the target organization’s websites. Enforceable measures on social network users will also facilitate accountability to limit publication of links with adverse effects on any member of the society (Carter, p. 1).
Consequences of each course of action
Subjecting Anonymous to legal and ethical regulations will curtail its attacks on websites. Further, it will safeguard the victims’ freedom from intimidation. This will also promote sanity by weakening the organization’s ability to support other questionable initiatives such as those of Wikileaks. The actions will also promote accountability among social network users (Carter, p. 1).
Analysis of the case using ethical theories
The case’s critique over Anonymous’ activities adopts act utilitarianism theory. Under the theory, morality is defined by consequences of an act. An act is for instance moral if it maximizes benefits and immoral if it leads to harmful consequences. The case reviews consequences of the organization’s actions such as intimidation to parties with contrary opinions to those of Anonymous. It also identifies the consequences of published links on social network pages that initiates actions towards an activist’s call. It therefore identifies immorality in Anonymous’ actions and morality in social network’s activism, though the cause may not be real (Carter, p. 1; Landau, p. 414).
The case is however silent on application or rule utilitarianism that focuses on set standards for determination of morality of actions. This is because it does not criticize Anonymous and social network users on any set standard but on its actions (Carter, p. 1; Landau, p. 414).
Applicable clause from ACM code of ethics
Clause 1.1 of the ACM code of ethics and professional conduct, “contribute to society and human well being,” and clause 1.7, “respect the privacy of others” would be the most applicable to the case. This is because the case is a critique of integrity of Anonymous’ activities in breaching its victims’ privacy through illegal retrieval of the victims’ data. The case also points out to the humane attitude of social network users who participates in actions towards alleged charity (Acm, p. 1; Carter, p. 1).
Recommended course of action
The case establishes Anonymous’ activities that are technically independent from any form of legal or ethical control as well as possible participation of individuals to manipulate social network users. This paper recommends establishment of a framework to establish both legal and moral obligations on the organization and members of social networks. This can be achieved through international laws and regulations.
Works cited
Acm. ACM code of ethics and professional conduct. Association For Computing Machinary. October 16, 1992. Web. October 9, 2012. .
Carter, Nath. Hacktivism: The easy way to change the world. April 17, 2012. Web. October 9, 2012. <>.
Landau, Russ. Ethical theory: An anthology. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print. Read More
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