Category Archives: Ethics

The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists

This article from The Atlantic raises numerous questions about technology, privacy and ethics. Do developers have a responsibility towards society to not create systems that allow personal information to be disclosed to government bodies? With the privacy laws in New Zealand, how far away are we from a complete surveillance state?

Edward Joseph Snowden is a computer professional, former CIA employee, and former government contractor who copied classified information from the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and United Kingdom Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for public disclosure in 2013. The information revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and Five Eyes with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments. On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.
Edward Joseph Snowden: wanted by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.

“Computer scientists and cryptographers occupy some of the ivory tower’s highest floors. Among academics, their work is prestigious and celebrated. To the average observer, much of it is too technical to comprehend. The field’s problems can sometimes seem remote from reality.

But computer science has quite a bit to do with reality. Its practitioners devise the surveillance systems that watch over nearly every space, public or otherwise—and they design the tools that allow for privacy in the digital realm. Computer science is political, by its very nature.”

This article is well worth a look as many of our assessments require discussion of ethical considerations.