Computer Ethics PHI3626 Chapter 4

Computer Ethics 3rd Edition by Deborah G. Johnson

These are the questions from the book with my answers, which are what I understood from studying the information in this book.

Chapter 4 Questions

  1. What are the three categories of problematic behavior on the Internet according to the author? Give examples of each.

    My Answer: Hacking: Gaining unauthorized access to computer systems, releasing viruses, taking control of Web sites, and making denial of service attacks on Web sites. This type of behavior undermines the reliability and security of the Internet.

    Any form of crime you can imagine (new versions of familiar crimes) including slander, fraud, harassment, terrorism, illegal forms of gambling, solicitation of minors, and so on, for they all can be done using the Internet.

    Netiquette: A set of informal social conventions specifying how to behave when interacting on the Internet.

  2. What are the morally significant characteristics of communication on the Internet?

    My Answer: Global, interactive scope: Multidirectional and interactive. Internet is communication from many to many. The Internet puts this power in the hands of many, creating the possibility of interactive communication with speed and ease, on a global scale.

    Anonymity: The personís physical appearance and the sound of their voice are not available.

    Reproducibility: Because of reproducibility, every action, transaction, or event that takes place in the Internet can be recorded and this leads to a wide range of privacy and surveillance issues.

  3. How was the term hacker originally used? How is it generally used now?

    My Answer: Hackers originally referred to a computer enthusiasts and hacking referred to the feats such enthusiasts were able to accomplish. Hackers were individuals who loved computers and would spend hour and hours figuring out how to do clever things on them.

    Hackers began to be used to refer to those who used computers for illegal actions; especially gaining unauthorized access to computer systems, and stealing (and then sharing) proprietary software.

    Hacker and hacking are now routinely used to refer to those who gain unauthorized access and accomplish other disruptive feats.

  4. What are the four arguments that can be given in defense of hacking?

    My Answer: All information should be free.

    Break-ins illustrate security problems to those who can do something about them.

    Breaking into a computer system does no harm as long as the hacker changes nothing. And, if the hacker learns something about how computers systems operate, then, something is gained at no loss to anyone.

    Hackers use to argue that they would keep Big Brother at bay. The thrust of the argument is that computers and information technology are being used to collect information about individuals and to do things to individuals that they donít want done.

  5. What are the counters to each of these arguments?

    My Answer: It causes harm;

    it violates legitimate privacy and property rights;

    it often deprived uses of access to their own computer systems and to the Internet;

    and it compels investment in security when the invested resources might have been used for other activities.

    The arguments in defense of hacking are not convincing. Hacking is unethical and has rightly been made illegal.

  6. Is there a morally significant difference between those crimes committed on the Internet that can also be committed without the Internet?

    My Answer: No, it does not exactly thrust us into entirely unfamiliar moral territory; rather the new instrumentation allow us to do things in a new ways and calls on us to think about what the new capabilities means for our moral ideas, our moral values, and principles.

  7. What is Netiquette?

    My Answer: It can be defined as "the dos and don'ts of online communications" or as "informal rules of the road" or "common courtesy online." Violations of netiquette may be considered unethical but they are not illegal.

    If Internet users fallow the netiquette rules, there will be less reason for legislation.

  8. What is flaming?

    My Answer: A flame in an inflammatory or insulting message sent via e-mail or in other forms of on line communication such as chartrooms.

  9. What is spamming?

    My Answer: Spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail.

    It is the e-mail equivalent of junk mail.

    Spam is considered by many Internet users to be so annoying and disruptive that efforts are being made to make spam illegal.

    The U.S. Congress has tried to pass several pieces of legislation banning spam, but, as of this moment, all the attempts have been unsuccessful.

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Deborah G Johnsonís Conclusion:

So many of the activities of daily life are being moved to the Internet that it is only slightly far-fetched to say that human life is being recreated in a new medium. The new medium has special features and I have identified global, interactive scope, anonymity, and reproducibility as morally significant features. Among other things, these special features of the Internet lead to several types of problematic behavior. I distinguished three such types: hacking, new versions of familiar crimes, and violations of netiquette. The challenge of the Internet is to take advantage of the new possibilities it offers and to develop it in ways that serve humanity well. This requires shaping human behavior on the Internet, not the least of which is the design of the technology. All of these approaches should be used and coordinated. None of them alone will do the job.


These questions and the chapter conclusion come from the book "Computer Ethics" 3rd edition by Deborah G. Johnson. The conclusion and questions come from this book, but the answers are what m3cats found in the text of that book. The purpose of this duplication is for a study guide for PHI3626a at UCF during the spring of 2003.

Computer Ethics PHI3626 Chapter 5

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