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NKUMBA UNIVERSITY

Department of Information & Communication Technology

Course: Legal and Ethical Issues in Computing (MIT)


Course Descriptions

In an era where information technology changes constantly, a thoughtful response to these rapid
changes requires a basic understanding of IT history, an awareness of current issues, and a
familiarity with ethics. This course in an advanced way covers ethical problems and issues
encountered by computer professionals in today’s environment. This course will cover
provocative issues such as social networking, government surveillance, privacy laws, computer
security and reliability, and intellectual property from all points of view. Students are asked as
they face these challenges to think critically and draw their own conclusions, which ultimately
prepare them to become responsible, ethical users of future technologies. So the level of
discussion and perception of issues are at an advanced level, so it involves critical reasoning and
analysis of scenarios related to computer use habits within the different types of organizations.

Course Objectives
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
 Interpret the legal requirements, ethical issues, and professional issues in the computing
profession.
 Explain different ethical issues arising in the computing profession
 Explain the social impact of decisions and actions of participants in the computing
profession
Learning Outcomes

1. Be familiar with the legal requirements, ethical issues, and professional issues in the
computing profession.
2. Be familiar with types of ethical issues arising in the computing profession.
3. Be familiar with the social impact of decisions and actions of participants in the computing
profession.
4. Be familiar with writing short essays and papers related to legal, ethical and professional
issues in computing.
5. Be familiar with making peer-oriented oral presentations and classroom debates.

COURSE CONTENT
UNIT 1: INTRODUCTION TO ETHICAL COMPUTING
 What is Computer Ethics
 Why You Should Study Computer Ethics
 Historical Development of Computer Ethics

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 The Emergence of Social and Ethical Problems in Computing
 The Emergence of Computer Crimes

UNIT 2: ETHICAL THEORIES;


 Deontology
 Human Nature
 Relativism
 Social contract
 Virtue Ethics

UNIT 3: MORALITY AND THE LAW


 Moral Decision Making
 Moral Codes; Moral Standard
 Laws: the Natural Law; Conventional Law; the Purpose of Law

UNIT 4: ANONYMITY, SECURITY, PRIVACY, AND CIVIL LIBERTIES


 Anonymity and the Internet
 Physical and Information Security
 Value of Privacy
 Information Gathering, Databases, and Privacy
 Privacy Violations and Legal Implications
 Privacy Protection and Civil Liberties
 Ethical and Social Issues; Ethics and Privacy; Ethics and Security
UNIT 5: PROPERTY RIGHTS AND COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY
 Foundations of Intellectual Property Rights
 Copyrights and Copyright Infringement
 Domain of Protection
 Source and Types of Protection
 Duration of Protection
 Strategies of Protection
 The Legal Protection of Computer Software
UNIT 6: SOFTWARE ISSUES: RISKS AND LIABILITIES
 Standards; Reliability; Security; Safety; Quality; Software
 Nature of Software: Complexity
 Risks; Risk Assessment and Management

References

Edgar, Stacey L. (1997). Morality and Machines: Perspectives on Computer Ethics. Sudburry, MA: Jones and
Bartlett Publishers.

Floridi, Luciano (1999). "Information Ethics: On the Philosophical Foundation of Computer Ethics," Ethics and
Information Technology, Vol. 1

Johnson, Deborah G. (1994). Computer Ethics. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Gert, Bernard. (1999). "Common Morality and Computing," Ethics and Information Technology

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Gotterbarn, Don (1991). "Computer Ethics: Responsibility Regained," National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi
Journal, Vol. 71