Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
PHL 185
Course Title:
Computer Ethics
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Addresses the ethical and social issues that arise around the use of computer technology. Explores actual and potential applications of computer technology and our ethical Responsibilities when deciding how to best use it. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

On completion of this course the student should be able to:

? Identify and explain different ethical theories as they pertain to issues involving computer technology in order to effectively make moral choices that improve their applications.
? Comprehend and abide by the professional and ethical standards appropriate for information systems professionals.
? Apply an understanding of the moral and legal arguments around intellectual property in order to utilize Internet resources critically and uphold
compliance with intellectual property rights.
? Recognize and reflect on how computer technology affects our notions of property, governance, free speech, justice, and privacy in order to better define one€™s social responsibility.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

In satisfying the assessments, students must demonstrate the ability to present clear ethical arguments using verbal and written communication skills.  Students must demonstrate the ability to obtain, evaluate, and analyze information from the Internet and other sources.

Other assessment choices include:
  • Verbal and / or Written case study analysis.
  • Individual or group projects.
  • Class presentations.
  • Quizzes and/or examinations.
  • In-class interactive role-plays.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

All the major themes should be addressed. The minor themes are ideas for developing the major ones, but don€™t all have to be covered. 

Ethical Paradigms

  • Rules-based ethics
  • Virtue-based ethics
  • Care-based ethics
  • Social Justice-based ethics

Professional Ethics and Responsibilities

  • Codes of ethics
  • Legal considerations

Ethics, Computers and the Internet

  • History
  • Copyright and intellectual property rights
  • Identity theft
  • Hackers
  • Electronic commerce
  • Quality of information
  • Ownership of domain names
  • Governing and Regulating the Internet
  • Free Speech and Content Control in Cyberspace
 Ethics and Electronic Mail
  • E-mail privacy
  • Problems / benefits of e-mail conflict resolution
  • Spam and instant messaging

Impact of Computers on Privacy

  • Definitions and Theories
  • Personal Information on the Internet
  • Consumer Privacy on the Internet
  • Medical Privacy
  • Privacy as Censorship
  • Privacy and Internet Architectures
  • Searching for Solutions
  • Cookies
  • Civil liberties vs. protection from terrorism
  •  Impact centralization of information and security compromises
  •  Government's "right" to collect information about its citizens
  • Industry's insertion of privacy compromising features like:
    • Software that reports to manufacturer without consumer€™s knowledge
    • "Black boxes" in cars that record information about the driver
Security in the Computer Age
  • Trespass in Cyberspace
  • Encryption
  • Securing Electronic Commerce  

Computers and society

  • Computer addiction
  • Political communication
  • Information Overload
  • Social consequences of "online education"
  • Impact of computers on leisure time
  • Impact of computers on children
  • Nation of strangers
  • Interpersonal relationships in the computer age
  • Employment issues
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Visions of the Future  

Access to Computer Technology

  • Digital divide
    • Race issues
    • Gender issues
    • Socio-economic issues
    • Disability issues
    • Age Issues
  • Competition
  • Government intervention