MIS- 2000 words Individual Report Assessment. Essay Example

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Ethical and Social Issues in IS 3

Ethical and Social Issues in information systems

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It is no doubt that information systems have revolutionized the exchange and transfer of information from one person to another. Today, the number of companies embracing the use of information systems is increasing at unprecedented levels. Information systems provide quality, efficiency, speed, reliability and accuracy for the information that enables organizations to attain their set objectives. Ethics being the accepted code of conduct for an entity, it plays a significant role in information systems (AO’Brien et al. 2006). Typically, organizations operating ethically remain competitive, stay longer in the market; its services and products are warmly welcomed in the market, and it grows steadily as compared to unethical organizations. Some of the ethical virtues required in information systems include effectiveness, innovation, the art of saving expenses and costs, efficiency and the ability to maximize a market potential among others. Despite the increased use of information systems, there are some managers who are still unable to determine IS business requirements since they have little or no information system knowledge and its benefits. Lack of such knowledge can result in acting unethically which might result in dire consequences for the corporation (AO’Brien et al. 2006). Informed consumers prefer corporations that act in a visibly ethical manner. Corporations ignoring social and ethical aspects will not gain but only lose its consumers. This paper examines the ethical and social concerns in information systems.

Ethical issues identified

There exist several ethical concerns in information systems. The first ethical issue is the aspect of privacy. Several questions such as what specific information should be disclosed and which should not be, under what conditions such information should be disclosed arises (Mason 2006). Consumers have become more informed and are more likely to be asking such questions. There are two main forces that impede our privacy; first is the unprecedented growth of IT with the enhanced computation, surveillance, storage, retrieval, and communication. The other threat is the increased importance of information while making any form of decision making. Policy makers covet information and would do anything to obtain information. For example, there was a recent scandal that involved hacking of celebrity personal photographs on their iCloud accounts. These clearly presents the ease of accessing other people’s personal information, thus privacy is compromised. Such issues present the need of establishing ethical standards in the information technology industry.

Information accuracy is the other major ethical issue in information systems. Inaccurate or misinformation can foul people’s lives especially involving people in authority or power. Typically, an effective decision making process will be driven by accurate information. However, today business is full of hate and love relationship that threaten information accuracy. Furthermore, unlike in the past, information systems have now enabled interconnected and complex processes to be processed at the same time such that a single problem might result in a ripple effect on the entire process (Mason 2006). For instance, the Google+ which is an application of Google freely allows for social interactions between its users. Sometimes the site is misused to spread hate and rumors which can have adverse effects on individuals and organizations. Information is presented raw by the users, there’s no editing to ensure that the information meets the ethical standards. Information accessibility is the other major ethical issue. Literacy is the main avenue of information; people have to stay abreast with technological changes (Mason 2006). In an information system society every person should have intellectual skills to handle information, have access to the information technologies that convey or process information, they could be TVs, laptops, radios or libraries finally one need to have access to the information itself.

Another ethical issue is on the issue of system quality regarding the quality of data and systems errors. An ethical information system should be flawless, but this is never the case for the corrupt organizations. For instance, china is widely known for producing substandard electronics at cheaper prices. These products such as Techno mobile phones are prone to break down. These electronics are not flawless and do not satisfy the needs of its consumers effectively. An inadequate system will be noticeable by constant software errors and bugs, poor input data quality and facility or hardware failures. Computer abuse such as spams result into high costs in handling the spam, loss of jobs due to re-engineering work and inequity in accessibility since some people can afford internet access or to computers while others are not accessible to such.

The last ethical issue in information systems is intellectual property rights. Concerns regarding information and how it should be transmitted are some of the moral and economic reasons revolving around intellectual property. Producing a single item of information can be costly but once it is produced, reproducing it can be easily be done and also to share the same information. It is hard to safeguard original information since it can be replicated without interfering with the actual information. Moreover, it was difficult to gain appropriate reimbursements when another person uses your primary information. The issues on encryption, copyrights, oaths of confidentiality and patents are some of the used protectors of intellectual property, but they are not very effective (Mason 2006). For example, the Nokia Company which majored in the production of Nokia electronics faced a lot of counterfeiting challenges especially from china. The challenge was dire which made it merge with the Microsoft Company. From the merge they have been able to overcome some of the ethical challenges.

Social issues in information systems

Social issues in institutions are one of the most discussed topics in information systems research. Social issues mainly relate to the human factor regarding utilization and development of information system and information systems planning. Some of the social issues in information systems include;

Human interaction issues which mainly focuses on the hiring and firing of information systems personnel, leadership, and motivation, organizational frontiers of information systems or social presence (Laudon & Laudon 2004).The Google Company has been applauded by their fair and just employment and deployment of its workers. However, the Apple Company has been criticized for discrimination especially the blacks. There have been several claims from its black employees that they are only given the lower job scales and rare career development opportunities.

Security issues- involve data protection, intranet abuse, and virus creation, misuse of data, standards and fraud with systems. Despite the Apple Company being criticized for discrimination, it has been credited for having the best security strategies for its products. None of its products have ever been counterfeited nor reproduced.

Relationship issues- entail virtual teams, development partnerships, group cohesiveness, group facilitation, buyer-supplier linkages, collaboration, and networking. Professional sites such as LinkedIn enhance relations among its users and brings together sharing similar ideologies.

Cultural issues-comprises of developing trust, incorporation of new technologies, social environments, power asymmetry, and policy implementation.

Ethical issues- involve monitoring of employees electronically, intellectual property rights, utilization of data and the ethics or morals involved in the usage of information systems (Laudon & Laudon 2004).

The constructs that need to be examined under social issue include; Judgment, Accountability, Excitement, Perspective, Power, Understanding, Trust, Creativity, Synergy, Collaboration, Participation, Cohesiveness, Presence, Support, Change, Utilization, Confidence, Certainty, Flexibility, Commitment and Satisfaction.

Reflections from various scholars

As earlier stated social and ethical issues in information system has drawn mixed reactions from various scholars. Some scholars argue that social and ethical issues are closely linked. Problems mainly faced by Information system managers are mostly reflected in social debate. The ripple effects that arise due to ethical and social issues have five primary moral dimensions. They include; accountability and control, information obligations and rights, system Quality, property rights and obligations and quality of life. Changes in information systems are increasing at higher levels such that they cannot be incorporated into the information system of an institution. It takes relatively longer time to develop and incorporate etiquette, social responsibility, approved rules, and expectations.

Technological trends that result in ethical issues

Information systems have heightened ethical issues and affected the existing social arrangements. It has also given way for criminal behaviors such identity theft. Technical trends responsible for the heightened ethical and social concerns include networking advances that allow copying of personal information through the internet thus violating personal privacy and subsequently a social and ethical concern. Over dependent on computer information systems for complex and critical operations have eased organizations operations (Salehnia, 2002). They provide safe data storage techniques that have declined storage costs and are responsible for the multiplying databases on potential customers, employees or individuals maintained by the public or private institutions. Opportunity for the mass storage has made it possible for violation of personal privacy since it is cheap. Due to the advancements made in data analysis, organizations can obtain detailed information about a person. Digging into personal information is unethical. The use of the nonobvious relationship awareness (NORA) allows organizations and the government to do profiling (Kizza 2010). Such techniques are useful in enhancing homeland security; however, at the same time a problem as it gets into personal information thus an unethical behavior.

Ethics in information systems

Some of the required code of conduct in information system includes;

  • Accountability: information system managers must be responsible for the actions or decisions they undertake (Salehnia, 2002).

  • Due process: following all the set laws correctly and to the letter.

  • Responsibility: encompasses accepting duties, costs and obligations for decisions.

  • Liability: the organization must step up to be liable for any legal damages (Salehnia, 2002).

Social and ethical principles

Laudon & Laudon (2011) states the following principles:

Descartes’ rule of change: Descartes argues that if an information system task cannot be repeated continuously then, it is not the right option to pursue.

Golden rule: it is pegged on the common saying “do unto others what you would wish to be done unto you.” For instance, the Apple Company presents itself as the best brand in the industry because it offers exactly when the consumers needs.

Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Immanuel states that if an information system action is not right for everyone to pursue then, it is deemed not right for anyone.

The risk aversion principle: it encourages information system practitioners to pursue an action that produces the least harm and has a lower cost. For example, does the information system meet human ergonomics.

Utilitarian principle: it suggests that an action plan that achieves a greater return is the one that should be pursued.

The ethical rule also known as the ‘no free lunch rule: it states that anything tangible or intangible is owned by someone unless there is a particular declaration stating otherwise. The Apple and Google Company are in a way pegged on this rule because its products are relatively highly priced to capture the middle and the high class clients. It’s a brand that not just anybody can afford.

Critical analysis of ethical issues

Information managers should always anticipate and be ready to handle ethical issues or situations. To effectively deal with social or ethical issues, the following five-step process can be ideal;

The first step is to identify and clearly describe the ethical issue. Establish the cause, who did it, where, how and when (Kizza 2007). This helps in getting facts from the opposing parties and in defining the solution.

The next step is to define the issue and determine the higher-order values involved. Parties to a conflict will always claim to be after a higher value such as protection of intellectual property, privacy, freedom or a free enterprise system.

The third step is to identify stakeholders. Identify people interested in the outcome of the conflict and also determine what they want (Kizza 2007). It will be helpful in designing a solution.

Come up with options that can be implemented and finally identify the potential outcomes of the choices made as some options ethically good while others may be ethically disastrous.

Managing ethics

It is the responsibility of every to ensure that they act ethically. Information system managers need to act with utmost truth and justice, be socially responsible and meet societal needs, corporate behavior and consumer autonomy. To effectively manage social and ethical issues in information systems, the following theories are used;

The utilitarian theory implies that actions and plans can be evaluated by their results or consequences (Laudon & Laudon 2011). Information system managers should ensure that any plan or action implemented must yield a positive outcome for a large number of its users. For instance, when the Nokia Company merged and formed the Microsoft Company, it was for good because its market share and quality of its products improved.

The theory based on rights suggests that people have fundamental rights and that their rights need to be respected (Laudon & Laudon 2011). Information managers are tasked with the responsibility of initiating ethics in their organizations to gain a competitive advantage. This means that they should integrate ethical concepts in information systems operations. It is important to stab with a code of conduct that will guide the activities within the organizations.


It is clear that information systems play significant roles in organizations. It enables organizations to attain its goals and achieve a competitive advantage. The information system can be used for right or wrongly used. It is, therefore, the sole responsibility of the information system manager to check the flow of information so that it can yield positive results for the organization. They should thrive to ensure that information system activities are ethical and that no fraudulent activities are done with the information systems. The IS executive need to establish with moral principles and values to act as a guide. Having ethics will enable employees, and all stakeholders are aware of the required policies for the organization to maintain a good public reputation. All employees using information system need to have an understanding of the significance of ethics and inculcate the needed ethical conduct in all activities. Some of the ethics that need to be instilled include respecting other people’s privacy, giving proper credit to intellectual property, honoring confidentiality, being honest and trustworthy, honoring property rights including patents and copyrights and also contributing to the general well-being of the society and humans.

To establish good ethical decision a good ethical theory has to be implemented. Today, information system has widened the spectrum of learning essential to attain high literacy levels. To be literate, we need intellectual skills, access, and technology. Scholars ascertain that due to the growth of networking, the ethical and social issues will continue to heighten as we move into the digital century.


AO’Brien, J., Marakas, G.M., Hills, T.M.G. and Lalit, M.R., 2006. Management information systems.

Kizza, J. M. (2010). Ethical and social issues in the information age. London, Springer.

Kizza, J.M., 2007. Ethical and social issues in the information age (Vol. 999). Springer.

Laudon, K. C., & LAUDON, J. P. (2004). Management information systems: organization and technology. New York, Macmillan Pub. Co.

Laudon, K.C. and Laudon, J.P., 2011. Essentials of management information systems. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

Mason, R.O., 2006. Four ethical issues of the information age. Mis Quarterly, pp.5-12

Salehnia, A. (2002). Ethical issues of information systems. Hershey, Pa. ;London, IRM Press.