Ethical Analysis of ICT: Case study

Task

Write a 2500 word report that addresses the ethical issues in the following case study.

 

Edward Snowden—an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, working at the National Security Agency (NSA)—is responsible for what may turn out to be the most significant leak of classified information in U.S. history. In June 2013, Snowden admitted to passing classified documents to reporters at The Guardian and The Washington Post—revealing details of NSA surveillance programs that collect and perform data mining on hundreds of millions of U.S. phone and Internet traffic records to identify possible links to known terrorists. Shortly after leaking the documents, Snowden fled the country to avoid federal charges. Some people call Snowden a whistle-blower for drawing attention to NSA programs they feel violate civil rights and the Constitution. Others consider him a traitor and feel he should be heavily prosecuted. Please research this incident and write the report as indicated in this task.

 

 

 

 

Doing Ethics Technique – Hints and Tips

 

The 'Doing Ethics' technique is a process for analysing ethical issues in any scenario. It doesn't guarantee that what you come up with will be the best solution, but it does help you to think ethically. The technique may seem a little vague and perhaps lacking guidance, however the following might help you to understand how to apply the technique in order to better understand ethical analysis.

 

Q1. What's going on?

This is a synopsis of what the case is all about. It can be taken from a variety of perspectives, for example, from the perspective of a person raising a complaint, in which case, it is a synopsis of the complaint. It can be taken from the perspective of an involved observer, in which case, it is an outline of what was observed, without going into too much detail. Where you see multiple perspectives, you should describe them here.

 

Q2. What are the facts?

This is a descriptive list of the facts of the case. This doesn't just describe the case; it lists the facts as they are known (from all sources and perspectives), and also what one might reasonably consider to be possibilities. For example, if a person was raising a complaint, Question 1 would outline their complaint, and Question 2 would provide the evidence to both support and refute that argument. All such facts must be demonstrable or supportable. It would be worthwhile to assign a credibility weighting to each fact, to help with later analysis.

 

Q3. What are the issues?

This is a list of ALL the issues that are involved in the case. In Question 5 we can extract only the ethical issues for further analysis, but for now, simply extract and describe every relevant issue you can think of.

 

Q4. Who is affected?

This is a list of all the stakeholders involved in the case. This need not be restricted to the ones specifically mentioned in the case; you should consider who/what else might be affected by the issues listed at Question 3, regardless of the degree to which they are affected. In this question, you should describe how each stakeholder is affected, both positively and negatively, and perhaps comment on the degree of effect.

 

Q5. What are the ethical issues and implications?

For this question, you need to extract only the ethical issues identified at Question 3. List the ethical issues, discuss them in terms of classical ethical theory (as best you can), and discuss their implications - on the stakeholders and on the community in general.

 

Q6. What can be done about it?

This question elicits a general idea of what can be done to resolve the case, whether those ideas are practical, possible, or not. Generally what kind of resolutions might there be? You need not go into great detail to answer this question, as its purpose is to provide a basis for answering Question 7, but you do need to think broadly and laterally to come up with several alternatives.

 

 

Q7. What are the options?

This question requires that you list and describe (in detail) all the possible options that might be available to resolve the case. Be creative here; the most obvious options are not always the best. It's possible that not all options will result in a positive outcome for all stakeholders. List and describe at least three different options, and discuss the benefits and detriments of each.

 

Q8. Which option is best - and why?

In answering this question, you need to assess which of the options described in Question 7 is the best. You are recommending one of several options here, so you need to argue for your recommendation, providing a solid basis in fact and reasonable (and supportable) conjecture. You should add some of your own intellectual property, as an ICT professional, into answering this question. Supporting your argument based on classical ethical theory is not a requirement at this point, but it is what would be expected if you were a professional Ethicist.

 

 

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