Computer security and ethics
The advancements in technology have enabled various individuals, organizations and even governments to conduct their day to day operations over the computer systems - Computer security and ethics introduction. Therefore it becomes important that the information that is stored within the computer systems be kept in a safe way, to avoid intrusion by unwanted persons. In addressing this issue of computer security, a number of techniques have been improvised to carry out this function. Such techniques include the use of RFID that is the Radio Frequency Identification tags, which store information on the activities that take place in the organizations. The emerging issue from the use of these security devices is that, the privacy of individuals is being intruded, which is not ethically correct considering the effects which could arise once the information about individuals gets exposed to unintended parties. This research paper will focus on the use of RFID tags, and in relation to that the ethical issues involved such as privacy will be analyzed.
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These are some forms on microchips which are used to record information in the business environment. The devices use the radio frequency capability to collect the information. The information is then relayed using a unique identification number, which can be identified by the computer system. These microchips are technologically enabled in such a way that they do not use any form of batteries, instead they use the power that is derived from the initial radio signals to relay information they have acquired. Most of the retailing businesses like Wal-Mart, Gillette and Tesco among many others have adopted the use of this technological system (McCullagh, 2003).
Some of the benefits that business organizations derive from the use of these technological applications is that, they are able to monitor the changes in their stock levels thus reduce cases of theft, wastages as well as shortages among many other benefits. On the side of the consumers, given that the RFID tags are able to store personal information of the consumers and the technology is able to recognize the details of the customer when he or she visits the business enterprise, it has enabled the customers to make a choice on the variety of products and services as well as makes the shopping process to be more easier. The issues of privacy are raised at this point considering that the RFID tags collect information about the customers when they are carrying out their shopping activities, and once the customer has left the business premises the device still remains active. This raises questions as to what other uses that the information collected finds, besides the one intended for and that is security (McCullagh, 2003).
Given that the RFID tags are able to monitor a number of activities that a person will carry out at various times within and outside the organization, it will be curtailing the individuals’ freedom to act in unconditioned manner. Usually individuals tend to modify their behaviors when they are being observed and thus will not display their true behaviors. The RFID tags pose a threat of monitoring the individuals’ possessions because when they carry out their purchase decisions, information is recorded in these devices as to who buys what and at what cost and the frequency with which the individuals make purchase decisions. Most individuals would not like other people to have such sensitive information about their buying habits (McCullagh, 2003).
In addressing the privacy concerns which have been raised by various concerned persons, the manufacturers of the RFID tags are carrying out experiments which are focused on coming up with devices, which will not tamper with the privacy of the individuals. One of the measures that are in consideration is the development of a kill feature, which shall be inserted in each and every RFID tags. If the installment of that feature becomes a success, the RFID tag can then be destroyed after having collected the required information. Consideration is being made on at what point these act will be executed, whether at the point of sale or even at home among other appropriate places (McCullagh, 2003).
The technology has managed to benefit most organizations in improving their business operation. They have been generally accepted to be used by the laws and regulations, which govern the business enterprises. The major points which organizations need to take into consideration in the application of the technology are that, they be able to notify their customers about the presence and use of the technology. Once the customers have completed their business transactions, and they are leaving the organization, the RFID tags will need to be disabled at that point in time. The other third consideration that organizations need to make is to ensure that, they place the RFID tags on the packaging material of the product that the customer buys from the organization, instead of the placing it on the product itself. Finally, the organizations have to ensure that the RFID tags are located in locations where they can be seen by the customers, and in addition to that, the tags should be easy to remove after they have served the intended purpose (McCullagh, 2003). In complying with the above mentioned requirements, then it will be ethical for the organization to use the RFID tags.
It is important for business enterprises to embrace technology in their business operations so as to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. The costs which come with the use of the technology, concerns the ethical issues which need to be taken into consideration while using the technology. In complying with the ethical standards, the organizations will be able to meet the needs and expectations of their customers, which is for their own benefit as they pursue to achieve their goals.
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McCullagh, D (January 13, 2003). RFID tags: Big Brother in small. Cnet news. Retrieved online: http://news.cnet.com/2010-1069-980325.html