Framework for implementing an ethical strategy within organisations

Samer A. Salem


The rapid pace in the world of communications and computers has prompted some analysts to call the twentieth century the century of information.

Evolution of IT has started many years ago, but the real growth occurred in the last two decades. For example, the current use of the Internet technology is changing the world\x{FFFD}s culture. People are using email from their portables and hand-held computers to contact each other rather than sending faxes and letters. They are trading and making business over the net without even knowing or seeing each other. They also share relevant information and actively participate in group discussions.

The use of information technology is everywhere. You can not go without recognizing it in every place; in governmental authorities, at work, in the airports and tourists offices, and even in the supermarkets.

People get their medical insurance, social security records and issue their driving licenses in a computer format. In the near future, the Egyptian citizens will be having their national IDs using a large database system developed by the cabinet Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) to issue unique identification numbers.

The world’s culture is highly dependent on IT. Whenever a computer system suffers a breakdown, most of the business processes are paused. In the last few weeks, for example, the space vehicle MER has encountered serious problems in its computer system. This has led to its course deviation and even losing its track. Both the Soviet and American space authorities send a repair vehicle to replace the malfunctioning computer in MER.

Cyberspace, or the electronic frontier, may be perceived as a retreat of communities; some communities are linked whereas others are isolated. Communities currently use technology and share data and information, however they do not share a hierarchy of virtues and ethics to use this technology. Although IT is very important, the misuse of this technology is very dangerous and can raise many problems. Many countries are depending on their existing databases and technology resources which makes it crucial to lose any data or manipulate it by unauthorized entities.

The ethics dilemma about privacy issues in today’s use of technology has been much explored. It mandated many ethical and technical challenges over both the individual and group behaviour. The question being raised is how to keep individual and organizational privacy? The discussion of privacy from a personal perspective vs. organization’s viewpoint is a continuing debate.

One of the main concerns of this modern technology is keeping privacy. Everyone needs to be sure that his/her own documents and emails are not accessed except by him/her permission. Organizations need to secure its data and hide it from intruders and illegal use. Government records are extremely important to secure and so is the banking and stock exchanges records and transactions.

Keeping privacy is a two dimensions matter; a technical dimension and the a personal dimension. The technical dimension has to secure the handling of data and ensure that the data is encrypted and secured. It is the responsibility of technology to provide solutions to prohibit the unauthorized entities from hacking into others’ information. On the other hand, people and society share the other part of responsibility to use the information in a more ethical behaviour.

The ethical behaviour can be imposed in organizations by adopting adequate organization structure and appropriate control. People use or misuse of technology is highly dependent on their organizations; the system which does not allow to share relevant information among the employees is risking their violation of rules to get this information by themselves.

The use of technology will enforce people to change so as to adapt to the advance in technology, many norms have to be changed. Those social impacts are crucial in sustaining a successful business and good working environment.

The outline proposed hereinafter provides a framework of using IT in a more ethical behaviour from both organizations and individuals and discusses the social impact of IT on the people’s culture.


Overview of IT evolution Current use of IT Social impact of using technology


Computer crimes and privacy intrusion Defining privacy Computer privacy Privacy in Internet / banking security Privacy in governmental records Egyptian viewpoint to applying privacy

Ethics dimensions

Networking ethics and netiquette Ethics in science Ethics in scientific research and copyrights Computer ethics Ethics in company’s information and governmental file keeping

Factors affecting ethical behaviour

Personal culture Business environment Organizational structure

Responsibilities in the world of technology

Personal responsibilities Organization responsibilities Governmental responsibilities International responsibilities

Developing an ethical strategy in Egyptian organizations

Copyrights dilemma in Egypt Benefits of violating copyrights Problems facing applying ethical behaviour Promoting ethical culture