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Computer Related Unethical Practices

Identity Theft and Fraud

Identity theft and fraud are characterized by criminal use of the victim's personal information,
such as a Social Security number, to assume the victim's identity. Identity thieves use the
stolen personal information to create fake identifications, obtain credit cards or access other
resources and benefits. The criminals may install malicious software to gain access to the
victim's computer files and activity, or target commercial and government computer systems
to steal the personal information of hundreds or thousands of potential victims at once.

Digital Piracy

The Internet is often called the "Information Superhighway" because it allows people to find,
share, and distribute information quickly and easily using computers. However, not all that
information is ethical or legal. Distributing and accessing illegal copies of copyrightprotected digital books, movies, music, artwork, software, and other content is a form of
copyright infringement, commonly referred to as "piracy." When digital products and works
are pirated, the content creators lose money they would have otherwise earned had that work
been legally purchased or licensed. (See Reference 3)

Financial Theft and Fraud

Thieves and embezzlers can use computers to steal money from individuals or businesses. A
thief can gain online access to an individual's bank account using a victim's stolen password,
PIN or personal information. Using stolen credit card information, a thief can order goods
online and later sell those goods for cash. An employee with access to business accounting
systems may falsify records or manipulate the systems to embezzle funds.

Information Theft

Spies, criminals, and snoops can steal private or classified information by gaining
unauthorized access to the victim's computer or inappropriately using computers to which
they been given access. Their goals may be to leak or sell classified government documents,
use stolen personal information to extort a victim, gain an advantage over a competitor, or
simply pry into the private life of a family member or coworker. Privacy invasion, spying and
information theft may be punishable under a number of laws designed to protect individuals,
businesses, or national security. Employees caught snooping or stealing data may lose their
jobs even if their acts were technically legal.

Disruption to Computers or Services

Disrupting a computer or network may involve using malicious software to make a computer
unusable or using several computers to block access to a website, network or other resource.
These types of attacks may be done to extort money from the victim, make a political
statement or force the victim into a specific action. Sometimes, the attackers commit these
acts simply for entertainment.


In today's globalised scenario of expanding multilateral trade and commerce, it has become inevitable
for any country to protect its intellectual property by providing statutory rights to the creators and
inventors and thus help them fetch adequate commercial value for their efforts in the world market.
This innovative and creative capacity is protected under the intellectual property system of WTO.
Recognising this fact, India as a founder member of WTO has ratified the Agreement on Trade Related
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). As per the agreement, all member countries including India are to
abide by the mutually negotiated norms and standards within the stipulated timeframe. Accordingly,
India has set up an Intellectual Property Right (IPR) regime, which is WTO compatible and is well
established at all levels whether statutory, administrative or judicial.
The Government has taken a comprehensive set of initiatives to streamline the intellectual property
administration in the country in view of its strategic significance. In the Ministry of Commerce and
Industry, the office of the 'Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM)' has been
set up under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
It administers all matters relating to patents, designs, trademarks and geographical indications and also
directs and supervises the functioning of :-

The Patent Office (including Designs Wing)

The Patent Information System (PIS)

The Trade Marks Registry (TMR), and

The Geographical Indications Registry (GIR)

Besides, a 'Copyright Office' has been set up in the Department of Education of the Ministry of Human
Resource Development, to provide all facilities including registration of copyrights and its neighbouring
As far as issues relating to layout design of integrated circuits are concerned, 'Department of
Information Technology' in the Ministry of Information Technology is the nodal organisation. While,
'Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority' in Ministry of Agriculture administers all
measures and policies relating to plant varieties.
For complementing the administrative set up, several legislative initiatives have been taken. It includes,
the Trade Marks Act, 1999; the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act
1999; the Designs Act, 2000; the Patents Act, 1970 and its subsequent amendments in 2002 and 2005;
Indian Copyright Act, 1957 and its amendment Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1999; Semiconductor
Integrated Circuit Layout Design Act, 2000; as well as the Protection of Plant varieties and Farmer's
Rights Act,2001

Intellectual property (IP) rights are legally recognized exclusive rights to creations of the
mind. Under intellectual property laws, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety
of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and
words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property rights
include copyright,trademarks, patents, industrial design rights, trade dress, and in some
jurisdictions trade secrets.

Although many of the legal principles governing intellectual property rights have evolved over
centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the term intellectual property began to be used,
and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the majority of the world. The
British Statute of Anne (1710) and the Statute of Monopolies (1624) are now seen as the origins
ofcopyright and patent law respectively.

Reverse discrimination is discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group or in
favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group. Groups may be defined in
terms of race, gender, ethnicity, or other factors. This discrimination may seek to redress social
inequalities where minority groups have had less access to the same privileges of the majority
group. In such cases it is intended to remove discrimination that minority groups may already
face. The label reverse discrimination may also be used to highlight the discrimination inherent
in affirmative action programs. Reverse discrimination can be defined as the unequal treatment
of members of the majority groups resulting from preferential policies, as in college admissions or
employment, intended to remedy earlier discrimination against minorities Conceptualizing efforts
as reverse discrimination began to become popular in the early-mid-1970s, the time period that
focused on underrepresentation and affirmative action intended to remedy the effects of past
The concept of reverse discrimination has two different views: a broad sense and a narrow
sense. In a broad sense, it refers to discrimination against Whites or males in employment,
education, and any other areas of life. In a narrow sense, reverse discrimination refers to the
negative impact Whites or males may experience because of affirmative action policies. The two
views are often conflated, which leads to confusion and misinformation.
The law in some countries, such as the UK, draws a distinction between equality of provision
and equality of outcome, based on the idea that identical treatment may sometimes act to
preserve inequality rather than eliminate it. Opponents of this distinction may label it as an
example of reverse discrimination.
When members of a particular group have been barred from a particular employment, it is said
that this group has received less than its fair share of employment in question and deserves to
receive more by way of compensation. Thus, this group is being compensated for past lack of
employment. Therefore, a group already existing in the workplace will be discriminated against,
even if theyve never been denied employment previously. If the point of reverse discrimination is
to compensate a wronged group, it will hardly matter if those who are preferentially hired were
not among the original victims of discrimination.[4] Moreover, the current beneficiaries of reverse
discrimination are not often the same persons as those who were harmed by the original
discrimination, and those who now bear the burden of reverse discrimination are seldom the
same persons as those who practiced the original discrimination. Because of this, reverse

discrimination is said to be both irrelevant to the aim of compensating for past injustices and
unfair to those whose superior qualifications are bypassed.
It is often argued by majority groups that they are being discriminated for hiring and
advancement because of affirmative action policies. However, critics of this argument often cite
the "symbolic" significance of a job has to be taken into consideration as well as
qualifications.[5] Many feel that basing a decision to discriminate against a group of people should
not be based on symbolism but on objective, verifiable fact. Thomas Sowell said that the
meaning of "qualified" has been stretched to mean "quali-fied to be trained," and the "available"
supply includes women who no longer work (usually because of their husbands'
prosperity).Critics also argue that what is termed "reverse discrimination" against majority groups
is, in fact, not discrimination against that group but rather positive discrimination assisting
another group.In other words, rather than the employer assuming a trait or negatively
discriminating against the majority, it is instead positively assisting a minority group.The effect
affirmative action has been shown to have many "Mismatch Consequences" that significantly
hurt schools, students and society as a whole.

In India, among the limited positions for higher education in Government institutions, 50 percent
seats are reserved for members of economically disadvantaged castes and classes.Reserved
category candidates can select a position from the Open 50 percent if he or she has good merit.
This results in further reverse discrimination of Open/General/Non Reserved candidates. Further,
since there are no economic criteria in classifying Reservation, poorer sections of reserved class
often remain poor whereas the affluent section reap benefits for successive generations.Also, the
poorer sections of Open/General Category become devoid of access to higher education for
even slightly low merit on competitive exams. The difference in merit on entrance exams is often
very wide between the reserved and unreserved classes. In India, the term is often used by
citizens protesting against reservation and quotas.

[11.] Diversity and Discrimination.
Some discrimination in hiring is morally permissible. Employers may discriminate between those
who are and those who are not qualified to do a job. DesJardins example: if I am hiring someone to
work on my companys website, I may discriminate between applicants who have had experience
doing such work and those who have not. (239 / 247) There is nothing wrong with this sort of skillsbased discrimination.
Nevertheless, there are other examples of discrimination that are objectionable, unethical,
unfair, unjust. Ordinarily, refusing to hire someone because he or she is of a specific race or
ethnicity, or because she is a woman, is objectionable.[1]

[11.1.] Attempts to Remedy Unjust Discrimination in Hiring.

There are a number of ways of attempting to remedy the problem of objectionable discrimination in
hiring. One is for employers to adopt a policy of passive nondiscrimination:
passive nondiscrimination (df.): the practice of taking into account only an applicant's
ability to do the job when hiring; typically, this will preclude taking his or her race or sex into
consideration. It is also known as a procedural fairness policy and an equal opportunity
As DesJardins notes, [t]here is universal support for equal opportunity within all major
ethical traditions and contemporary political philosophies. (242 / 250)
This approach to the problem is discrimination is totally passive. It requires only that employers not
engage in unjustified discrimination.
But many employers believe that it is their duty to go beyond this passive approach and engage in
active efforts to reduce employment discrimination.
One way in which employers have actively fought discrimination is to adopt an affirmative
action policy:
affirmative action (df.): any policy or action, aimed at securing a more equal workplace,
that goes beyond simple legal access or passive nondiscrimination, but that does not alter the
standards or qualifications for employment. (241 / 249)
One type of affirmative action is diversifying the applicant pool:
diversifying the applicant pool (df.): a form of affirmative action in which an
employer attempts to increase the number of women and minorities in a group of job
applicants, e.g., by advertising for applicants in publications that target women or minorities.
This form of affirmative action is non-controversial, for the following reason:
in one sense, such actions do put the white male at a relatively disadvantageous position
compared to where he would have been had the employer not done it. The candidate pool is
larger and therefore his chances of getting the job are lowered. But few would think that the
white male has been harmed in an ethically relevant sense because he has not been denied
anything to which he has a legitimate ethical claim. No ones rights are violated when an
employer seeks to increase the applicant pool for its positions. (242 / 250)

Yet another way employees have attempted to redress this problem involves altering the previously
existing standards or qualifications for the job, and thus goes beyond affirmative action. This next
sort of policy is known as preferential treatment.[2]
preferential hiring (df.): a policy that go[es] beyond affirmative action by seemingly
changing the job standards in an effort to hire more women and people of color (243 / 250);
there are two types:
preferential hiring from among equally competent applicants: when there is more
than one equally qualified best candidate for a job and when there is a woman or minority
member among those best candidates, the woman or minority member is to be preferred.
preferential hiring from among applicants who are not equally competent: hiring a
woman or minority member even though he or she is not the best qualified applicant for
the job; critics refer to this form of preferential hiring as "reverse discrimination.[3]

Perhaps the most extreme way in which employers have attempted to address the problem of
objectionable discrimination in hiring is by instituting a hiring quota:
hiring quota (df.): a hiring standard set by an employer when it decides that a certain number
of women or minorities will be hired regardless of the number or qualifications of males or
Caucasians who apply.

[11.2.] The Argument from Merit (Against Preferential Hiring).

The following argument is directed against preferential hiring from among applicants who are not
equally competent. It is a deontological argument, in that it essentially involves the backwardslooking (and thus non-consequentialist) concept of desert:
1. The most qualified candidate deserves the job.
2. To deny a job to the person who deserves it is unjust.
3. Preferential hiring policies result in someone other than the most qualified candidate getting
the job.
4. Therefore, preferential hiring policies are unjust.
DesJardins notes four things that we must consider in order to figure out whether this is a sound
argument (246-47 / 254):
a. [W]e need to decide if in fact such a merit principle [is] a reasonable requirement of
justice. In other words, is premise 2 true?
It might be closer to the truth for some jobs than for others:
i. it seems more plausible for a job that is publicly advertised, with explicit qualifications in
the job ad, rather than for a job that is not so advertised;
ii. it seems more plausible for a job with a publicly-owned corporation rather than a privately
owned company, the owner of which hires his daughter rather than someone who is more
Premise one treats jobs more as social goods that should be distributed on fairness grounds
rather than as the private property of business owners that can be distributed as they see fit.
(247 / 254)
DesJardins concludes: the most qualified candidate has a prima facie legitimate claim to be
hired only for positions for which the qualifications are publicly and previously advertised,
assuming that the qualifications themselves are fair and objective. (247 / 255) Note that even
in this circumstance, the candidate has only a prima facie legitimate claim to the
job, not an absolute claim.
b. [T]he qualifications used to establish merit must themselves be fair and open to all. In other
words, premise 1 is true only if everyone has an equal opportunity to become the most qualified
candidate. The process by which people are educated and trained such that they might be qualified
might itself be unfair and unjust, in which case it would seem that premise 1 should be rejected.
DesJardins asks us to consider some specific job and what might seem to be reasonable
qualifications for it, and then asks: How many of these qualifications have been earned and
how many are a matter of luck or random chance? (247 / 255)
Edwin Hettinger[4] has argued in support of preferential hiring. On his view, a person is not
responsible for all, or even for most, of the factors that make him or her the best candidate for
a job: innate abilities, home environment, socio-economic class of parents, quality of the
schools attended, and luck. Since the applicant is not responsible for these things, and since
these things contributed to his or her being the best qualified, he or she
doesn't deserve anything on the basis of his or her qualifications. [Hettinger is assuming that if

a person P deserves something on the basis of x, then P must be responsible for x, i.e., x
must be the result of a voluntary action performed by P.]
c. There must be some reasonable way to determine and measure qualifications so that we
have a way to decide who is most qualified. Extending this point in a way DesJardins does
not... Even under the assumption that premise 1 is true, it can still sometimes be difficult to tell
who in fact is the most qualified candidate for a job. Further, the managers who are responsible for
making such determinations may, whether consciously or not, discount a persons qualifications
simply because she is a woman, or because he or she is a racial minority. Thus, a defender of
preferential hiring might say that it is a way of helping to ensure that the most qualified
person does get the job despite having been judged not to be the most qualified.
d. [W]e need to consider if diverse ethnic or gender background might itself serve as a job
Might it be legitimate for [a Catholic all-womens college] to give hiring preference to Catholics and
women? Is it legitimate for a medical practice to give preference to female gynecologists? Might a
company seeking to attract new minority business give preference to hiring minority employees? More
generally, given the beneficial opportunities that are provided by a diverse workforce, could a business
claim that gender and ethnic diversity are themselves qualifications in that they make positive
contributions to the workplace? (248 / 256)

If the answer to a given question is yes, then this will count as prima facie evidence that premise
3 of the Argument from Merit is false with regard to the relevant hiring context.

[11.3.] The Argument from Equality (Against Preferential Hiring).

Another deontological argument against preferential hiring is as follows:
1. Hiring policies that discriminate on the basis of traits that are not job-relevant deny
candidates who lack those traits equal treatment and respect.
2. Any policy that denies job candidates equal treatment and respect is unjust.
3. Therefore, hiring policies that discriminate on the basis of traits that are not job-relevant
are unjust.
4. Preferential hiring policies do this, since they discriminate based on sex and race when
those traits are not job relevant.
5. Therefore, preferential hiring policies are unjust.
This is the sort of criticism that motivates the claim that preferential hiring of less qualified women
and minorities is reverse discrimination.

[11.3.1.] Hettinger's Criticism.

Edwin Hettinger has criticized this argument, as follows:
Traditional racism and sexism had motives and consequences that rendered them immoral. But
preferential hiring is different than traditional racism/sexism in two ways: (1) intentions/motives and
(2) consequences.


traditional racism/sexism
based on contempt/loathing for
blacks or on a belief that blacks
and women are inferior

preferential hiring
prevention or compensation (as
described below)


perpetuating stereotypes
makes belonging to the
class of minorities or
women burdensome
adds to the "overabundant
supply" of social goods
(power, wealth, opportunity,
authority, etc.) enjoyed by
one group at the expense of

a more egalitarian
distribution of social goods

[egalitarian (df.): characterized

by human equality, especially
with regard to social, political
and/or economic goods.]

Applied directly to the argument as formulated above, Hettingers position seems to be that what
premise 2 says is in general true, but it is not true of preferential hiring. In effect, he is arguing
that even though preferential hiring does discriminate on the basis of traits that are not jobrelevant, it is nevertheless not an unjust practice, because it has good consequences and the
motives behind it are good.

[11.4.] The Argument from Compensation (in Support of Preferential Hiring).

This is a backward-looking argument. The point is that preferential hiring will help to right past
wrongs and is thus a form of compensatory justice. Thus, like the two anti- preferential hiring
policies weve examined, this is a deontological argument.

Individuals who have been harmed should receive compensation for that harm.
Racial and sexual discrimination in past hiring harmed women and minorities.
So, women and minorities should receive compensation for that harm.
Preferential hiring will help to compensate women and minorities for that harm.
So, preferential hiring is morally permissible.

According to DesJardins, this argument is sound only if three conditions are met (250 / 258):
a. the compensation received as a result of preferential hiring must be proportionate to the harm
caused by past discrimination;
b. the party doing the compensating must be the same party who is responsible for the harm; and
c. the party being compensated must be the same as the party who was harmed.
[11.4.1.] Pojmans Criticism.
A well-known criticism of this argument comes from Louis Pojman.[5]
Here is Pojmans statement of a form of the argument that defends preferential hiring of those less
qualified than others:
White males as innocent beneficiaries of unjust discrimination of blacks and women have no grounds
for complaint when society seeks to rectify the tilted field. White males may be innocent of oppressing
blacks and minorities (and women), but they have unjustly benefited from that oppression or
discrimination. So it is perfectly proper that less qualified women and blacks be hired before them.
The operative principle is: He who knowingly and willingly benefits from a wrong must help
pay for the wrong.[6]

Pojman responds as follows:

Suppose that as a child, you grew up next to young LeBron James.[7] Your parents, envisioning
that you will one day have a passion for basketball and want to be an NBA star, buy an expensive

growth hormone that will cause you to grow an extra 18 inches in height. But before they can give
it to you, LeBrons parents steal it and give it to him.
Years later, LeBron is 18 inches taller than you and an NBA superstar, earning millions of
dollars. You're just an average guy with an average job. LeBron James is an innocent beneficiary
of the unjust actions performed by another, and you are at a disadvantage in life compared to him.
In other words, LeBron has unfairly benefited from, and you are at an unfair disadvantage as a
result of, past wrongdoing.

Pojman makes two claims based on this story:

1. LeBron James owes you nothing. You may be owed reparation by the specific individuals who
wronged you (his parents), and it may be good [supererogatory] of LeBron himself to give you
tickets to his games, or to leave you something in his will, but he is not morally obligated to do
anything like this.
Analogously, those who are currently more qualified as a result of past unfair discrimination
(viz., white males) do not personally owe anything to those who are currently less qualified
as a result of that same discrimination.
2. You are not owed LeBrons job, even if you are minimally qualified for it. Imagine that each
of you are both on the high school basketball team, and each of you can play the same starting
position as well as the team needs you to play it (LeBron, of course, can play it much better than
you, but you can play minimally well). The fact that you would have been as good as LeBron is
now had someone not cheated you as a child does not imply that you deserve to play in his
Analogously, the fact that a member of one group would have been as qualified as others
had they not been cheated (of better housing, health, education, etc.) as children does not
imply that that person deserves a given job more than someone who is better qualified.
Pojman concludes: Sometimes a wrong cannot be compensated, and we just have to make the
best of an imperfect world.[8]

[11.5.] The Argument from Prevention (in Support of Preferential Hiring).

1. Preferential hiring will prevent future unjust distribution of jobs and accompanying social
goods (wealth, authority, power, opportunity, etc.) by (a) correcting for the results of past
discriminatory hiring decisions and (b) preventing future discriminatory hiring decisions.
2. A policy that prevents future unjust distribution of jobs and accompanying social goods is
morally permissible.
3. Therefore, preferential hiring is morally permissible.
This is a forward-looking argument;
particular utilitarian.




is consequentialist,



According to this argument, preferential hiring is justified because it will prevent future objectionable
future unjust distribution of jobs and accompanying social goods (wealth, authority, power,
opportunity, etc.): the goal is to correct an existing imbalance in the distribution of jobs; even if
all discrimination were to end today, women and minorities would still be underrepresented in
some professions because of past discrimination; so they will continue to lack the same amount of
wealth, etc., enjoyed by white males

future discriminatory hiring decisions: the assumption is that hiring decisions will be unfair
without preferential hiring, because (whether or not they are conscious of it) many people who
make those decisions are biased; preferential hiring is meant to correct existing bias and ensure
that the most qualified person gets the job, even though he or she is not judged to be the most
qualified person.


Policies and procedures aimed at conserving the natural resources, preserving

the current state of natural environment and, where possible, reversing its