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1.1 Diane the Consultant
Three years ago Diane started her own consulting business. She has been so successful that she now has several people working for her and many clients. Their consulting work included advising on how to set up corporate intranets, designing database management systems, and advising about security.
Presently she is designing a database management system for the personnel office of a medium-sized company. Diane has involved the client in the design process, informing the CEO, the director of computing, and the director of personnel about the progress of the system. It is now time to make decisions about the kind and degree of security to build into the system. Diane has described several options to the client. Because the system is going to cost more than they planned, the client has decided to opt for a less secure system. She believes the information they will be storing is highly sensitive. It will include performance evaluations, medical records for filing insurance claims, salaries, and so forth. With weak security, employees working on client machines may be able to devise ways to access this data. It also creates the possibility of on-line access from hackers. Diane feels strongly that the system should be more secure. She has tried several times to explain the risks and justify the expense, but the CEO, director of computing and director of personnel all agree that less security will be sufficient. What should she do? Should she refuse to build the system as they request?
1.2 Max in the State Government Department
Max works in a state government department that administers remedial programs for alcoholism and drug abuse. It maintains a large database of information on the clients who use their services. Some of the data files contain the names and addresses of clients.
Max has been asked to take a look at the track records of the treatment programs. Higher management want performance data to help decide what programs to keep, what to improve and what to discontinue. Max is to put together a report that contains the number of clients seen in each program each month for the past five years, length of each client’s treatment, number of clients who return after completion of a program, criminal histories of clients, and so on. In order to put together this report, Max has been given access to all files in the agency’s mainframe computer. After assembling the data into a file that includes the clients’ names, he downloads it to the computer in his office.
Under pressure to get the report finished by the deadline, Max decides he will have to work at home over the weekend in order to finish on time. He copies the data onto a USB memory stick and takes it home. After finishing the report he leaves the USB stick at home and forgets about it.
1.4 The HCI consultant
Consider an HCI consultant with extensive experience in evaluating web sites and graphical user interfaces (GUI). She has entered into an evaluation contract for a new accounting product made by Company A, mainly on the strength of her prior experience with e-commerce site evaluation. The work involves assessing the training requirements and the usability of the system. During the initial configuration of her usability laboratory she becomes aware that that software she is to evaluate contains a GUI already patented by a rival Company B, which she evaluated several weeks before.
Under the terms of her current contract, she is not allowed to discuss anything with anyone outside of the contract arrangements. She therefore not permitted to speak to Company B about the possible patent infringement.
She has a similar obligation to Company A. Can she continue with the evaluation? If she cannot continue with the evaluation how does she inform Company A of the patent infringement? Does she have an obligation to let company B know Company A has copied their GUI?
2.1 The New Tax Laws
A software development company has just produced a suite that incorporates the new tax laws and calculates tax for both individuals and small businesses. The president of the company knows that the program has a number of bugs. He also believes the first company to put this kind of software on the market is likely to capture the largest market share. The company widely advertises the program.
When a customer downloads an installation of the product, the company includes a disclaimer of responsibility for errors resulting from the use of the program. This is buried deep in the Terms & Conditions that the customer must agree to if they to proceed with the installation.
The company expects it will receive a number of complaints, queries, and suggestions for modification. The company plans to use these to make changes and eventually issue updated, improved, and debugged versions. The president argues that this is common practice in the IT industry and that people who buy version 1.0 of a program can reasonably be expected to know this and take proper precautions. Because of bugs however, a number of users filed incorrect tax returns and were penalised by the ATO.
2.2 The Inventory Control System
A small software company is working on an integrated inventory control system for a large shoe manufacturer whose products sell nationally. The system will collect sales data daily from retail outlets nationwide. This quantitative information will be used by the accounting, shipping, and ordering departments. It will have primary impact on how the shoe manufacturer runs its own business.
The inventory functions are critical to the smooth operation of the system. Jane, a quality assurance engineer with the software developer, suspects that the inventory functions of the system are not sufficiently tested, although they have passed all their contracted tests. She is pressured by her employers to sign off on the software. Legally she is only required to perform those tests which have been agreed to in the original contract. However, her considerable experience in software testing has led her to be concerned over the potential risks of the system. Her bosses say that they will go out of business if they do not deliver the software on time, so punitive are the contract terms for late delivery. Jane replies that if the Inventory sub-system fails, it will significantly harm their client and its employees. If the potential failure were to threaten lives, it would be clear to Jane that she should refuse to sign off. But since the degree of threatened harm is not safety critical, Jane has a difficult decision.
2.3 The Traffic Control System
A software consultant is negotiating a contract with a medium sized regional town to design and implement a traffic control system to make the flow of traffic more efficient in peak hours. He recommends they select a particular system out of several available systems on the market. The consultant fails to mention that he is a major stockholder of the company producing recommended system.
2.4 The Employment System
In determining requirements for an information system to be used in an employment agency, the client explains that, when displaying applicants whose qualifications appear to match those required for a particular job, the names of applicants who are Australian citizens are to be displayed ahead of non-citizen applicants on the output list. Moreover, the names of married male applicants are to be displayed ahead of female applicants.
2.5 Joe gets some extra time
Joe is working on a project for his computer science course. The instructor has allotted a fixed amount of computer time for this project. Joe has run out of time, but has not yet finished the project. The instructor cannot be reached. Last year Joe worked as a student programmer for the campus computer centre and is quite familiar with procedures to increase time allocations to accounts. Using what he learned last year, he is able to access the master account. Then he gives himself additional time and finishes his project.
Don’t’ forget the 1000 word component of this assignment that describes how your ethical standards and ability to solve ethical dilemmas has changed over the semester. No prescribed format for this, simply discuss what you have learned, what capabilities you now have that you did not have before, how this might help you in the future, plus any other noteworthy points you can mention.
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