IT Ethics Assignment: Case Analysis Based On ACS Code Of Conduct
Consider the following scenario and then proceed as per the instructions given below, to prepare your report on IT ethics assignment.
The change request Stewart received was simple enough: replace the web site’s rounded rectangle buttons with arrows and adjust the color palette to one that mixes red and green text. But when Steward looked at the prototype, he found it confusing. The left arrow suggested that the web site would go back to a previous page or cancel some action; instead, this arrow replaced the button for accepting the company’s default product. The right arrow, on the other hand, upgraded the user to the more expensive category; it also silently added a protection warranty without asking for confirmation. Stewart suggested to his manager that this confusing design would probably trick users into more expensive options that they didn’t want. The response was that these were the changes requested by the client.
Shortly after the updates were released into their production system, Stewart’s team was invited to a celebration. As a result of these changes, revenues at their client had increased significantly over the previous quarter. At the celebration, Stewart overheard some of the client’s managers discussing the small increase for refunds by users who claimed that they didn’t want the protection plan, but there weren’t many. One manager noted several complaints from visually impaired users, who noted that the mixture of red and green text obscured important disclaimers about the product. “So what you’re saying, then, is that the changes worked as planned,” quipped one of the managers.
Source: Using the Code: Dark UX Patterns, ACM Ethics. The Official Site of the Association for Computing Machinery's Committee on Professional Ethics, 2020.
- Identify the main ethical issue(s) involved in the above case and undertake further research about it/them.
- Analyse the actions of Stewart, his manager and his company, and associated ethical issues from the perspective of the Australian Computer Society Code of Professional Conduct.
- Make a recommendation on the basis of your analysis providing reasons for this recommendation.
Include a Reference list at the end of your work using the correct APA referencing style.
The key purpose of this IT ethics assignment is to identify and evaluate the ethical issues from the standpoint of the Australian Computer Society Code of Professional Conduct involved in the case and accept additional research about it. Convincing and a justifiable Recommendation has been presented based on the analysis of Stewart, his manager, and the company, and the reason for it is provided in the report. The report exhibits the main ethical issues enlightened in a provided case study and explains it from a better perspective.
When a decision or activity carried by a company develops any kind of dispute with the moral principles of society, it refers to as an ethical issue. The main ethical issues involved in the case are presented below:
Unethical Leadership- Employees can have issues with the boss but having to report to an unethical behaving boss is an issue in itself. The unethical behavior of a higher authority can be seen in an obvious form, such as number manipulation in company reports, spending business money in other inappropriate works, skipping the standard process of the company, etc. The case study has shown the abuse of leadership authority by the higher management as they have ignored Stewart's advice to follow the request of change by their clients. (Utexas.edu, 2019) Abuse of power or unethical leadership can extend beyond employees as the higher authority can change any files and get the credit deserved by subordinates for themselves.
A Technology Practices- Like a non-disclosure agreement, the privacy of development in technologies of a company violates the ethical values and creates a concern for its customer. The manager and the company of Stewart are misusing the company technology to trick the customer and increase sales. As per the case study, the company does not follow a culture of responsibility in its technology development sector as they have tricked the customer for the benefit of the company. The data of the company is undoubtedly valuable as it helps to create a marketing strategy, but data regarding its update must be shared with the public for their information.
Unethical decision-making- Many staff people in a company fall victim to unethical decision-making as they do it for more money or to improve their position in the firm (Wa.gov.au, 2013). If the decision made by the higher management is unethical, then they are not only setting an example for other employees but also harming the business's reputation in the long run. An example of an unethical decision is presented in the case study as the company exchanged a simple change requested by a client to a confusing update without the knowledge of Stewart, who received the request.
Analysis from the perspective of ACS Code of Professional Conduct
In the given case study, the actions of Stewart, his manager, and his company have been analyzed from the perspective of the following ethical core values of the Australian Computer Society Code of Professional Conduct.
- The dominance of the public interest: The public interest supersedes over any individual, sectional, or private interests and any divergences should conclude leaning towards the public interest. As far as stakeholders' interests don't conflict with the loyalty and duty that the company owes to the public, the company should safeguard the welfare of its stakeholders. In the case study, private interests are positioned above the public, and the company is tricking the customer into buying expensive products silently, where a protection warranty is also added without confirmation (Australian Computer Society, 2014). The stakeholders who seek the refunds aren’t being attended, and some additional changes requested by them are also neglected. An increase in revenues was seen after tricking the customers, and the company preferred partying over dealing with the customer’s issues.
- Enhancing the quality of life: Following "the enrichment of quality of life," the stakeholder's perception of the tendency to be affected by the work should be understood and evaluated by the professionals. Here in the case study, the owner neglects the problems faced by the stakeholders laying focus on the profits earned by tricking them, furthermore overlooking the feedbacks asking for modifications. Thus the practices of this company are unethical, and the tricks were preplanned, knowing the adversity it would bring to the customers.
- Integrity: The core value of integrity indicates that it is unethical to contravene the conviction of the stakeholders, and scrutinizing integrity and honesty must be fundamental of all important decisions. In this case, the code of honesty is violated knowingly; the owner suggested the confusing design would trick the customer into more expensive options that they aren't willing to buy. An additional protection warranty will be added without seeking confirmation. They planned to trick the customer leading to which the company earned huge profits.
- Proficient development: According to this value, the company must upgrade its knowledge and skills and raise the responsiveness of the issues distressing the affiliation with the public and the profession. In this case, even after being aware of the situations affecting the public relation, the company denies working on resolving. The responsibilities are neglected, and more focus lies on the profit denying upgrade on skills and knowledge that only affects the reputation of the company and its relation with the stakeholders.
- Competence: In accordance with this, the company should only accept to perform such tasks that they are competent to and not hesitate to take any advice from the expertise and be aware of self-limitations. In this case, the company uses fraud methods to rise to their competence level, which violates this code, and the stakeholders' proprietary needs are neither protected nor respected, eventually misleading their skills and knowledge.
Recommendations based on the analysis
Improvement of leadership- The case study has explained the unethical decision-making of managers in the company and the lack of leadership. The leader or the boss of the company must be great at delegation as it is important for a business to accomplish its objective. Better boss delegates effectively as they consider it as their job and takes time to figure the right things to delegate to the right individual at a given time. The high authority must have a vision or vivid picture of their company in the distant future so they can create a strategic plan (Belet, 2016). The leaders have to take responsibility for the new updates and observe it to make them more convincing for the clients or have to change the updates as per the request received to Stewart. The higher management should take a decision to decrease the ethical issues considered by the Australian Computer Society code of Professional Conduct. As per the code, the company must place the public interest first compared to their business and personal interest. The leader has to work attentively and proficiently for the clients and represent their knowledge, skills, and modules with honesty.
Improvement of work ethics- The Company requires creating an ethical code of their own to practice in the organization that will help the employees to work together with the clients. Creating a strong ethical code is essential for the company, as we have seen in the case study how a company without a proper code results in unethical decisions. If the given company had a strong code of practice, they would not have tricked the customers into choosing the expensive option for the company's benefit (Adamson, 2019). Creating a code of conduct is of no use if the workforce of business does not have knowledge about the code. Therefore, the higher authority must conduct a program to train the employees and explain the consequences of not following the ethical code.
Improvement in communication- As per the given case study, it has been found that the overall management does not maintain effective communication that has to lead them toward violating the ethical issues in the workplace as well as the perspective of ACS. A company that works towards improving communication in a workplace alleviates future conflicts and misunderstandings amongst the company members. It is necessary to take feedback from the shareholders as well the members of the company to make performance better, but in this case, no effective communication is seen, which misleads the company towards positioning the private over the public interests (Adu-Oppong, 2014). This affects the overall functioning of the system; taking shortcuts might give abundant profit in a go but can't hold the same position in the long run. In general, for a company to be efficient and effective there must be an improvement in communication which leads to proper analyzing, providing purpose, creation of accountability, and growth of revenues for the long run (Raco, 2019). An environment where there is open, clear, and honest communication leads to a field open for creative ideas that are necessary for innovation; the right office environment increases employees' productivity.
After analyzing the case study, the actions of Steward and the company members in the perspective of the ACS code conclude that they are disobeying ethical laws and neglecting the public interests. The company's main motive is to earn profit no matter the fact that the stakeholders were disapproving of the way the company was selling the products. The instant feedback and queries were forsaken; moreover, the trust and honesty were at stake, misleading the customers to a different page selling expensive products with additional warranty silently; furthermore, when feedback regarding refunds and the problems associated with the websites were received, no necessary steps were taken.
Adamson, F. (2019). Ethics, Integrity and Professional Standards Policy Manual. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, (Chapter 1-12).
Adu-Oppong, A. A. (2014, September). COMMUNICATION IN THE WORKPLACE: GUIDELINES FOR IMPROVING EFFECTIVENESS. G.J.C.M.P.,Vol.3(5):208-213
Australian Computer Society. (2014). ACS Code of Professional Conduct Case Studies Australian Computer Society. (p 1-45)
Belet, D. (2016). Enhancing leadership skills with action learning: a promising way to improve the effectiveness of leadership development. Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, 30(6), 13–15.
Raco, H. (2019). ACS Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct | LawFarm LawFarm (p-1).
Utexas.edu. (2019). Australian Computer Society CODE OF ETHICS (p 1-3).
Wa.gov.au. (2013). Wa.gov.au. parliament.wa.gov.au/publications/tabledpapers.nsf/displaypaper (p 1-24).