The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics

The field of computer ethics is a new and growing o­ne. Computer ethics is a recent development, closely related to information ethics. The two fields are related like the concepts of theory and practice. The conceptual foundations of computer ethics are investigated by information ethics, while the practical applications of information ethics are carried out by computer ethics. Some common questions addressed by both fields have to do with copyright infringement of software, such as o­nline music and movie piracy. The question is typically put like this: Is it morally wrong to copy software, music and movies? If so, why?

Computer ethics has developed its own version of the Ten Commandments.

Thou shalt not:

1. Use a computer with the intention of harming other people.
2. Interfere with the computer work of others.
3. Look around and snoop in other people's computer files.
4. Use a computer to steal anything whatsoever.
5. Use a computer to bear false witness, in any shape or form.
6. Use a copied or original version of proprietary software for which you have not paid for it yourself.
7. Use other people's computer-based resources without permission or authorization.
8. Appropriate other people's intellectual work for your own use without their knowledge and consent.
9. Create programs without thinking about potential social and personal consequences of those programs.
10. Use a computer in ways that are disrespectful or discourteous towards other people.

These Ten Commandments form a general framework surrounding discussion and dialogue within computer ethics and between computer ethics and other fields of ethics and morality. Computer ethics is based upon the premise of intellectual property; what you create with your mind is yours alone, and no o­ne else has the right to use it without your informed consent. The "free software" movement is in opposition to this school of ethics for the above reason.