Ethics in ICT: If they exist, the ACS will find them

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the ACS Foundation have teamed up with the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Centre of Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) to fund a AU$900,00 research program assessing ethics and regulation in the ICT industry.The study is the first planned analysis of how a work environment influences ethical behaviour within the ICT sector.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the ACS Foundation have teamed up with the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Centre of Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) to fund a AU$900,00 research program assessing ethics and regulation in the ICT industry.

The study is the first planned analysis of how a work environment influences ethical behaviour within the ICT sector. Privacy, autonomy and enforcement issues are just some of the topics that will be on the radar during the three-year study.

According to a statement from the parties, the primary outcome of the study is the creation of a practical and professional ethical and regulatory model that could become a quality standard across the industry both in Australia and overseas.

Other potential outcomes of the program include a comprehensive review of the existing legislation, corporate regulations and codes of conduct for the industry; assessment of the role of professional societies such as the ACS in respect to internal disciplinary measures; guidelines for developing ICT systems with ethical and social considerations inbuilt; and a blueprint for the creation of ethical impact statements.

The program will also be assessing the ACS Code of Ethics and whether it needs to change from its current software engineering focus to be more broadly representative of the wider interests in the ICT sector.

Charles Sturt University will administer the three year study titled "Ethics and Regulation in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Industry."

ACS Foundation executive director, John Ridge said the project is "a huge milestone that Australia is taking this forward".

"As ICT continues to gathers pace as an industry, the impact of technology is now so far reaching we can't afford to ignore its social and ethical influence -- particularly in the privacy sphere," he said.

Ridge added that the ACS is hoping the project will lead to "real, pragmatic systems that prevent corruption from occurring within the workplace".

Once the research has been completed, ICT practitioners will be able to access the research via policy papers online.

John Ridge has recently been appointed as executive director of the ACS Foundation. Previously the chairman of the ACS Foundation and a past president of the ACS, Ridge's move to a fulltime executive position follows a decision by former executive director, Peter Rose, to stand down from his position for family health reasons.

The board's deputy chair, John Debrincat, has agreed to fill the role of chairman until the next board meeting. Rose will continue a part-time involvement with the foundation to ensure a smooth transition.

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