The digital revolution has resulted in the ubiquity of digital technologies across several regions worldwide. As such these technologies have impacted different aspects of the society with respect to cultural changes over time. Specifically, the surge in the use of computer-related and Internet applications have sparked ethical concerns such as privacy issues amongst users in diverse platforms. This is ascribed to the concept of information-sharing that is facilitated through digital technologies and the potential loopholes within these systems (Chauvin & Lomazzi, 2017). For this reason, the evaluation of various perspectives on the impact of digital technologies on the society provides an insight into their perceptions of privacy-related ethical issues.Impact of Digital Technologies on the Society The digital era has brought about various effects on the society both in positive and negative dimensions.
Among the most common digital technologies, Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis (2008) contend that computerized devices and the Internet have transformed the lives of people in many different ways. For instance, computers have enhanced people’s banking activities through the innovation of credit cards that allow people to carry out withdrawals and shopping in different stores at their convenience without necessarily having to walk with cash everywhere (Gießmann, 2018). However, it is important to note that these activities are facilitated by computers which store all the information regarding people’s transactions considering that the issuance of these credit cards incorporates the storage of people’s personal details on databases and servers that record all activities done using credit cards.
Hence, one can easily trace a person’s movements and other offline activities besides accessing their crucial personal details by tracking credit cards posing a privacy issue. Additionally, digital cameras have also been embraced by a significant proportion of the global population whereby smartphones are enhanced with the digital camera feature. This enhances people’s experiences through taking high-quality pictures for future memory and sharing with their friends and relatives over social media as well as facilitating video calling activities. Besides, webcam features have been added to computers and laptops for purposes of improving communication among different people.
Also, many institutions and businesses have embraced surveillance of their premises through CCTV digital cameras that trace and record people’s activities around these regions thereby promoting security (Abelson et al., 2008). Despite being advantageous, digital cameras pose privacy concerns amongst several users since they facilitate spying whereby some individuals may use such cameras to track other people’s activities for malicious intentions. This is due to the fact that digital cameras are designed to store vital information about many people in their memory chips. In addition, webcams enable hackers to take user pictures with the aid of sophisticated computer applications, thereby breaching many people’s privacy as they access the Internet with webcam-enabled computers and laptops. Moreover, the Internet is another digital technology that facilitates connectivity of billions of people across different parts of the world.
Abelson et al. (2008) contend that the Internet and internet-enabled devices play an important role in enhancing people’s lives socially, economically, and politically. For example, navigators use watches, ships, and cars that are enhanced with global positioning systems (GPS) which use the Internet to locate exact positions when navigating and moving from one point of the earth to the other. Besides, many websites and computer and mobile applications rely on the Internet to foster information-sharing and communication between many people regardless of their geographical location. Consequently, the Internet promotes connectivity, businesses, and political growth.
Nonetheless, the Internet poses privacy concerns in a variety of ways. For instance, many of these websites such as social media require one to sign up for accounts that store their personal information on certain servers and databases. Other than personal information, these servers can store cookies and IP addresses that provide vital information about the location and online activities of its users over the Internet (Abelson et al., 2008). Hence, this information is important as it provides forensic evidence upon the emergence of online criminal activities. Nevertheless, this information may potentially pose privacy concerns when the security of the servers and databases is breached.
Ethical Issues due to Digital Technologies One of the main ethical issues that arise from the use of digital technologies entails the concept of spying. As noted, digital cameras, credit cards, the Internet and computers store a lot of crucial information on people’s details and an ethical issue may arise when this data is used for the wrong reasons such as tracking a person’s online and offline activities for malicious intentions. Another ethical issue is international terrorism due to the use of digital technologies. In this case, terrorists may use the Internet and social media to radicalize people into terrorism. They may also acquire vital information through hacking servers and databases in order to access the information that may be resourceful in the orchestration of terrorism.Spying as an Ethical Issue Owing to the evidence that computers and the Internet store in databases and servers, spying is inevitable as the handlers of the data are in a position to track activities of different people in various parts of the world. As discussed, this information may be shared with or accessed by third parties thus posing ethical concerns regarding the privacy of people whose information is stored in such databases and servers.
For instance, the recent Facebook scandal revealed that the company’s security feature was compromised allowing a third party to access several people’s information. This is an ethical issue that results in great concern over people’s online privacy. Forensic activities also heavily depend on data and information stored in servers and computers. On this note, criminal activities on the online platform can be tracked using digital technologies such as cookies and IP addresses among other tools and this poses ethical concerns as the forensic investigators may use such privilege to spy on other people such as their personal foes (Hassan & Hijazi, 2017). Besides, one can access such information and alter the evidence thus compromising the justice systems due to the presentation of falser evidence. In this way, online privacy poses ethical dilemmas.
Analysis from Different PerspectivesThe Utilitarian Perspective The ethical theory of utilitarianism asserts that the best action amongst various alternatives is one that maximizes the utility which denotes the satisfaction and wellness of most individuals in the setting. Quinn (2017) argues that the utilitarian perspective of an ethical situation should be judged and considered according to its significance to the society at large. Therefore, spying is ethically wrong considering that it interferes with the privacy of many people who are registered users of the various online websites. For example, one can take private pictures of another person in a bid to blackmail him or her over social media and this action is ethically wrong. However, when done for forensic reasons, spying is ethically right since it facilitates the alleviation of future potential danger that may be carried out by criminal activities which affect a large number of people (Quinn, 2017). Nevertheless, spying for selfish reasons is ethically wrong according to the utilitarian analysis.The Virtue Ethics Perspective Virtue ethics can be described as moral and intellectual according to Quinn (2017).
Whereas moral virtues are associated with an individual’s character, intellectual virtues are ascribed to the concepts of truth and reasoning. With regards to spying, it is morally and intellectually wrong as such action violates the privacy of an individual considering that a third party unlawfully and deliberately accesses one’s information without consent for dangerous reasons. For example, hacking a server in order to gain credit card information for purposes of stealing people’s financial resources through facilitating automatic bank transfers is morally and intellectually wrong. As a result, the virtue ethics perspective indicates that spying is ethically wrong.Conclusion Digital technologies have impacted both positively and negatively on the society due to the merits and demerits that it poses on people’s lives. Among the digital technologies discussed, computers, computerized devices, and the Internet have facilitated cultural changes in the society regarding how people communicate and share information through digital platforms.
As such, the information stored in such platforms facilitates ethical challenges due to the breaching of the privacy of several users by individuals with malicious intentions. International terrorism and spying have been identified as the common ethical issues arising from the use of digital technologies in the society. Specifically, access of crucial information by third parties and professionals such as forensic investigators may result in spying activities which bring about ethical dilemmas. As noted, the utilitarian and virtues analyses of the ethical concern of spying illustrate that spying is an immoral activity especially when carried out for malicious purposes. For this reason, operators and administrators of different websites need to formulate and adopt stringent measures that curb hacking activities by that may enable third parties to access important information.
Besides, forensic investigators should be enlightened on the importance of upholding moral values when conducting their duties. Additionally, governments should develop policies that regulate online privacy and execute them to protect the privacy of their citizens across all platforms. These measures are potentially effective as they may alleviate ethical concerns due to online privacy.