Last year, major tech players Facebook and Google faced ethical crises because they disregarded the private information of their users. This resulted in their being grilled by the Senate. Similarly, the public was outraged that Amazon licensing biased facial recognition software to ICE and police departments around the country. Who exactly is to blame – and at what point? How can the public trust that the tech companies will keep their information safe?
Tech analyst Gartner believes that digital ethics and privacy is one of the top trends in technology for 2019. Tech companies need to take into consideration how their software development affects user privacy. Even more importantly, they need to be conscious of how their decisions can disrupt society, à la Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on the Facebook privacy breaches. Surprisingly, it’s the tech company employees themselves who are proactively taking steps to come up with ethics policies.
Google employees have asked for a company policy that says they wouldn’t use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to develop weapons or technologies whose main purpose is to hurt people. They’re concerned that some technology used in government contracts could be used to violate basic human rights. For example, they were up in arms about Google’s planned expansion into China. The employees, in an open letter to management, demanded that a censored search engine named “Dragonfly” be removed, because the Chinese government could use it to boost surveillance, violating the rights of the country’s citizens, by blacklisting search queries on banned topics such as human rights and democracy, Tibetan independence and the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising.
These concerns are all legitimate, given the global power of the internet to transmit information. Gartner predicts that through 2023, more than half of the CEOs of the top digital businesses will openly discuss the impact of technology on society, and that all digital tech firms will wield impact. A company’s digital social contract that explores the relationship of how people and things relate to each other in society – based on the core concepts of connections, contributions and community – could help, and ultimately add value to them.
In the meantime, there are some ways digital companies can develop ethical technology:
- Educate designers and engineers to get them to think of the impacts of their codes.
- Understand that the users are not at fault. Technology itself is controlling their behavior to some extent. For example, people are finding that smartphones are addictive. To help, Amazon and Google now offer features that claim to help users’ digital well-being: screen time monitors, methods for limiting notifications and timers to regulate how long users stay on apps. All of this is designed to help people “digitally detox.”
- Embrace transparency and ensure that users know what they’re agreeing to when they use a product or service. Be clear in informing users about who gets their data and how it is to be used.
- Read the news and stay up to date on current affairs to learn about how technology can impact global concerns.
The big takeaway is that if tech companies “think before they act” and are aware of how their products impact users and society in general – sort of an internal code of ethics – it may make a difference. In addition, if end-users take precautions by employing network security to monitor unauthorized access, exploitation, and modifications of their networking assets, they can increase protection.
New vulnerabilities to our technology are coming about every day, and the need for IT security specialists is growing. Campus, formerly known as MTI College, offers a fast-paced, hands-on Network Administration and Security associate degree program that prepares you for an entry-level position as a networking professional. Computer networking is critical to large companies and industries, such as health care and banking, that rely on secure, shared databases. Completing your associate degree in Network Administration and Security, and earning CompTIA Network+ and Security+ certification may open the door to an exciting career.
Get the skills and certification you need from Campus to do your part in protecting our internet security.