TC 6 (team): Ethics Presentation
Due April 8, 2019
Little Toy Blue
1 Varsity Drive
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
||All Educational Toy Division Engineers
||Anita Borg, Vice President for Engineering Excellence
||March 25, 2019
As part of our ongoing effort to attain excellence in all aspects of
engineering, the human resources department of Little Toy Blue is
sponsoring a forum on April 8, 2019 to discuss ethics in engineering. At
that forum, each team will present to the class an ethical issue relating
to computer technology. The purpose of this memo is to describe your
Each presentation should:
- describe a computer technology
- describe an ethical issue or societal implication related to that
- describe the categories of people affected by that issue (stakeholders)
and how the issue affects each person
- describe a range of policies or positions one could take on that
- recommend a particular policy or position, and give support for that
Your team will have three minutes to make its presentation, plus another three
minutes for class discussion. Because this is such a small amount of time,
we recommend that one student from the team make the entire presentation.
However, all students on the team should contribute to the development of
the ideas. Presentations will be made without a projector (i.e., no
Below are some suggested topics. Your team may also choose a topic that is
not on the list, as long as the topic is related to computer technology.
- The FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to help them gain
access to an iPhone owned by San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook, but Apple
contested the court order.
- Bitcoins can be used to facilitate money laundering and other illegal activity.
- Until recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required
internet service providers to treat all internet data the same (a policy
called "net neutrality"). Recently, the FCC voted to no longer require
- Censorship and surveillance in China is enabled in part by cooperation
by major search engines. Google decided to take down its site in China
rather than continue participating in this censorship.
- E-mail providers reserve the right to read e-mails under some
circumstances. For example, Microsoft recently read the HotMail account of
a blogger while pursuing an investigation into a leak of confidential software.
- Human-rights advocates and political protesters disseminate
information via social media sites. These sites must formulate policies
about what is acceptable speech and content.
- The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill was intended to reduce
copyright infringement by restricting access to Internet sites that
contain pirated material.
- Data mining techniques can be used to discover sensitive information
(e.g., medical records) about individuals, even from databases that
have been scrubbed of explicit identifiers.
- Personalized news feeds can prevent people from being exposed to viewpoints
different than their own.
- Apple restricts which software can run on iPhones, but it is possible to
"unlock" the device so it can run unsupported software.
- Some mobile device applications help people avoid law-enforcement
activities, such as drunk-driving checkpoints or speedtraps.
- Some mobile device applications help people track the location
of police officers, and this may endanger those officers.
- There is a market for buying and selling discoveries of security
vulnerabilities in popular software.
- Some computer games are addictive or encourage violent behavior.
- It is common for software manufacturers to ship software with
serious, known bugs.
- Loud volumes on iPods can hurt people's hearing.
- Many people don't apply security updates, and their computers are
often compromised and used for criminal activity.
- Facial recognition was used at Super Bowl XXXV to look for criminals.
- Web sites collect and share data about consumer behavior to deliver
- Computer security researchers have discovered ways to break into
electronic voting machines and change the outcome of elections.
- Peer-to-peer file sharing networks are used primarily to pirate
- Peer-to-peer file sharing networks make it difficult to censor
- People surf the web via unsecured wireless networks (wardriving).
- Encryption algorithms may be required to have a "backdoor" that
enables the government to decrypt data.
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM) can be used for digital rights
management (DRM) to identify and restrict which software you run on your
- Legal restrictions (e.g., Child Online Protection Act) and
filtering technologies are alternative solutions for protecting minors
from harmful material on the Internet.