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Internet filtering has existed in the technological sphere for a long time. It has been of assistance to people, organisations and countries in keeping away information that they do not want others to access. Parents use filtering programs to screen information from the internet that their children access. Companies use filtering programs to keep away vital information, making it inaccessible to some of its employees and customers. Various groups and individuals do this in securing information not fit for consumption by some category of people.
A foreign government has approached my company to help them develop a custom version of a filtering program. It is to be effected on the country's internet connection to the rest of the globe. The specific function of the custom program is to avail, selectively, information that a government wants its citizenry to have the right to use. This paper gives an argument in favour and against accepting the offer. It explores the ethical principles concerning acceptance of the proposal among other considerable factors.
Internet filtering encompasses several concerns. Many countries filter a wide range of political, social, economic and national security content. At the same time, they do not publish exact lists of the content they have filtered. In the same manner, countries and states that wish to control access of the internet to their citizens make efforts to block certain proxies, sites, and websites that give instructions and tools to help people unblock set filters (Victoria and Rideout, 2002).
In spite of the guarantee of free right of entry to information stated in article nineteen of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights worldwide, the number of countries that involve themselves in internet filtering has increased considerably over the past years. However, as internet filtering expands throughout the world, access to the blocking tools that developed and publicized by programmers and volunteers continue becoming known.
Accepting to service the contract of a foreign country has its advantages as well as disadvantages. The internet acts as a cyber world that is both advantageous and detrimental. It all depends with internet usage monitoring. Internet filtering programs are developed to help monitor contents that administrators consider unfit. In this case, the foreign government is the administrator and wants to control and monitor the things its citizens look at and for, in the internet. Therefore, accepting to develop a custom filtering program for the foreign government is justifiable.
In developing a custom filtering program for the foreign country, the company will be doing business. In doing so, my company will not break any law, whatsoever. Therefore, I can accept to take and offer the contract to the foreign country. Any business entity is free to offer business to customers regardless of where they originate. Therefore, the contract would be acceptable to the company because it is a development in the telecommunications industry
The foreign government has indicated the purpose it intends to use the internet filtering for, which is to block information that its citizens should not get. Therefore, as a company the duty is to do business as long as the filtering program is for utilizing for the right purpose.
However, accepting the contract may be detrimental to the company. The foreign government may use the custom program against my company, in case a problem arises. By accepting to offer the contract, the company may be collaborating with the foreign government, to block vital information that its citizens should have access. Therefore, in case the citizens decide to sue their government, my company may be involved. This will be a set back to my companies business. The company may end up paying fine and risk getting out of business. The foreign company may, carelessly, use the custom program. This may help competitor companies get access to my company's filter program, and use it to their advantage. This will cost my company a lot of investment.
There are some concerns when it comes to the ethics behind accepting the contract. First, accepting to offer the custom program for filtering internet information to the foreign country is not ethically wrong to some extent. This is approachable in different ways. It is not ethically wrong since my country will be helping the foreign country. This is to manage and monitor the information its citizens may have access. For example, information about national security and intelligence that must be secured by the government against malicious agents will be secured. This will ensure that the citizens get enough security and that their country is not threatened because of the leak of vital security information. Secondly, the program will help the government protect its citizens from internet fraud, theft and harassment. This will be enabled when the government uses the program to filter sites that may result to any of those issues. The company will be helping the government to filter the internet information that may be harmful to children (Baase, 2000).
Besides this, accepting the contract does not violate any law. It will be a business just like any other. The contract does not attract corruption, favouritism or any other vice. Therefore, it is not morally wrong.
The internet is a vital and essential part of people's lives today. However, it carries with it some negative aspects. Intent filtering helps to protect children and adults from harmful information and content. However, when the filtering programs filter too much information that people should access it becomes inappropriate. Instances such as this do not put responsibility on filtering program developers. The administration should accept the blame. Therefore, it is not ethically wrong to accept the contract.
The duty of my company is to offer the custom program to the foreign company. The use of the program is the government's duty and concern. Therefore, it is not morally wrong for the company to accept the contract, for that matter. If the company insists on knowing the purpose the foreign government will use the custom program for, the government may decide to lie. In addition, the company does not have any right, obligation or way of confirming the purpose of the use of the program in the foreign company. Therefore, ethical consideration does not limit the company from accepting the contract.
I would accept the contract for various reasons. First, internet-filtering programs exist despite the positive and negative purposes they are used. It is not the responsibility of the developers of the filtering programs to control their usage. The buyers should be responsible for usage of filtering programs. Therefore, I will accept the contract as a developer, but not the person or company who should be responsible for internet filtering program usage.
Secondly, the company I run develops and markets filtering programs that help parents filter materials that they do not wish their children to access. This means that the company is in business competing with similar companies to make money in terms of profits. This contract is a boost to my company. Therefore, accepting the contract ensures that the company grows in terms of the business that it does. In fact, the company may grow to become an international company getting a boost from this contract. Because of this, I will accept the contract.
My decision to accept the contract will not be determined by the information that will be filtered. This is because it is not always that companies use filtering programs for purposes they give when purchasing the filtering program. Buyers change their intentions and use the filtering programs to filter information that they did not intent when they purchase the filtering program. Therefore, considering the information that is to be filtered is a waste of time.
Accepting the contract from the foreign government exposes the program to risk. The competitor of the company may get access to this. This may be made possible by inevitable anti-free-speech usage. This will be beyond my control. This means that the program may be used in ways different compared to my original intention. However, I will not take responsibility for other purposes that other people or companies may use the program. Given that I am the developer of the program, my responsibility is to ensure that the program is fit for use, and it can serve its purpose without any problem. Despite this, once the program is sold, the usage gets out of my responsibility. It is the responsibility of the buyer to use it properly. Therefore, in case the program is used badly of for other purposes that may be relevant or ill informed. The owner should take responsibility (Deibert, 2008).
The fact that the custom program may be used for other purposes different from the original purposes, or get into the wrong hands is realistic. I could have foreseen this event happening. This is for the same reason that filtering program usage and responsibility does not lie on the developer. In most cases, the user becomes responsible for usage.
This should not have affected my decision to develop the techniques and software. This is because the program is a custom program. This means it does not carry every feature contained in the original program. Besides this, the foreign company had indicated earlier that the purpose of the custom program is different from the original purpose. My company uses the program to help parents filter information they do not want their children to access. However, the foreign government intends to use the program to filter information that it does not want its citizenry to access. This could be intended for children as well as adults. It could also include information that ranges from national security information, terrorism information, communications, disease or information about pornography. Therefore, the purpose that the program will do does not influence my decision to accept the contract.
Technology has gone a long way in helping people in the world in so many ways. Technology has helped make work easier for almost all people rather than cause harm. This is especially the case with people who can access the internet. Communications, business, industries and education among other sectors have received the meritorious that technology offers. However, technology will always be used for negative purposes. Some people use technology to their advantage but in the long run cause suffering to other people.
Each technological advance is likely to have unintended side effects. It is real that when developers come up with technology, most of the time, they intend to use them for legitimate reasons. However, consumers of the technology derive their own purposes that are either good or ill intended. This is coupled by the fact that people are creative and innovative. Therefore, there is no way a development will have positive effects only. The example given in the paper on how the foreign government may use the filtering program for other purposes confirms this notion. In addition to this, the filtering program may get into the wrong hands. This illustrates how technology can be used for negative purposes (Robert and Scharff, 2003).
The foreign government may decide to use the custom filtering program to block information that is essential to its citizenry. This will be ethically wrong and illustrate the negative use of technology. It may also decide to use the program to deny its citizenry the right to communication. This will be against the rule of law and is unacceptable.
Some of the negative side effects are inevitable because of lack of resources to curb them. Some of the side effects are predictable but cannot be restrained. This is especially once control has gotten out of the developers responsibility. This is made possible by the fact that technological systems are complex, and people invent new applications every day. The side effects are unacceptable ethically, economically and aesthetically and cause conflict between groups of people and society as a whole.
Control of internet communication and content is appropriate because it helps protect people from malicious people who use the internet to obtain things from people. However, when this is used to deny people their rights then it becomes wrong.
The internet is vital to everybody. However, it contains harmful information and content that needs to be controlled from reaching children and sometimes adults. In this case, internet-filtering programs come in handy. Internet filtering programs help to block harmful and malicious content in the internet from reaching hitherto non-targeted people. However, there are instances where internet filters are used for the wrong purposes. When this happens, it is extremely difficult to control the ill usage of internet filtering programs. Therefore, the society has to live with what exists right now.