Apr 17, 2020 in Description
Professional Code of Ethics

The significance of code of professional integrity entails putting in place guidelines that dictate confidentiality, proficiency, and standards of integrity among the experts in a particular field. It may also involve persons working for different organizations who will have a different set of rules that guide their employees. As such, it entails set codes that experts in a particular field will be expected to subscribe to especially while conducting their proficient duties. Besides, they also provide standards on the required principles of morality and the necessary values of a profession in their workplace. The implementation of the professional code of ethics derives several advantages for the organization, the worker, and the industry in which they operate. For example, they have played a key role in developing an all-encompassing vision, and mission. Again, it also ensures proper decision making and also establishes a proficient and successful communication and operations structures.

On the other hand, the industry and individuals working in it become convincing to the public of their professionalism while conducting their business. That increases confidence which an important concept for the development of any industry. Also, it builds on the required trust amongst the different stakeholders. The commitment by members acts as an assurance that the set goals will become achievable and everyone works towards their realization. For example, in Information Technology (IT) industry, security of information has been given utmost attention. Therefore it is expected that the developers of the applied software such as emails and websites will not willingly and unauthorized access a client’s data. As such, IT professionals should only gain access to information necessary in their work to ensure the level of confidentiality remains high at all times. Moreover, that becomes a way of entrenching discipline among professionals while they are conducting their operations.

 
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Nature and Scope of Professional Ethics

In most times, professional ethics also entails a mixture of both corporate and individual rules. That means there will be rules which will guide an expert as a person, and one that will lead the, collectively as an institution or industry. For instance, in the case of IT, there exist rules that directly guide the entire industry, a specific corporation, and an independent expert. However, they may get synchronized into one, particularly at the times when they become considered as basic. For instance, it is commonly expected that IT professionals should ensure the protection of all electronic data from becoming accessible to unauthorized persons. Nevertheless, individually one is expected to adhere to this code for different reasons which may include trust.

Besides that, like in any other sectors the professionals in IT are guided by certain rules based on the nature of their relationships with other fields and customers. For example, they should establish contacts and communication processes with other departments to boost trust and engagement. Sometimes, IT experts have mostly disregarded the input of other professionals and stakeholders considering them to have no idea of technological development. Such was like in the situation of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services (DHS), where their HealthMatch project collapsed leading to waste of time and money due to the communication breakdown between the software developers and the other stakeholders. The project entailed an automated system intended to connect Minnesota residents to state-run health programs founded on eligibility. The project failed due to poor communication and negative attitude amongst the participants. That outlines inefficiencies arising such avoidable instances for the professions.

Additionally, with an aim of enforcing and integrating professional ethics, different fields have regulatory associations whether governmental or private that ensure adherence to the set guidelines. One such agency in the IT sector id the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). ACM has set several codes that have provided the much-needed help in the regulation of the IT industry. The development of software has steeply risen all over the world posing challenges of intellectual property theft. Such was the case between two global technology giants Samsung and Apple Inc. who engaged in a patent fight where the latter accused the former of having violated patent rights for its iPhone’s software. In fact, cases like this have also become frequent among small software firms and companies all over the world. The prevention of such cases requires ACM to provided ethical and professional guidelines requiring that professional programmers patent their work as a way of protecting their development. Besides, it also requires that experts in software creation determine whether or not they have been authorized to make use of a source code. Where such rights appear vague, it becomes advisable that the owner of the source code gets consulted first before its use. Otherwise, unauthorized use of the software or its part may become considered as theft, and thus it would not get registered to the person. Again, it leads to mistrust and could end up in court battles where a lot of money and time could become consumed.

Although the field of ethics has sometimes been interpreted to be same as morals it is broader, and hence different. Ethics mainly concerns itself with a behavioral code through which a person or a company becomes involved. Therefore, it includes all the aspects of molarity in its activities. That will include respect, integrity, concern, and loyalty. In this case, that means paying close attention to anything that gets influenced in the course of the operations of the business. That particularly involves the different participants that will take part in one way or another. For example, in the case of IT, there will be individuals who are clients, vendors, employees, and the general public. It may as well comprise of the relationship between government and regulatory agencies, as well as with other organizations. Interacting with this individuals at different stages will require strict adherence to the code of ethics.

Moreover, professional ethics have also been considered to have a broader scope in comparison to business ethics. While in the latter it only pertains to what happens within a particular organization, with the former it includes all the behavioral activities in an industry and to some extent a group of them. For example, confidentiality and privacy are code of conduct that cuts across of the firms and businesses that are engaged in IT work. As such, professionals operating in them are required to adhere strictly to them. Nevertheless, the organizations are allowed to make such business set of guidelines on their own. Therefore, a professional in such a situation will become headed by both the business and the professional ethics.

On the IT platform, the professional ethics have as well become a key contributor to the procedure applied in the computing processes. That is an indicator that professional code of ethics not only focuses on individuals and corporations, but also on the techniques applied in reaching specific objectives. For instance, the computer coding process in IT has been well outlined to ensure the success and uniformity of products developed in the industry. Otherwise, it would become quite hectic to try and integrate two systems that have been independently developed. Program compatibility plays a critical role in the growth of information technology industry. Failure to observe these rules results to several unwanted outcomes such as mistrust, program failure, and chaos in general for the entire industry.

Case Study: Samsung versus Apple Inc.

Description

The analysis entails a patent lawsuit that were brought against South Korea’s technology giant Samsung Electronics Co. by Apple Inc., an American multinational technology firm. The litigation was one of the many that had ensued between the two corporations relating to the designing of their tablet computers and smartphones. Specifically, it was a patent war where Apple had accused Samsung of infringement. Thus, the case revolved around breaking the code that requires IT professionals to guarantee the originality or permission to use a source code.

Situation

Apple had developed several patents for its 3GS iPhone gadget which it accused Samsung of infringing the patent rights on software in the device. The former used the latter’s i9000 Galaxy S to show the supposed similarities in both the packaging and the icons develop for its applications. Thus, Samsung was accused on the grounds of false designation of originality, trademark and patent infringement, as well as unfair competition. Moreover, the company was also accused of unjust enrichment. The accusations originated from Samsung’s actions which had adopted several coding lines from software developed by Apple Inc. and using it to make improvements on their Nexus S, Galaxy S 4G, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Epic 4G. The use of the application designs by Samsung without prior authorization by Apple Inc. was thus considered to have been in violation of the professional code of ethics.

Task

The evaluation of the case study was to establish the professional codes violated by Samsung and the responsibility that the stakeholders had failed to undertake to prevent such an occurrence. Further, it will as well assess the consequences of such violations on both Samsung, and its accuser Apple Incorporation. At around the period in between 2006 to 2007, the smartphone software development had increased rapidly with most global mobile phone makers engaging in a cutthroat competition to attract customers with their applications. However, such races force competitors to modify their counterparts work for the purpose of putting them at par with what most customers want. In the case of Samsung Electronics Co. the company had used software developed by Apple Inc. to upgrade the design of its apps icons. Nevertheless, when this happened Samsung did not seek prior permission from Apple, neither did the company make recognition of its use of another developer’s work.

The action by Samsung thus violated several ethical codes. First, the IT ethical rules observe that a company or professionals in IT should not portray a software develop another party as their own without getting the rightful owner’s permission. In such a situation, that may become considered as patent theft which in this case Samsung was found to have violated by the United States Supreme Court. Secondly, by engaging in such an activity, the Samsung violated the ethical trust required in its case as an IT firm managed by professionals. Although that lack of confidence may not trickle down to the customers, it will remain an issue among other technology companies who may be wary of having their software copied and used without their authorization. Nevertheless, in some situations, the public may feel obliged to take precaution from companies that engage in an unfair and unethical behavior. That could spell doom for the firm with mistrust preventing the necessary cooperation to development of software technology. The professional code of conduct envisages that all IT professional should not engage in activities that may erode the trust that exists for the industry. As a result, the firm suffered bans on the products said to have used the stolen software as well as a charge.

Actions

In this case, Samsung may get affected by regulations from several countries globally considering that its operations, as well as those of Apple Inc. have gone global. However, in certain ways the actions taken may appear similar in the majority of the countries in the world. For instance, the first action would involve the determination of whether the infringement by the company was direct, indirect, contributory, or induced. In the case of Samsung, it could get categorized as direct as well as contributory infringement. That is considering the firm participated in the act for the purpose of benefiting itself. As such, it will be held liable for its actions. The second step would entail establishing whether the said infringements by the accuser happened, and if Apple Inc. had through its actions contributed to such an outcome. That was necessary so as to ensure the patents belonged to the accuser and had not in any way given rights for them to be used by the accused.

In general, the activities involved in limiting patent theft for IT projects would require developers encoding their signatures on their software, as well as locking them to avoid theft. Again, for the firms that engage in infringement and software theft should have their gadgets using the software withdrawn from the market. Also, they may as well get fined for violating the rules. Besides, the best way to avoid matters of infringement from hitting the company is having the developments made published. That will allow firms to claim the ownership of software before another company can get it from them. Finally, any corporation willing to utilize another developer’s program for the enhancement of their development should always seek permission as a way of ensuring their actions do not get considered as theft.

Results

The outcome of the violation of professional ethics in this case contributed to several disadvantages for the company, which could have otherwise been avoided. One of the biggest loss in the desecration of the code of originality was the financial expense undergone by Samsung. That may include fines and blocking from making sales of the gadgets using the unauthorized software, as well as the litigation costs. Again, it created mistrust amongst the industry players that could tighten information sharing among them, hence slowing down the technological growth for the industry. Also, the actions contributed to public mistrust who may have as well wavered their confidence on the products by Samsung. Although this may not have spread rapidly, in some areas such as in the United States it may have put off some clients.

Conclusion

The analysis above proves the critical importance of the IT professional code of conduct while governing the industry. Although some rules could be set based on an individual expert, others will cover a company or a group of firms and to some extent the entire industry. That is considered necessary to ensure that trust, confidence, and privacy in the operations of the professionals is maintained. Besides, the study has as well revealed that code of ethics has significance in determining the vision and mission of a company as well as their implementation. Despite the fact that there are differences between IT ethics and individual or business ethics, to some extent they overlap collapsing to professional rules which are broader. As such, failure to observe professional guidelines could result into both long-term and short-term challenges for a firm. It could hinder important tasks such as communication and interactions, bringing entire operations of an organization to a standstill. In the field of information technology, it could be worse leading to the release of vital data to unauthorized persons.

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