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Obscenity and Computer Ethics


The following thesis has been written considering obscenity and ethics in the computer world. With the unprecedented growth in the use of the internet there has been a problem in its usage which has sometimes led to obscenity and need for computer ethics. Computer ethics became a necessity since the conventional principles of conduct could not be applied on the internet and computer usage. This article is aimed at addressing the issues related with obscenity and computer ethics and argues that both are equally important. Ethical concerns and obscenity issues have become a major concern since we use the computer at every walk of our life. Right from our medical records to our bills and payments and even the country’s defense system is based on computers. Unchecked violations in computer ethics and obscenity issues can lead to serious consequences both on our personal and national level.

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Issue under consideration ─ Obscenity and Computer Ethics

The issue being considered in this thesis is regarding obscenity and computer ethics. Classically ethics refers to those principles and standards which govern an individual’s conduct. But as computers and technology has become a part of our daily life, they have provided us with a continued problem with difficult questions about our judgment. Thus, after the World Wide Web was introduced the meaning of ethics also changed and the term computer ethics evolved. Computer ethics refers to those rules of conduct which concerns computers and refers to the manners through which traditional ethics and customs are negotiated, tested, stretched, applied and sometimes even broken in the world of computers. Computer ethics became a necessity because the Internet and World Wide Web had produced a number of new and unexampled legal issues and questions which the older laws had no answers to. Thus the computer world needed more logical laws for governing the computers and the Internet since the earlier laws had become obsolete here. Computers and the internet were single handedly responsible for radically enhancing communication and manipulation of data raising numerous controversies and questions regarding ethics. (Bennington, 87-103)

Although technology has leaped ahead of time, morality needs to catch up to it since without the understanding of computer ethics people will not be properly ready to handle the world of our online societies. Every individual, irrespective of which field or career he or she belongs to will have to enter into this world either for work or to socialize, and at that point will be faced with ethical problems. Computer ethics helped the users in analyzing the total impact and the overall nature of computer and technology and justified the formulation of rules and policies so that technology and computers were used ethically. (Chatzidakis and Mitussis, 305-320)

Computer ethics have also become a necessity due to millions of computer crimes that take place daily in the form of malware attacks, copyright infringement, illegal distribution and identity theft. Hackers and attackers have been illegally using the computer as a medium for committing crimes making cyber crime one of the gravest challenges for the police authorities and prosecutors. Sometimes certain legal computer activities also pose ethical concerns, like the invasion of an individual’s privacy when their computer activities and communications are monitored by others. The unlimited amount of data available through the Internet has increased the concern of businesses and individuals regarding computer ethics. It becomes very difficult for one not to take advantage of simple data manipulations through information technology and use it at the cost of others for their own good. But this creates the so talked about ethical concerns. With the increased competition among individuals and organizations certain strategies need to be developed so that technological innovations can be completely utilized but at the same time the boundaries of tolerable ethical considerations are maintained so that the system maintains its stability and the users benefit from it. (Bennington, 87-103)

The issue of obscenity comes into play when discussing the Internet or the World Wide Web because there is a lot of matter available through them which can be fairly categorized as obscene or inappropriate. The Internet provided people with a whole new media presenting them with so much information which one had never dreamt of. People were not only able to access a wide rage of information but were also able to communicate with each other all over the world within seconds. But some of this information was obscene and inappropriate too and those people who could never access such information or would not have done so, was easily able to assess it. Children too could access these obscene matters since the internet does not have any age barriers. Children, who did not understand what ethics were able to access obscene matters like pornography, join hate groups and even get information on building bombs all through the Internet. Although, the internet has proved to be a powerful tool for some, to other its cons have outweighed the pros. (Chatzidakis and Mitussis, 305-320)

With the growth of the internet we have also witnessed the growth in computer crimes which often involve the availability of obscene pictures on the Internet. Children are often found to be allured into sex or pornography by pedophiles through the Internet. Obscenity on the computer or the Internet presents us with the same legal problems which we face with obscenity in magazines or books. Obscenity, although extremely serious, sometimes does not seem to be as pressing as the various other criminal activities that take place on the Internet. Precise and reliable statistics have not yet been drawn regarding the quantity of computer crimes that take place and the number of victims that have been lost to it. Obscenity is a grave issue as it leads to silent crimes which cannot be easily detected either by the law enforcers or the victims and is thus, very little reported to the proper authorities. Computer technology and the internet have brought about a number of uncertainties due to which the establishment of clear ethical and behavioral codes has become a difficult task. Computer technology is being dramatically abused as company sites are being hacked and thefts are taking place online. (Bennington, 87-103)

One way to tackle the problem of obscenity is by censoring the inappropriate matter. But censoring does not help since something that is obscene to one may not be so to another. The basic problem with obscenity is that the idea of deeming something to be obscene or inappropriate changes with age, it is sometimes dependent on one’s religion and is sometimes considered with a specific social condition. Thus, at times enforcement of immediate rules and regulations of moral values against obscenity are not always possible.

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The only thing that could have done differently after critically analyzing this paper is that it could have concentrated a little more on the concerns regarding our present computer ethics, which include censorship, copyright and privacy. These topics are equally important considering the aims of my thesis and thus needs to be elaborately discussed. Another issue which I should have discussed is that of domain names which also falls under computer ethics. (Chatzidakis and Mitussis, 305-320)


From this article we learn that although computers and the Internet have provided us with a vast resource of information and technological potentials, they have also brought up concerns about ethics and cases of obscenity. Presently we have very few rules and regulations which can govern an individual’s ethical behaviors or obscenity on the internet. After reading this article one will come to know about the issues of obscenity and computer ethics facing our world today. I hope that the readers understand how important computer ethics are for our world today. Parents need to be especially alert so that their children can be kept away from obscene matter on the internet and thus they need to realize what a huge issue obscenity on the computer can be. Through this article I want the readers to understand what computer ethics means and the ill effects of obscenity both on the computer and on the internet. They need to understand and realize these issues so that they can protect their families from any related issues and keep their children safe from online obscenities. After writing this article I have realized how harmful obscenity on the internet can be and why we need to have computer ethics.

Works Cited

Bennington, Tammy. “Ethical implications of computer-mediated evaluation”. New Directions for Evaluation 56.84 (2008): 87-103.

Chatzidakis, Andreas and Mitussis, Darryn. “Computer ethics and consumer ethics: the impact of the internet on consumers’ ethical decision-making process”. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 6.5 (2007): 305-320.

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