The information and communication technologies (ICTs) industry is subject to large shares of investments from business sectors to improvise research and innovation. The investments in ICT are responsible for providing appropriate growth in productivity. The public investment in the sector of ICT is also complemented by private sector funding that can be accountable for considering the long term potential of the sector to contribute to national economic development (Cannon & Aytch, 2018).
The progress of the sector is however responsible for creating unpredictable ethical issues which could be observed in examples of data leakages of patient records and customer information from retail sector organizations. The maintenance of electronic patient records is itself considered as a major ethical limitation with the risks for the personal integrity of patients. The consistent updates in the ICT sector lead to the generation of new gadgets thereby leading to sustainability problems.
Therefore it is necessary to review varying incidents that involve ethical issues such as leakage of patient information records. The incident considered for this report is the data breach of patient records in a New York-based Hospital (Cetina, Dumitrescu & Pentescu, 2014). The report would review the incident from the perspective of literature and different dimensions of ethics and sustainability that would help in drawing recommendations that can resolve these issues in the long term.
The event that has been considered for reviewing ethical issues is the data breach at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Centre in New York which led to the misappropriation of medical records in early May. The medical records comprised of significant information such as domestic violence reports, medical diagnosis and patient mental health. The severity of the breach could also be observed in the leakage of information related to home addresses, religious affiliations, names and addiction histories of patients from 2014 to 2017 (Ebrahimi, et al., 2017).
As per Chervenak & McCullough, the primary cause of the event was identified in the Rsync servers that are responsible for transferring and synchronising files across different computer systems involved in a specific organization. The ethical concerns for this incident could be observed from the distinct issues that arise concerning the integration of ICT in an organization (Chervenak & McCullough, 2014). ICT is also responsible for creating ethical problems with specifically detrimental consequences and the problems could be difficult to identify. The source of such incidents is profoundly observed in the difficulties about the anticipation of approaches for utilization of information.
The case depicts a clear clash between ethics and sustainability since electronic patient records have to be updated constantly to access opportunities to improve the care of patients and support services (Ebrahimi, et al., 2016). Therefore the requirement of protocols to accommodate the varying fields of data in the ICT framework could be observed as a notable entity for the healthcare sector. As per Ebrahimi, et al., 201, it is imperative to notice that the leakage of sensitive patient data from the electronic patient records could be observed as an ethical violation of the personal integrity of patients (Ebrahimi, et al., 2017). The most probable recommendation for ensuring ethics and sustainability within the organization could be derived from a comprehensive review of opportunities and risks in the external environment. The storage volumes of data are increasing considerably which increase the complications for management of the ICT systems are observed in the requirement of physical infrastructure that poses environmental threats. Therefore the environmental impact of the systems and evaluation of their efficiency should be reflective of the ethical requirements for the ICT infrastructures in varying industries (Eldred, 2016).
According to Fisher, the classification of data leaks in the ICT framework into two categories can be profoundly observed in the form of good leaks and bad leaks. The good leaks could be observed in the disclosure of information that is directed towards public interest and involves increasing the awareness of the public regarding specific issues without any concerns for harming any individual (Fisher, 2016). The examples of good leaks could be observed in the leakage of information that could help in resolving the majority of problems especially in the context of public interest such as fraud and health risks for individuals alongside the misuse of public money. Bad leaks could be considered as the opposite of good leaks implying the misuse of public information and also involves a violation of the trust of employees, service users, board members and the general public.
The particular implications that can be observed in the case of information security in ICT frameworks could be reviewed from the perspectives of privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility. The aspect of privacy should comprise formidable references to the precedents of classifying personal information and the conditions for divulging them to others (Foord, 2016). Privacy has emerged as the foremost concern among users of ICT systems which should be addressed in the design phase of almost every ICT network implemented in an organization. The significance of information to decision-makers is profoundly observed as a major threat to the privacy of personal information. The accessibility dimension of ethical issues that can be observed in the context of data security breaches in ICT frameworks refers to the categorization of information to which individuals or organizations can access (Franco, et al., 2015).
The accessibility aspect also refers to the concerns of establishing certain conditions and safeguards to prevent unauthorized data access. Property dimension of ethical issues refers to the ownership of the data which is also characterized by precise outlining of the fair prices needed for exchange. The property aspect also refers to the precedents for the allocation of scarce resources. The element of accuracy in the context of ethical issues refers to the appointment of authorities that can be held accountable for the credibility and authenticity of the information (Grace, 2017). Furthermore, it is also essential to observe the accuracy factor as significant as privacy since it would help determine the responsible authority for unprecedented breaches in information storage frameworks.
The review of ethical issues about ICT frameworks could be obtained from a comprehensive review of the existing literature. The distinct ethical issues which could be observed for varying technologies in the domain of ICT such as affective computing, HMS and VR are largely reflective of the impact of privacy. However, the differences between technologies could lead to varying privacy concerns which have to be reviewed to identify potential differences as well as overlapping concerns (Kaufman, et al., 2017).
The rearrangement of distinct ethical issues is responsible for providing opportunities to recognize the issues in ethical security. The ethical issues could also be categorized on the following grounds which refer to contextual issues and ethical theories, social consequences, perceptions of technology, impact on individuals, social consequences and the role of humans. The conceptual clarification about ICT systems and ethical implications associated with them could be derived either through philosophical or scientific terminology. The primary disciplines which have been involved in addressing the concerns of ethics in the ICT sector include sociology and psychology (Lawlor & Morley, 2017). Autonomy can be assumed as a formidable philosophical underpinning that refers to the freedom of will and freedom of action. The updating of information or retrieval of electronic patient records could be accounted as sources of conflict between the freedom of action and the concerns of organizational or personal wellbeing. The meaning of ethics also creates potential ethical issues for the implementation of ICT frameworks in different industries.
The ethical analysis of the situation, in this case, can be profoundly associated with descriptive analysis whose underlying implications refer to the inclusion of non-human entities as responsible or morally obliged aspects. The overview could also involve particular references to acceptance on the grounds of the equivocation as well as the increasing awareness for specific precedents of specific ethical review (McCullough, et al., 2016). The guiding questions that could address the improvement of the concepts and terminology and their difference with the scope of the technology are considered as the basis for resolving ethical conflicts. The theoretical review would also have to comprise references to the multidisciplinary aspects of ethical issues and the perspective from which the ethical issues can be observed in the technology.
Apart from the issues of privacy and accuracy, the ICT systems could depict formidable references to the security, identity, social consequences, autonomy and treatment of individuals. The issues could be associated with a major impact on the effectiveness of an ICT system and its perception in the general environment. Personal autonomy is a crucial setback that must be considered while adopting information and communication technologies that could be addressed through the implications of human self-control which are facilitated by information and communication technology frameworks. Technology is intended to provide an individual with the necessary information required for acquiring control over their environment through awareness about the environment (Paterson, 2016).
The emergence of new technologies in Information and Communication Technology is also responsible for reducing the autonomy of end-users as can be observed in the case of monitoring and controlling the emotions, behaviour, moods, action and thoughts of people. The implications of the shift in control from individuals to technology create a source of support for other factors such as social and market pressure and governmental paternalism leading to the increasing use of information and communication technologies (Riebe, 2013).
Enhancing and infringement of autonomy have been observed in all major emerging technologies and the existing level of impact on autonomy could be observed at higher levels alongside referring to the technological advancements in history, ubiquity and level of agency perceived in major emerging ICTs.
Identity-based issues observed in the context of ICT systems could also imply ethical violations which are realized in the form of identity thefts and misappropriation. The consequences of identity-based issues could be observed as interrelated with privacy and autonomy concerns of the application of ICT systems.
The treatment of humans could also be reformed drastically through the introduction of face recognition artificial intelligence and other emerging information and communication technologies. This factor would have to be considered on the grounds of sustainability as it is responsible for the long term social consequences of the system as well as the requirement of frequent interaction between user and system (Roberts, 2016). The sustainability of existing and potential ICT frameworks is largely dependent on the capability of the systems to address the voluntary or involuntary behaviour of the system and users.
The accessibility issue identified in the earlier section creates potential issues for the sustainability of the ICT frameworks since the frequent data breaches could lead to multiple maintenance and repair investment costs. Therefore the sustainability of the system could be at risk due to the lack of formidable safeguards against data breach threats and the owners of the system could consider the replacement of the system on the grounds of insufficiency (Riebe, 2013). Social consequences identified in the use of ICT are reflective of the aspects of collective human entity and the good life, responsibility, surveillance, cultural disparities, digital divides and ownership, data control and intellectual property. Collective human entity and the good life are perceived as the underpinning value for ethical issues arising in the context of ICT implementation which ascertains the impact of technology on the human culture and integrity.
The confusion regarding the position of an individual in a society could be assumed as one of the major underlying highlights that could impact ethics and sustainability in the domain of ICT. The use of ICT for automated services and facilities would soon be reflective of the depreciation of human control over technology and limited requirement for physical effort (McCullough, et al., 2016). However, the most significant aspect that could be observed in relevance to the ethics and sustainability in the domain of ICT is the emphasis on safeguarding ownership, data control and intellectual property. The frequent innovations noticed in ICT could be reflective of the difficulties about ownership and control precedents for data, intellectual property and software. Therefore the particular issues concerning this intellectual property, data ownership and control precedents could be observed in the examples of lock-in wherein an organization has to be dependent on a standard third party control to access technology (Franco, et al., 2015). The transition in control can be supported by the implications of shifts in power relations. The ethical concerns about data ownership and control can also be considered as viable opportunities to resolve concerns of data security and access privileges.
The report reflected on the case study of a data breach in a hospital in New York that occurred in the early part of May 2017 involving the leak of data of almost 7000 patients. The ethics and sustainability report was characterized by highlights of distinct ethical issues observed in the context of dynamic innovations in the domain of ICT as well as their implications for the sustainability of ICT systems.
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