Year of Publication

2018

Season of Publication

Fall

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences (MS)

Department

Computing

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Computing

First Advisor

Dr. Judith L. Solano

Second Advisor

Dr. Karthikeyan Umapathy

Third Advisor

Dr. David E. Fenner

Department Chair

Dr. Sherif A. Elfayoumy

College Dean

Dr. William “Chip” Klostermeyer

Abstract

Richard Mason proposed a social framework for addressing the major ethical issues of the information age in his pivotal 1986 article “Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age.” In 2006, Alan Peslak validated the framework by measuring the current attitudes of students, IT professionals, and university faculty and staff toward the four key issues proposed by Mason: privacy, accuracy, property, and accessibility (referred to as PAPA). This study continues this inquiry into the seven-year period after Peslak’s research. Previously collected data was analyzed for 312 university computing majors taking a senior-level ethics course where Mason was taught and discussed. Demographic influences as well as differences over the period were considered. A single exam question administered consistently over the period was the focus. Results indicate, with Mason’s framework as a foundation, computing students can identify all of Mason’s ethical issues, selecting privacy as the most relevant issue of concern in their current environment. Age, gender, and computing work experience resulted in no differences in selection of relevant PAPA factors. All genders, all age groups, and all levels of computing work experience select privacy as the most relevant factor for society today. Privacy increased in importance over the seven-year period as the primary ethical issue for computing students. The ever-changing technology environment and new threats to society posed by these changes is discussed, including social networks, data breaches, consumer privacy, internet neutrality, and emerging technologies.

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