Assignment 1

30 marks, 15% of final grade

Due in class: February 9, 2009


Late policy: 10% off per day (-3 marks).

Assignments more than 4 days late will not be accepted and will receive a mark of 0.


You must hand in a hard-copy directly to the TA or Professor.

Send an electronic copy as well, if you are late and not able to hand the assignment in during class.

Leanne Seaward, 5th floor site Mailbox: 125, lspra072@uottawa.ca

Liam Peyton: SITE 5-074, lpeyton@site.uottawa.ca


A)     Writing  - 10 marks, 2 marks for each of the following:

·         Spelling

·         Grammar

·         Clarity of writing

·         Efficiency of writing

·         Elegance / Effectiveness of writing


B)      Content – 20 marks

All answers must be in full sentence, essay form, with a clear structure, and sound reasoning from facts and principles.


1.       3 marks

Is  the CIPS code of ethics based on a)Deontological Principles, b)Utilitarianism, c)Natural Rights or some combination of all three?  Explain your reasoning, pointing out for each of a), b), c) whether or not some part of the CIPS code draws on it.


2.       2 marks

Is the primary purpose of the CIPS code of ethics to

a)      Assist computer scientists and information professionals  in making ethical decisions in their lives.

b)      Protecting the reputation and integrity of the profession it represents (including controlling the membership of CIPS)

c)       Ensuring that the public interest is protected and promoted when receiving services from computer scientists and information professionals.

Choose only one of a, b, and c.  Explain your reasoning based on ethical principles and an example.


3.       3 marks

Choose a minimum of 3 principles that you will take as your own personal code of ethics that will guide you as an information professional.  For each principle, provide a reference or source for that principle and a brief explanation of why you think it is important.  The source or reference must be something OTHER than the CIPS code of ethics.

Consider this situation:

A group of your friends is working on a month-long school project and decide to use a file sharing program to automatically keep their common files in synch.  One week before the deadline for the project, you discover that this file sharing program actually links you in to a global peer to peer network where copyrighted songs and movies are downloaded and shared illegally.  You are not sure, but you suspect that your computer is being used by the program to store and transfer information that enables others to access the illegal content.


4.       2 marks

Is your use of the file sharing program a violation of your personal ethics?  Explain your ethical reasoning.


5.       2 marks

Assume, for the sake of argument that such use was unethical.  What action should you take? Do you uninstall the program from your computer and delete all files associated with it, even though this is very disruptive to the project?  Or do you wait until the project is successfully completed before removing the program.  Explain.


6.       2 marks

Assume that the penalty for possessing copyrighted material is a misdemeanour offense with a small fine, the penalty for possessing child pornography is a felony offense with jail time, and the penalty for possessing terrorist-related material a matter of national security where you could be held without trial or explanation for years.

What impact, if any, would it have on your reasoning in 4 and 5 above, if you knew the illegal content was potentially a) child pornography, or b) terrorist-related.  Explain your reasoning for each of a) and b) for both of 4 and 5.


7.        What if the situation were not a group of friends, but a group of fellow employees working for a company, and the customer for the project was the Department of National Defence? 


a.        3 marks

Would that change your answer to each of 4, 5 and 6?  Explain your reasoning in each case.


b.      3 marks

If you used the CIPS professional code of ethics instead of your own personal ethics, would that change your answer in each of 4, 5, and 6?

Explain your reasoning in each case with reference to the principle or principles that apply from the CIPS code of ethics.  (It is possible that in some cases, CIPS provides no guidance).