Date of Award

1-2023

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Peter G. Kimmel, Ph.D.

Abstract

Software has become a ubiquitous element of modern life around the world. An unprecedented amount of power is bestowed upon the companies that own and operate that software. The obvious question arises: “Do these companies operate in an ethical manner regarding their software?” We derive an ethical code via synthesizing the ethical codes of both the IEEE and the ACM, disregarding principles that cannot be examined by an outside observer. We utilize this ethical code to examine five leaders in the software industry, namely Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Amazon. For each company, we examine four incidents in which they had the opportunity to either adhere to or disregard ethical practices. We then tabulate and analyze the data, noting common trends and outstanding results. From this analysis, we conclude that the majority of the companies act in an ethical manner, but improvements must be made in the management of user information to keep what should be confidential information confidential, and to mitigate harm caused by breaches of that confidential information more effectively.

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