Continuous investment is made by the organisations in the computer systems that are designed for improvement of effectiveness and efficiency (Van Slyke, 2008). Considering the essential and central role of information and communication technologies in the organisations it is of immense significance that ethical sensitivity percolates in terms of the activities and decisions that are related to information and communication technologies (Gehnris & Szul, 2002). It is required of the organisations to take into consideration the ways the strategic framework is set for information and communication technologies for recognising corporate and personal issues of ethics, how the systems methods balance economic, technological and ethical considerations, the issues of intellectual property pertaining to data and software, ways in which information has grown to be a key resource for the organisations and how information integrity needs to be safeguarded, the growth in organisational responsibility for ensuring no violation of privacy rights occur, the growing scope of misuse of information and communication technologies and the ways of coping with the significant and swift changes in it (Qiang, Pitt & Ayers, 2004).
StealthGenie is an application that was meant to track the personal movements of an individual without them being aware of it. It had been marketing to catch infidel partners by listening to their phone calls and also by tracking their locations. However, the maker of the application, Hammad Akbar was asked to pay US$ 500000 as fine. As per the federal officials, the application violated law since it offered secret monitoring of communications including phone calls which was typical of the law enforcement (Life, Apps & Maker of smartphone surveillance app fined, 2014).
The usage of mobile phones across the globe has witnessed dramatic increase and the convenience associated with easy communication led to such tool of communication being used regularly. StealthGenie aided the retrieval of contact lists, address book, sms message, location information and call logs that can either break or make a case while investigating infidelity.
The theory of just consequentialism developed by J.H. Moor combined consequentialism and the core values. It had been developed as a potential remedy for ethical problems that involved computers and related networks. The ethical evaluation of a policy requires consequence evaluation of the policy. Often the policy consequences get compared with the related consequences of other policies possible (Talbott, 2013). If the actions involving information technology had no adverse or harmful consequences, there would not be the requirement of such policies.
In the given case, Hammad Akbar had broken the law unknowingly when he advertised and sold the application that permitted the users to monitor surreptitiously the activities of individuals who had the program installed in their phones. Akbar had not evaluated the consequences and was not aware that the US law was being violated. The related consequence of the application indicates that such apps are frequently used by those who indulge in domestic violence. The fine against Akbar was to propagate that peddling with technology would face prosecution. Akbar had developed the application with the intention of tracking infidelity but it was majorly used for violating privacy including digital stalking of one’s daily life.
A significant alternative to Consequentialism are deontological theories that maintain an individual has rights and it is incorrect to violate such rights simply based on the fact that doing so would lead towards an improved balance of better state of affairs over the bad ones (Segev, 2015). In the given case, Akbar provided to his clients an application that would help them keep track of other individuals via their phones with the tabbing of calls, access to numerous phone data and in short monitor their daily life. The question that arises is if his application is correct or not and if he by commercialising it was encouraging illegal activities? If the application is wrong, this would indicate the consequentialist position to be false since the application with violation of privacy helped in catch cheating partners.
It was observed that Akbar said he was not aware that he was violating the law. Hence it is significant of the policy makers to spread awareness of the importance of ethics in information and communication technologies and provide the appropriate methods and tools for the identification and address of the ethical issues.
It is required that the application developers be aware of the legal aspects and related consequences. They should be able to distinguish between ethics and law and follow the legal requirements of the nation.
It is essential that the related stakeholders realise ethics cannot be pre determined or fixed in structure. Ethical issues often are dependent on context and need interpretation as per the situation on hand. The participants are required to collectively engage in the ethical issue definition that needs to be considered and review the definition while engaging with the involved stakeholders through the stages of the process of technology development.
The intention of Akbar was to keep a track on cheating partners. However, there are not too many ways to monitor the use of applications and this led to StealthGenie being misused by a number of law violators including domestic abusers. Gaining physical control of the phone of the target to install the application and then conducting secret surveillance is something that only law enforcements are permitted though it is legal for parents regarding their children or caregivers for the elderly relatives with due consent. Akbar had not been aware that the US law was being violated and he would not have developed, advertised or sold the application had he been aware of it. Hence it was a case of just Consequentialism where the intention and the outcome of the application were hugely different on which Akbar had no control.
The recommendations thus provided would make such applications law abiding and need to be such developed that privacy of a person is not violated without his consent. Consequence evaluation is significant to curb any discrepancy arising in the future.
Gehris, D. & Szul, L. (2002). Communication technologies. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Life, D., Apps, S., & Maker of smartphone surveillance app fined, a. (2014). StealthGenie maker fined for 'stalker' app. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 May 2016, from
Qiang, C., Pitt, A., & Ayers, S. (2004). Contribution of Information and Communication Technologies to Growth. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Segev, R. (2015). Should we prevent deontological wrongdoing?. Philos Stud.
Talbott, W. (2013). Consequentialism and Human Rights. Philosophy Compass, 8(11), 1030-1040.
Van Slyke, C. (2008). Information communication technologies. Hershey, Pa.: Information Science Reference.