Information Technology and Systems - Support Site

Teaching and Learning Guide/Resources

Social issues associated with information systems


This section of the course is allocated 25 hours

  • What are the issues associated with information systems?
  • What sorts of issues are there? (e.g. social, ethical, legal, political, economic, etc.)


Students should discuss and analyse the ethical, social, legal or economic issues in the context of information systems, recognising the stakeholders involved.

This framework suggests a format for consideration of these social issues:

A model for ethical decision making
Ref: Andersen et al, IT@Work Information Processing and Management, 2nd Edition, Macmillan Education Australia 2002

Step 1 Identify the problem

  • Collect the facts about the situation and check for their accuracy

  • Define the dilemma or conflict by making a brief statement that contains the key decision(s) that has to be made

Step 2 Identify the stakeholders

  • Identify the stakeholders and list what interest they have in the situation

  • Identify the likely decision maker(s)

Step 3 Identify possible alternatives

  • Identify each option that could be taken

  • Predict the likely consequences of each option, considering all the stakeholders

Step 4 Identify ethical standards

  • Check what the law currently says on the issue, if applicable

  • Identify any morals or standards held by stakeholders that may be applied

  • Find out how this situation has been dealt with in the past

Step 5 Evaluate options

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each option

  • Question whether an option is reversible

  • Identify the option that causes least harm. This may not be one that all stakeholders agree on.

Step 6 Make a decision

  • Select the preferred option

  • Justify your choice

  • Accept responsibility for the decision

The implications of information systems may include (with relevant legal references):
  • occupational health and safety (physical and mental);

  • human empowerment and dehumanisation;

  • privacy (incl. Privacy Act (C'wealth) (1988), Private Sector Amendment (2000), and Information Privacy Principles);

  • globalisation (e-commerce, internet censorship);

  • security (requirements and mechanisms);

  • intellectual property (incl. Copyright Act (C'wealth) (1968), 1984 Amendment, Digital Agenda Amendment (2000);

  • changes in nature of work and leisure including change resistance;

  • access and equity;

  • accuracy and authenticity of information;

  • computer related crime (including the Tasmanian Criminal Code (1990 Amendment), Cybercrimes Act (C'wealth) 2001);

  • computer dependence;

  • ethical considerations;

  • Government regulation (e.g. managing scarce resources)

    (incl. Broadcasting Services Act (C'wealth) (1999 Amendment), Classsification Enforcement Act (Publications, Films, Computer Games) (1995), Freedom of Information Acts (State and C'wealth), Credit Reporting Act)

Examples of resources:

Recommended/'peer reviewed': Others submitted (descending chronological order)
  Privacy issues case study - DoubleClick
  Identity theft - scenario + task based on new bank
  Legal references - list of relevant laws relating to ICT
  Ethical issues discussion template - for organising ethical issues discussions
  Internet Security (Lesson 2) - AW - PowerPoint presentation


References: - Aust. Govt website with video case studies about cyberbullying, online stalking, Internet security, online grooming (ACMA)