Legal & Ethical Aspects of Computers

Legal & Ethical Aspects of Computers 

What kinds of ethical questions does the use of encryption technology raise with respect to cybercrime and cybercriminals?          

In the modern world, the use of the cyber and the internet in general has increased considerably. With the increased use of the internet, there has been a susceptible increase in the number of cyber crimes and cyber criminals. To combat cyber crimes and cyber criminals, many people have embarked on the employment of encryption (De, 2003). Consequently, this encryption solution comes with diverse ethical questions, which are linked to the viability of the method, a credible and ethical solution. Encryption is a form of censorship; the first ethical question that can be asked is whether protecting from the moral values violated by cyber crimes is vital as compared to the oppressive censorship exhibited by encryption.

The next ethical question is whether it is the role of the people engaged in encryption to choose what is wrong or right for the people using the internet. The next ethical question is whether there is a reason to restrict people from accessing certain information and yet they might be in dire need of it (Schultz, 2006). This is because at times people might be in dire need of a certain piece of information, which can save many lives, and yet owing to the fact that it has been encrypted, many people might lose their lives. Is it ethical to protect information that could culminate into a loss of life if not accessed?

Describe some of the controversies associated with strong encryption technologies such as in the Clipper Chip controversy, in combating crime.

The Clipper chip was an escrowed encryption microchip created in 1993 with the intention of securing vital information for the American government from almost all people but it could be broken if required by the government. Different controversies are linked to such strong types of encryption because as much as most people cannot be able to access the information contained in them, a certain faction of the government can authorize their breaking (Tavani, 2011). The first type of controversy linked to such strong types of encryption is based on cryptography reasons. The cipher algorithm utilized by the encryption infringes the Kerckhoffs’ Principle, which states that no cipher can be trusted unless it has been published and put through independent analysis. This is something that cannot be ignored because no one is readily aware of the real reasons behind the strong encryption. It can be created to violate the right of the people so it should be independently analyzed before it can be trusted and used.

The second type of controversy is the fact that strong encryption requires two or more keys, which are to be stored in different locations. In the case of Clipper chip, for the encryption to be decoded, two keys were to be used but these were to be stored in different government databases. To access these two keys, a court order had to be given. At times, some vital information might be needed in an emergency and accessing both keys might be problem. Hence, these form a major controversy based on the viability of this solution, as it might not be helpful in times of emergencies (De, 2003). Consequently, the keys might not be well secured because the court could be manipulated so that access could be acquired to the keys for malicious purposes. Instead of combating cyber crimes, these types of strong encryption can lead to an increase in the crimes.

How are the tensions underlying the classic Clipper debate still relevant today?

The tensions underlying the classic clipper debate are still relevant today because the government always comes up with different ideas based on the solutions that can be applied to solve cyber crimes. The tension culminates from the limitations and controversies attached to the clipper. These limitations can be utilized in modifying the solutions established to deal with cyber crimes (Tavani, 2011). The tension is relevant because it calls upon the government to source for alternative algorithms that can be used to form strong encryptions whose main aim should be to protect from cyber crimes and cyber criminals. The tension is relevant as it aids people to realize that some of the censorship that the government subjects them to is not linked to solving cyber crimes but it is linked to political oppression.




















De, G. R. T. (2003). The Ethics of Information Technology and Business. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

Schultz, R., A. (2006). Contemporary Issues in Ethics and Information Technology. Hershey, PA: IRM Press.

Tavani, H. T. (2011). Ethics and Technology: Controversies, Questions, and Strategies for Ethical Computing. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

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