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Ethics in IT: An Emerging Frontier in the Enterprise Governance of IT

Guy Pearce, CGEIT
| Published: 8/26/2019 2:57 PM | Category: COBIT-Governance of Enterprise IT | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Trust. Privacy. Transparency. Three words that have invaded our technology lexicon. In an age of fashionable falsehoods, it is probably not surprising that these words permeate almost any aspect of our lives in technology, in government and even in our organizations. People are concerned that a loss of privacy is touted as the cost of security or better service, and their trust is shaken, driven by the fact that some organizations are not always forthcoming with the truth about their deployment of technology.

Should we care? The European Union (EU) seems to think so, given rigorous legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which demands data privacy and security by design for citizens of the EU by organizations that collect and use any data about those citizens.

Countries such as Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and Thailand also seem to see sense in this approach, given the development of their own privacy regulations in alignment with GDPR. So does California, perhaps but one of many US states , but one with a gross domestic product (GDP) larger than most countries. Some organizations will, however, continue to see such regulation as a burden and a cost, whereas others will see it as a key part of protecting basic human rights.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) finds that computing is already in our clothing and is becoming an integral part of our bodies, with prosthetics already able to send messages back to our brains, thus blurring the line between man and machine. There is also the untold impact quantum computing and nanotechnology will have on us.

As computing sees the convergence of the biological, the physical and the digital, a complexity arises in terms of how it should be governed to protect humans. For example, consider the datafication of children by their parents in a social media age—children are unaware of the extent of the digital footprint they have that can start even before they are born by posting a pregnancy sonar image—which raises a new set of ethics questions.

Ethics concerns doing what is right and, coupled with technology, it is about ensuring that technology is applied for the good of humankind, rather than being about finding new ways to exploit or even enslave it. My recent Journal article aims to explore a little more about the role of ethics in technology, given that computing will undoubtedly impact our lives in ways we cannot yet begin to imagine. In particular, the article argues that ethics (and culture) are as significant to the overall business of IT governance as are any of the other domains of enterprise governance of IT (EGIT).

Read Guy Pearce's recent Journal article:

"Acknowledging Humanity in the Governance of Emerging Technology and Digital Transformation," ISACA Journal, volume 4, 2019.

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