Several photo essays are available online which highlight the problems caused by electronic waste:
These free collections of lesson resources from PG Online address ethical issues related to Computer Science. The four packs contain similar content but are tailored to individual IGCSE, GCSE, and A-Level exam boards. The PG Online website has a wide range of (paid) resources for other units and levels too.
- Cambridge IGCSE Ethics unit
- Edexcel GCSE The Bigger Picture unit
- AQA GCSE Impacts of Digital Technology unit
- OCR GCSE Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns unit
A revision video for Edexcel topic 6.1 Emerging Issues. This final topic of the Edexcel syllabus covers a wide range of concepts - from artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing, to environmental and legal impacts of technology.
Although this is designed for the Edexcel GCSE syllabus, it is also relevant to the Edexcel IGCSE syllabus.
Should Companies Admit They've Been Hacked? This is an extremely relevant case study as the past few years as seen a slew of high-profile companies attacked by criminals intent on stealing sensitive customer details (usually credit card details and passwords) from their databases. Some companies chose to hide the breaches from their customers while others were open about being compromised. This case study discusses the ethics of each approach.
In June 2013, the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers published revelations about a secret, quasi-legal US government Internet surveillance programme known as PRISM and operated by the National Security Agency (NSA). In the following weeks global media continued publishing revelations of ever more extraordinary surveillance systems. First, revelations that the NSA had worked with the British intelligency agency GCHQ to side-step legal issues, then evidence that online images were being collected and mined, and finally, confirmation that thousands of mobile phones had been monitored and tracked. Foreign allies were quickly alienated as it was revealed that the NSA had spied on supposedly friendly governments and ministers, including the Germans, Chileans, and Brazilians. The articles below highlight some of the key events in the scandal, and make excellent material for classroom discussion of the ethics of surveillance.
- The NSA and surveillance ... made simple - video animation
- NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others
- GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications
- NSA 'tracking' hundreds of millions of mobile phones
- New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies
- US allies Mexico, Chile and Brazil seek spying answers
- NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders
- NSA collects millions of text messages daily in 'untargeted' global sweep
- N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images (NY Times)
- What the NSA can (and can't) mine from intercepted photos
- NSA: Nude Snaps Agency - Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit
Many of the surveillance technologies and methods featured in Enemy of the State - which features Will Smith as a lawyer tracked down by government agents - may seem pure fantasy. However, recent revelations about NSA spying once again make this a relevant and pertinent film that deals with contemporary issues.
A compelling two-part PBS documentary about the US government (and particularly the NSA's) warrantless surveillance of the Internet of millions, which was only revealed after Edward Snowden leaked classified information
The documentary does a good job of addressing both sides of the surveillance argument, featuring interviews with government insiders, including those who were the architects of the now infamous surveillance systems.
Ethics in Computing covers a wide range of ethical situations from intellectual property to free speech and privacy. Different areas are covered - including government, medical, and educational. Each section is subdivided and has a plethora of links to case studies or news articles. This means some work is needed to find the most relevant articles, and the site itself is probably better suited to older students.
Santa Clara University has some excellent case studies relating to many aspects of information technology that can make great material for classroom discussions or assignments. Some particularly useful ones include:
Emails Exposed, which discusses the ethical implications of email monitoring and IT acceptable use policies, including the issue of user knowledge and consent. This case study is very relevant to students as it deals with monitoring performed by a university.
Removing a Search Result: An Ethics Case Study which discusses the long term impact of online information and ethical issues relating to its removal from the online record.
Free software is a video which does a good job of explaining how free software is much more than free (gratis). It talks about the freedoms offered by FOSS and provides lots of examples. It also covers some of the more practical benefits of free software by explaining problems that can occur when commercial closed source developers drop support for their older versions.
A common question that students ask is how companies can make money with free software. Where's the money in free software? accompanies the above video and addresses this issue.