CPR E 394
28 April 2019
Throughout the semester in CPR E 394, we have talked about different problems arising in the engineering community as technology is advancing. One of the problems we talked about was data privacy with regards to solving criminal cases. Our specific example from class was the Amazon Echo.
In the article we read about the Echo, “An Amazon Echo may be the key to solving a murder case,” murder had been committed in a man’s house and the police were looking for more evidence. Police wanted to access some of the recorded conversational data from the Amazon Echo to help solve the case. In class, we talked about the ethics of accessing this data. My group decided that the police should not be able to access conversational data from the Echo. We are unsure what all this technology records, but giving away the data would be a privacy breach of not only the Echo owner, but everyone else who has been around it.
If the police or anyone were able to access the conversational data from a device such as an Amazon Echo, we would think that consent would need to be given upon purchasing the Echo. I thought that giving away recorded data could be helpful to solve the case but given the specific scenario that our article presented to us, it does not seem worthy of the privacy breach.
IEEE has a “Code of Ethics” for engineers to follow. It is important to follow this “Code of Ethics” as it is one that recognizes the importance of technological advances and how those may affect the quality of life throughout the world. The IEEE “Code of Ethics” serves as a set of guidelines for engineers and really any creationist to follow. Some of the Ethics include: not discriminating against anyone, avoiding conflicts of interest, not accepting bribery, correcting mistakes, and complying with sustainable developmental practices (1).
When faced with a hard decision, engineers can fall back on this code of ethics and do a mental check in with themselves when reviewing a new project. Personally, I would check the IEEE “Code of Ethics” before considering starting a project, and finally, check in with myself to see if it is something that I am comfortable doing. I would make sure that the proposed task is something that is within my skill set, and that it is a problem I could see myself solving.
Going back to the article about the Amazon Echo, it is interesting to look at the “Virtue of Ethics.” The “Virtue of Ethics” asks how an “engineer can be good in a moral sense” (2). Some of the Virtues include honesty, justice, and temperance. I think these can be best applied to our article about the Amazon Echo. Honesty would help the police to find the correct murderer. Justice would mean that the right person would be caught, and temperance would help because according to the article, there was alcohol involved that night. Honor would be a good example of another virtue involved in this case. If Amazon had honorably told users that they were being recorded and could then give that information to the police, there may have been a different outcome.
- “IEEE Code of Ethics.” IEEE, ieee.org/about/corporate/governance/p7-8.html.
- Moriarty, “Three kinds of ethics for three kinds of engineering,” in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 31-38, Fall 2001.