The Influence Of Ethical Violations: Cyber-bullying & Harassment

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Technological advancement brings numerous improvements as well as apprehensions. New technology encourages individuals and businesses to improve their communication, costs, and resources. However, concerns associated with these innovations amplify when they deal with ethical and communal aspects. Amazon Echo and all the other smart device technologies place a vast fear on individual liberties when they are equipped with microphones that have the capability to listen and record all conversations which are held within ones’ household.

Apart from privacy, security and legal concerns, smart speakers such as Amazon Echo have major ethical consequences that can affect individuals and businesses widespread. Matters such as, cyber-bullying, internet-shaming, data safekeeping, ransomware, and data rights are topics which have a broad impact not only on personals and businesses but society entirely. Cyberethics, as we have first covered throughout this course defines a “cluster of moral, social, and legal issues that can be analyzed within that branch of applied ethics” (Tavani, 2016).

While others have used the term “computer ethics”, both refer to the same meaning the ethical conduct within the realm of computers and information technology (IT). A major focus within digital voice assistants is the area which deals the violations of ethics from protection and ownership of data, theft of intellectual property, bullying and harassment via web. From a moral viewpoint, let us discover the influence of these ethical violations:

Data Safekeeping

Cyber Security has been in question since it’s upbringing. As Tavani (2016) also inquired “How secure is the personal data stored on our devices or in a storage service space such as the cloud?” The question which I speculated is, what if a data breach occurred and your Amazon Echo and all your data on the smart speaker was compromised? Is this data stored in the cloud and who has access to it? Where else is this information stored? Once it is deleted, is it deleted forever?

Barrett (2017) also discovers this thought and provides a more in detail analysis on “What Amazon Echo and Google Home Do With Your Voice Data”. After all, it is quite disturbing to know a technological device is listening in to your everyday life, wouldn’t you agree? To begin Barrett (2017) introduces us to how the Google Home and Alexa do not technically start doing anything with your voice until they hear their “wake word”. Which is another method to calling the device by its trigger enabling name to switch on the device, which most of these devices are familiar with as “Alexa” for Amazon Echo or “OK Google” for Google Home. But till then, the voice is constantly “searching” for its wake word. Once the magic word is heard by the device, the device begins to switch on start recording and then eventually up to the cloud the data goes.

The cloud, which is also known as a wide shared space where multiple servers are connected on a global network to act as one, is a common storage database for a various computing purposes. When the cloud is exposed, the limits of exploitation of data is limitless. This brings me to the discussion of internet ethics when handling data security. On an ethical aspect, when a data security breach occurs within an individual’s own home, it can be quite traumatizing. If the data which is compromised are personal conversations where family with young children are in participation this can very easily end up becoming a legal issue.

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Ethics has one of the biggest roles when any data is comprised. Tavani (2016) discusses this throughout by displaying the different perspectives of Cyberethics from Professional, Philosophical, to sociological/descriptive circumstances. Professional perspectives examine codes of conduct, system reliability/safety, and professional responsibility. The philosophical outlook observes intellectual property, free speech and privacy and anonymity. Last, the sociological/descriptive perspective examines the impact of cybertechnology, on government/financial/educational institutions and sociodemographic groups which goes on to bring the effects of digital voice assistants within cyber harassment (Tavani, 2016).

Cyber-bullying & harassment

Cyberbullying and harassment are the consequences behind a comprised data breach that can lead to hacking of digital voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home which in turn could eventually control ones’ household and potentially their lives. In this portion we will be reflecting upon what bullying, and harassment implications can a comprised digital voice assistant bring to an individual, business, or society. Bradley (2017) describes more in depth on how Amazon Echo users in this case can control their privacy.

Bradley (2017) reaches out to an amazon spokesperson where he was informed “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.” This statement goes to show that though data potentially might be deleted, Amazon is still in possession on who would receive this personal data. In this case, the Arkansas murder case enforcement officials are hoping that Alexa was listening and recording voices during the time when the murder was committed (Bradley, 2017).

As a user of digital voice assistants which are comprised of a microphone listening to your day-to-day conversations, cyber-bullying and harassments are the brutal reality of the outcomes which are risen. Cyberbullying and harassment ties into Tavani’s (2016) sociological perspective of cyber ethics. The impression of society’s behavior is a key part in both aspects of discussion. As Tavani (2016) describes the kinds of questions which are examined throughout the “sociological/descriptive perspective of cyberethics”, one can easily grasp what the effects of a harassment case regarding a digital voice assistant can consist of.

In the aspect, let us discuss the situation which Tavani (2016) describes regarding harassment regarding the hacking of mobile phones of celebrities. In this incident, more than a 100 celebrity phones were hacked into and eventually led the hackers to lead nude photos of certain celebrities to the internet. Tavani (2016) mentions that the hackers had “allegedly broken into Apple Corporation’s iCloud (a file-sharing service that enables users to store their data) gaining access to controversial pictures.” Some of these celebrities noted that they had deleted these photos on their devices and therefore assumed that these photos no longer existed whereas others mentioned that some of them were ‘fake’ images. Regardless, an individual’s identity was compromised.

With digital voice assistants, an individual’s conversation could lead to the exploitation of their lives. Slawek Ligier, the VP of engineering for Barracuda mentions that “ “In order to limit the potential for abuse it’s imperative that companies providing voice assistant technology store only what is absolutely necessary to provide great service to the customer and nothing more.” (Bradley, 2017) In the end, this will end up saving the lives of individuals, businesses and society from the harsh authenticity of cyber-bullying and harassment.

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