Social and Ethical Issues associated with Databases

Background reading: Gift of Fire (Sara Baase) and Computer Confluence 7th Edition

Here are the issues as outlined in the ITGS Guide:
  1. Privacy of information in different cultures (Sneha)
  2. Rights of individuals with respect to the storage of personal data (Kinjal)
  3. Social consequences of outdated or incorrect data stored in databases (Shuhei)
  4. Social consequences of the release of sensitive data stored in databases (Sue)
  5. Legislation on access and use of database information in different countries (Eddie/Mrs Brookes)
  6. Responsibility for the security of data stored in databases from different perspectives, for example, the developer, the user and the management of an organization (Nehal)
  7. Accountability for the negative social effects caused by insecure databases (Karan)
  8. Ethical issues related to the collection and use of personal data (Pratik)
  9. Ethical issues related to the selling of data stored in databases (Natalie)

You will select or be given one the issues above.

Step 1

Discuss what you think that the issue means. Jot down some questions and/or key points that you may want to investigate to help explain the issue. Now do some research to help answer the questions – use your text books (Baase (Chapter 2 has lots of information) and Computer Confluence (page 285 to end of chapter) BEFORE you hop onto the internet). You may also change the questions/key points if it explains the issue more clearly.

Step 2

Find examples/evidence from at least two areas of impact to illustrate the issue. You should use contrasting examples or a variety of examples for each area of impact to really explain the issue - this means that you may have 2 examples for each area of impact. Your examples should include a link to the reference. You should provide a simple summary/explanation of the example and for each example there must be a link to the evidence.

Step 3

You should evaluate your findings. In your opinion, which is the most problematic issue? Why? Can any of the issues be resolved easily? Try to be balanced in your evaluation!

Step 4

You will now read all the other issues. This is where you are to examine the issues and evaluate the information given. This is a collaborative exercise where you will work in groups to give an evaluation about the issues arising from the use of databases. We will break this down into groups:

Group 1: Pratik:: Sensitive data and collection/use of personal data
Group 2: Shuhei and Karan: Politics and Government
Group 3: Natalie: Health
Group 4: Sue and Nehal: Business and Employment
Group 5: Eddie: comparing legislation and cultures/privacy
Group 6: Sneha and Kinjal: Arts, Entertainment and Leisure

Except for Group 1 and, for this process, you firstly have to read all the evidence and learn about each of the issues presented (knowlegde and understanding) in the area of impact. Then you have to group ideas together perhaps classify in another way such as: global and local, or similarity of issues or most recent data to least. (this is the analysis part - trying to make sense of what you have read!). This is a type of discussion!

Finally, once you have analysed the evidence presented, then you need to make an overall evaluation (evaluation and synthesis) and possibly give some projection for the future (synthesis)

Please remember that you can see everyone's pages and you may want to look at what the others are writing. However don't be tempted to just copy over their ideas! We can see from the history who wrote what first!



Some students will make a significant contribution to the wiki at a number of levels. Some contributions will be technical such as editing, adding images and enhancing the presentation and applying technical skills specific to this site. Some students may only dip in now and again and although the contribtions may be significant in terms of evaluation or synthesis, they also need to contribute to this online community! All contributions need to be acknowledged. Therefore we need a grade for "contributions to making this into a living and vibrant community!". Peer review is also important.