The precautionary principle in a world of digital dependencies


Pieters, Wolter and Cleeff, André van (2009) The precautionary principle in a world of digital dependencies. [Report]

open access
Abstract:According to the Jericho forum, security in information technology can no longer be achieved by building a digital fence around the organisation. We investigate the consequences of this "de-perimeterisation" for software engineering ethics. "Being in control" is no longer feasible for certain types of risk, and therefore software engineering ethics cannot only be based on foreseeable consequences.
Instead, ethics could be based on the precautionary principle, which states that lack of certainty shall not be used to postpone cost-effective measures. We translate this principle from the domain of safety to the domain of security, in which we are interested in precaution with respect to people's actions rather than natural disasters. Following the example of Napster as well as recent results in philosophy of technology, we present a guideline for ethical software development, focused on inviting desirable use.
Item Type:Report
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
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