Ethical Dilemma Caused By Contemporary Use of Technology - Essay Prowess

Ethical Dilemma Caused By Contemporary Use of Technology


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The prompt is the following. 
The social dilemma assignment  
Your assignment will be to address one ethical dilemma that comes out of our contemporary use of technology, and one clear, thought out solution to solving that dilemma. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but: the effect of screen use on children, the addictive nature of social media, the constant surveillance of various apps and online services, etc. In order to write this assignment, however, you must fully describe the actual dilemma; in other words, in which you are able to truly show the ambivalence between two difficult choices around your central issue. 5 pages, double spaced, minimum. Minimum 3 sources, must use MLA format. The film is a required source to cite, but it does not count as one of your three – so, in other words, your Works Cited should have FOUR sources. 

Ethical Dilemma Caused By Contemporary Use of Technology

The ethical dilemma that I will address will be on surveillance of online services and applications. Surveillance may refer to paying attention to an individual or a group of individuals or keeping watch on a person, area, or an item over time. This is different from casual watching as it is focused and sustained for a longer time. However, in some instances, it involves listening or smelling. The modern technological capabilities have pushed surveillance to higher levels where various methods are being used in observing actions and behavior that do not need a physical presence. This technological advancement has also brought in several issues concerning the impact it has on the ethics in observing individuals’ actions, searching, recording, and tracing, which seems to be highly intrusive on individuals’ private lives.

 Ethics in surveillance depends on the moral aspects of how surveillance is undertaken. It is an activity that may be considered as a neutral value as it depends on if it is used for ill or good. Therefore, surveillance may either be harmful or beneficial depending on why it is being done and the use of the data obtained as a result of the surveillance (Andrejevic,2011). However, those that have been put under surveillance need to be aware of the fact that they are being monitored and the purpose for which the data which is obtained is to be used for and how they can be guaranteed of the safety of the information obtained. In many countries and jurisdictions, individuals are protected from physical searches, whereas the same protection is not offered in electronic surveillance matters. Groups that use electronic surveillance for spying, including the government, justify their actions by stating that there is no need for innocent citizens and individuals to be afraid of surveillance. The major reason for the development of technology with surveillance ability is to monitor objects’ locations, collect data about items, and track how the objects move. Some of these devices use technology to monitor individuals’ health and authenticate or identify the users of the gadgets and if they are the rightful users. Governments use surveillance to track terrorists and criminals, which is important to keep their citizens safe. This shows that the use of technology for surveillance has a good positive side despite having some dangers of being misused if the data goes to the wrong people or if the holder of the information is malicious or would like to benefit from the recorded data unfairly. Modern technology has continuously enabled the exchange and collection of private information that either the giver doesn’t know or doesn’t have control over the information they give. Most of the electronic devices are set to monitor how, when, and who is using them. Some of them have cameras that recognize the face of whoever is handling them and gadgets that also recognize speech.

 Individual information may be unknowingly and innocently be accessed by third parties. Permission to access and use data is often provided unwittingly due to lack of understanding or consent given by individuals overwhelmed by the exceedingly high number of permissions required to give about data that can be used when captured by their devices (Martin,2015). It is not clear where the responsibility in this scenario lies with the user or the manufacturer. There are no clear laws that looks at this important aspect which leaves room for abuse of personal privacy which may also lead to harm due to private data being accessed and some instances being used for malicious damage or to gain unfair advantage. This system, which is referred to as IoT (Internet of things), makes it easy for individuals to be followed everywhere, making their lives transparent and causing a great breach of a person’s privacy. The data collected ends up to be the property of the manufacturer. This means that a person’s home can no longer be considered as a Domaine that is private because the smart items and gadgets that are being used in the home are monitoring activities that are going on in these homes. The curtains and walls around a home have been rendered useless by prying eyes that can see beyond them, making the inside have no difference from the outside as nothing can be hidden inside. the concerns and equations raised concerning privacy are valid and need to be addressed to balance how the situation should be dealt with. This shows that technology that is used in surveillance is a double-edged sword. It can monitor important aspects and even control or prevent some awful events or incidents from happening. At the same time, it has access to information that may be sensitive, whereas there is no control over what may happen with the detailed information. Application of technology in modern days has become a complicated issue as it’s at a level whereby it’s applied in numerous situations and several devices. This issue can only be addressed by finding means to introduce considerable transparency and oversight level through policies that are effective and which protects the rights and freedoms of individuals or groups that are being subjected to surveillance for one reason or another.

It is impossible to have interactions using internet services without providing personal information, either implicitly or explicitly. Most of the information provided can be used in harmful ways if it is not properly taken care of and protected from being accessed by parties that are not allowed access to the information. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the technological and ethical limits to surveillance driven by data. It is critical to consider the freedom and the welfare of people who are under surveillance. Implementation of surveillance needs to be carefully analyzed to ensure that the used techniques do not pose any risk or harm, either psychological or physical, that may be unwarranted. The method that is being used and the data that is collected should also not cross any boundaries without the consent of an individual or group that is under surveillance. Deception and coercion need to be avoided, and individuals provide simple and understandable information on the data they provide and its intended purpose. The majority of people tend to give data and permission to be put on surveillance without their knowledge as they are not given clear information, especially when acquiring electronic gadgets or uploading various applications in their devices. There should be a requirement that individuals are made aware of any personal information that is being collected, who will use the information, how it will be used, and why the information will be used. Also, individuals’ consent to using the data that is to be collected should be paramount. Besides, there is also a need for those who carry out the surveillance to agree on being governed by the conditions that apply to those observed and whose data they intend to use. The aspect that machines generate is prone to error should be considered, therefore subjecting the results generated to a review by human beings to ensure that there will be no misrepresentation of facts.

Data protection should be given the highest priority to ensure that it does not fall into the unintended users’ custody. It is only used for the purpose that the owners consented to. The people subjected to surveillance should have a right to express their grievances or even challenge results if they see the need to do that (Henschke,2017). There should be clearly defined procedures in case of such challenges. The disparity between the rate of technology development and the introduction of new laws needs to be addressed.  Sanctions and redress need to be established in favor of individuals who may be aggrieved or if there is any form of unfair treatment or situations in which the procedures agreed upon have been violated. This is critical in ensuring and encouraging responsible behavior while carrying out surveillance. It is important to ensure that the law moves or changes at the same pace as technology to eliminate difficulties in dealing with this situation. There is a good chance of conducting surveillance that is ethical if measures are introduced to ensure the existence of accessible records that are reasonable and publicly available for scrutiny. Besides, there is a need to ensure a high level of accountability for those who perform and approve the surveillance.


Andrejevic, M. B. (2011). Surveillance and alienation in the online economy. Surveillance & Society, 8(3), 278-287.

Henschke, A. (2017). Ethics in an age of surveillance: Personal information and virtual identities. Cambridge University Press.

Martin, K. E. (2015). Ethical issues in the big data industry. MIS Quarterly Executive, 14, 2.

NETFLIX. The Social Dilemma. 2020, Accessed 7 Nov 2020.

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