Ethic Page:

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

  1. The case against Julian Assange and if his leaks through his website WikiLeaks are ethical is a huge case.  WikiLeaks is notorious for providing whistleblowers, hackers, and any other person with data they are not supposed to have access to a site in which they can release everything they know anonymously.  This has led to an interesting case because WikiLeaks does not have a code of ethics.  Instead, journalist Stephen J.A. Ward has asked a series of questions to try and establish where and when WikiLeaks ethics lie.  This question has arisen ever since WikiLeaks had disclosed not only the NSA ”whistleblower” Edward Snowden, and the whistleblowing from Bradley Manning involving the US military.
  2. The potential risks of sensitive information being posted on WikiLeaks are of huge concern to the companies, and/or countries it affects.  Take Bradley Manning for example, he put our countries national security at risk by releasing information to the Chinese about our military.  So, ethically, is WikiLeaks posting of sensitive information ethical?  Should a nation’s national security be put into jeopardy due to their website?  Should WikiLeaks post random, anonymously provided information on their site? Another ethical issue would be at what line does WikiLeaks out their foot down and not post it?  It seems like they will post anything and everything and without a code of ethics posted, it is unclear to the general public what is ethical to post and not.
  3. The action the employer or WikiLeaks in this case could have done is post a code of ethics that is well known and accepted cites wide.  This would make the general public more informed at what the companies intentions were, and at what point is considered too far.
  4. I think the employees of WikiLeaks could have approached Julian Assange and tried to promote having a Code of Ethics in order to reduce future problems people may have with the cite
  5. Legally, WIkiLeaks has done no wrong doing in accordance with the law.  Many governments have tried and all of them have failed at convicting Julian Assange on federal charges because the site is 100% legal.  They have no legal liabilities and that is why they have not gotten into any legal trouble
  6. Using Code of Ethics would have impacted the overall negative response to the website.  If people could easily see the WikiLeaks’ Code of Ethics, then there would have been a better understanding of their motives and why they do what they do.  WikiLeaks should strongly consider publishing a Code of Ethics in order to clear up any negative connotations that people still have about their intentions.

Edward Snowden

  1. The case against Edward Snowden’s leak happened in May of 2013.  He leaked important information regarding the United States’ program on national security that involves access to a large percentage of the population’s emails and many international emails as well.  He leaked the information because he thought what the US was doing was wrong and he could not live in this country knowing the amount of surveillance happening so he leaked.  He leaked the information to WikiLeaks which is a popular choice of many who have info to leak.
  2. The potential risks of this leak are huge from the United States perspective.  The NSA provides a huge part of counter-terrorism efforts in the country because it allows them to catch potential terrorist attacks before they can even start.  Many acts of terrorism are stopped without the public’s knowledge and the NSA is huge part of that.  This leak could lead to the public questioning the surveillance and that could lead to less security options which could lead to terroristic activity being executed.
  3. Snowden’s ethics are challenged by many when it comes to his decision to leak.  One would be his ethical stance on the position he was in.  IN the NSA Code of Ethics/Conduct, it clearly states that at the end of the day, national security and personal privacy are equally important and that sacrificing one for the other is a false decision.  So, ethically, this is a problem because as an employee who chose to be a part of the firm should know that ethically, the balance of the two is essential in order for being successful in the occupation.  The second ethical problem with Snowden is what were his initial intentions when applying for the job?  He was only employed for three months which sparks the question, why did he even apply?  He certainly must have known a few things about the firm and what his occupation would be, so did he apply only to exploit the NSA’s plans?  When looking at the timeline it seems like a very possible conclusion to what his initial intentions were.
  4. The employer seemed to have its hands tied in this case.  When looking at how fast the whole process happened, the firm really could not have done anything different.  They hired a well-qualified man, who seemed to have potential on being a good employee for them.  The goals and values of the firm are clearly stated and are probably required to be well-known in order to be hired at the NSA, and the internal intentions of a prospective employee can easily be hidden from its employers.  When it comes to whistleblowing, the timeline happened way too fast or Edward Snowden to have declared an act of whistleblowing in a legal manner.  Thus, the firm had really no actions to take because Snowden illegally leaked and that is why he is serious legal trouble.
  5. Edward Snowden could have obviously followed the legal and acceptable way to execute whistleblowing rather than leaks information to WikiLeaks. He then could have read the Code of Conduct/Ethics on the NSA website and carefully reviewed the goals of the firm and its values.  Such as equal importance to national security and privacy.  This easily is the main goal of the firm and Snowden obviously was not in-line with that objective. Snowden could have also looked over the role of his occupation and really do some self-reflecting on if the job was for him, that is, if he seriously went into the job with the expectations of working for the firm.  If not, he obviously could have took a step back and realize that his intentions were ethically wrong and that he should have not accepted the job.
  6. He is in a lot of legal trouble due to his theft of government property, and his unauthorized use of government information.  These violations fall under the category of espionage.  Some argue though, because he did not sell information, or try to hurt the United States, espionage is not a valid accusation, but the United States treats any federal information leak as espionage. So, from how the US treats information leaks, the acts of Edward Snowden were illegal.
  7. Using the Code of Ethics would not have impacted this situation that much.  Snowden knew the job that he was taking, and the company can only assume that the potential employers have read and agree with the Code of Ethics.  Obviously, in any security firm, leaking information is more than likely against the firm’s ethics.  Therefore, using the Code of Ethics would not have made much of an impact.

Bradley Manning

  1. Bradley Manning was an intelligence analyst for the United States military.  He was convicted of actions that violated the Espionage Act.  He released the largest set of documents ever to the public. The leak happened in January 2010 through WikiLeaks.  By February 15th, WikiLeaks had posted all of the information Manning had provided them with.  The reason for the leaks was to try show the public the blatant violation of human rights that were happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  2. The leaks were a potential risk the United States because Manning had released almost all the Iraq war documents which in turn were referred to as the Iraq War Logs. Due to the large amount of information leaked, the nation could have been in risk because some military information became public for any other nation to use.
  3. The ethical issues of this case are interesting.  Manning had a personal ethical issue. With access to all of that information, it was an ethical decision in order to release the violations against human rights, or to keep quiet despite the obvious infractions.  Another ethical issue Manning faced was either to pursue getting the military to act on the infractions, or simply leak the information right to WikiLeaks.  Manning chose to leak the information rather than try and resolve the issue internally.  Both of the decisions come down to the ethics of the employer the whistleblower is under, and because it was the military, I believe leaking the information was ethically wrong because of the way it was executed.
  4. The US military could have easily followed their own Code of Ethics/Conduct and punish the committers of the horrible war crimes.  The way the Code of Ethics/Conduct is written, the US military should have taken more priority in resolving this issue rather than covering it up.
  5. Manning could have easily executed whistleblowing a lot more professionally rather than mass leaking info to WIkiLeaks.  This Code of Ethics the military lives by which states to never give any information up under any circumstances was clearly violated in the leak.  This means that neither the military, nor Manning was ethically sound in this case
  6. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison due to the violation of the Espionage Act.  The military was legally responsible to pursue Manning legally for the violation against the Espionage act, and Manning probably know wholeheartedly the legal consequences that would come with such a huge leak of federal information.
  7. The Code of Ethics can easily be followed more closely by both parties in this case.  The military did not act ethically sound with its own code and neither did Manning.  Manning did violate the Code with releasing military information to the public which means foreign states have complete access to the information.  The thing to learn from this case is that the employer and the employees need to be equally responsible for following the set Code of Ethics.

Cyberethics Case Study Arguements

Case 1-Snowden Leaks-

Employer Perspective:

Issues of concern

  1. Trust
  2. Loyalty

A future employer’s perspective of these two concerns would definitely make a case to hire Edward Snowden anywhere in the security field a tough to impossible sell.  His acts of data leaking were terrible show of knowing his employers intentions.  He applied for the job, he knew what the NSA was about, and he chose to accept a contract on these terms.  With this is mind, his actions are completely wrong and unjustifiable.  Snowden has obviously proved he cannot be trusted with sensitive information.  He single handedly may have ruined the single most effective way our nation defends itself.  Nation Security thrives on intelligence gathered because usually terroristic attacks have been planned month or years in advance, and the more time the NSA employers have to analyze data and connect the dots, the more likely attack plots will be snuffed out before it can even be close to being executed.  Now that these security “leaks” have been leaked, this may make National Security a lot more difficult.

The action employers would have to take about Snowden is to simply never hire him.  He is obviously not a loyal or trustworthy employee.  He can go into a job with full knowledge of what happens in it, accept the terms, then leaks loads of classified information.  Snowden being considered a hero seems absolutely insane seeing how he made compromised the United States’ intelligence operations, and he knowingly accepted a government job only to stab them in the back.  I am not saying what our government was doing was completely right, but Snowden was completely wrong for spilling the beans, and if he ever is looking for a job again, I am sure he would have a tough time getting back into the IT world where security is everything.  With the decision to never hire him, I would make sure to hold a workshop of some sort to remind people what they signed up for and that if this is truly against your personal beliefs, leave now and there will not be any hard feelings.  It is simply not possible to run this kind of operation with leakers; it puts mud in the tires, and does not help the cause one bit.

Argument: Snowden’s leaks were unethical

  1. He knew his responsibilities when he took the job
  2. He compromised American intelligence which could lead to bigger problems than mass surveillance
  3. His leaks may weaken the whole nation’s security

Conclusion: Snowden’s actions were unethical because he acted in defiance of his responsibilities at the NSA, and his leaks compromised American intelligence which could lead to bigger threats in the future because without as much intelligence, our country may not have the necessary information to stop terroristic tragedies from occurring.

Case #2 Pfc. Chelsea (Bradley) Manning:

List of Concerns

  1. Loyalty

If a future employer were to look back on what Bradley Manning had done, their opinion of him would be a debatable topic.  On one hand, he did leaks thousands of secret military documents to wikiLeaks, but in his case, many of them were on the topic of murdering innocent civilians.  There is a certain conscious all of us humans have and we know when simply something is not right.  Looking at many of the  accounts he leaked, it is shameful to our soldiers who represent the country I’m proud to live in, disgracing what our nation stands for by killing for sport, and violating many human rights.  In Bradley Manning’s defense, it was a very noble act to stand up for the proper treatment of fellow human beings.  I think that most humans would agree that despite the lack of loyalty to his position, he witnessed humans being killed for sport, and their corpses defiled.  This is a disgusting display of our nation’s military, and the soldiers who committed these crimes should be prosecuted.  Bradley Manning does not deserve the time he is receiving and if I were an employer, I would hire him knowing that he has a great conscious, he knows what is right and wrong, and he is willing to stand up for what he believes in.  That sounds like a great, honest, hard-working employee to me and I think his punishments are unfair for simply revealing tragedies involving our own armed forces.

Argument: Bradley Manning decision to leaks US documents was ethical

  1. He exposed war crimes
  2. He wanted to show the country how horrible war was
  3. His intention was to deter war from happening and ultimately save lives

Conclusion:  Bradley Manning’s leak was ethical because his intention was to deter war and to save lives, rather than cause harm to his own nation.

Case #3- Julian Assange-

List of Concerns

  1. Controversial Figure
  2. Sexual Assault Accusations

Julian Assange has to be one of the hottest topics of the last couple of years.  He is the founder of WikiLeaks, one of the most controversial websites on the planet, and he himself is a controversial figure on his own.  He leads a website that dedicates it’s time to publishing leaks, usually government, for the public to see through normal anonymous sources.  He is known for his constant bashing of the western governments and is leader in promoting that data should be free to everyone, and that there should be no secrets.  This attitude towards governments has made him a popular target for prosecutors in countries such as the United States and Australia.  As an employer, more than likely in a publishing firm, his controversy could be looked at in two different ways.  One would be a negative connotation; his controversy is something the company would not want to deal with.  The firm would probably be under attack from people who do not agree with his ideals, and their every move would make the news.  On the other hand, the controversy could be a great publicity thing!  Ecspecially a small firm, or a massive and well known firm could use the controversy to be constantly on everyone’s minds.  A lot of publicity would come with the territory of hiring Assange which some companies would love.  It all depends on what your company is looking for.  Personally, I’d give the guy a job.  He is a good journalist, he sparks controversy, and best of all he gets people to read his articles and know about what he does even if they couldn’t care one bit!  He could sell a lot of paper, magazines, or whatever the company is for simply having one article in the whole publication.  The one concern is the Sexual Assault charge in Sweden.  This charge has been widely debated and there is not a lot of evidence to help either side in the case, and Assange has made it clear that this is obviously part of a “smear” campaign against his name.  I can actually see this being true, and despite the accusation, I feel like I would hire the guy.  His name alone can sell anything.

Argument-Julian Assange operated the website WikiLeaks ethically

  1. Wikileaks is like any other publisher and is protected by the 1st amendment
  2. Assange publishes stories from anonymous sources so there is nothing illegal about publishing the information
  3. Publishers have the right to protect their sources, meaning that even if Assange knew his sources, it is completely legal to withhold their names.
  4. WikiLeaks lives on the value that the wrong-doings of power should be known to the public and challenged on an ethical level.

Conclusion: Julian Assange and Wikileaks is a completely legal and ethical publishing company that seeks only to publish the truth about the world’s governments.

My Thought on Cyberethics

Cyberethics is an important focus point when it comes to any occupation involving technology. For my occupation, cybertethics takes on even a heavier role.  When it comes to hacking as a Certified hacker, cyberethics is a huge deal.  Many companies and government agencies have been training in employees as Certified Ethical Hackers or CEH’s.  This faces our society with huge moral dilemma, and that is, is it ethical to teach hacking even though it is considered a bad thing?  There is certainly two good sides to this dilemma.  On one side the security benefits seem like a no-brainer, if companies have CEH’s consistently pointing out weak point in their systems, then the less vulnerable they are to cyber-attacks.  The other side easily counters with the fact that people are being taught how to gain access to computers they shouldn’t have access too, which means anyone who wanted too could learn how to hack.  This is exactly why ethical use is so involved in this field.  Obviously it seem wrong to teach people how to gain access to computers, but at the same time it is easily justifiable as a simple pre-cautionary procedure.  This has the potential to became one of the most controversial talking points in the whole computer field!  These people who are employed need to know and understand the ethics based around their occupation.  It really comes down to how the people who have learned the skills of hacking use their knowledge.  Surely more than not will use their skills for good, but what happens when the odd one out turns and therefore ends up significantly undermining his employer?  Stories like this scenario seem to happen on a daily basis in today’s world.  There are many examples of big name companies being hacked and its a big deal!  Organizations such as the Syrian Electronic Army has made a huge name for themselves by instigating countless attacks o n big name companies and even the United States Marine Corps.  This just shows how predominant organized hacker groups are in the world today, and CEH’s necessity is only growing exponentially!  This is why CEH’s need to be ethically sound when they take the position.  Let’s say a CEH finds a big flaw in the security system, but instead of fixing it, he uses it to gain access into all of his employers private documents?  Scenarios like this are a daily routine for a CEH and this is why any CEH needs to use their position for a positive manner.  Edward Snowden is a perfect example of using his CEH skills unethically.  He took CEH classes and obviously used his skills in a seemingly non ethical way, but to a hacker, this was an ethical thing to do.  According to hackers, all information should be free, but when a hacker takes on the role as a CEH, should his or her ethics change?  I certainly believe so.  I am not supportive in any way of what Snowden did,  He turned his back on his employer which is ethically wrong in my mind.  Stories of him, and the NSA scandals are all prime examples of the ethics behind a position such as a CEH.




Wikileaks :