We talked about the difference between morals and ethics is in the previous sections, but not all decisions we make are fully in our control. Several laws apply directly to how we make use of computers in a number of situations.
The Data Protection Act (1998)
applies to all organisations that hold data (physical & digital) and was put in place to make sure that our personal data was kept safe and used in a fair way.
Organisations are bound by eight principles that ensure they protect and maintain the data that they hold about individuals.
Under data protection rules you can ask to see, update, and remove your personal data.
The Computer Misuse Act (1990)
applies to anyone who uses a digital device.
The Computer Misuse act was introduced partly in response to hacking attempts that were difficult to prosecute because the law had not kept up with technology.
There are three levels to the Computer Misuse act, with the most severe punishable with up to 10 years in prison.
The Freedom of Information Act (2000)
allows individuals to request information about the activities of public organisations such as government offices, the police, health organisations.
Requests for information must be given unless it contradicts Data Protection. Usually responses will contain data, but nothing relating to individuals.
The Copyright & Patents Act (1990)
was introduced to protect the intellectual property of creators.
Patents applies to the design of physical products, whilst copyright applies to intellectual property, that includes digital files such as games, music, and e-books.
Copyrighting algorithms is much more difficult as this would be similar to copyrighting a maths technique!
Creative Commons Licenses
allow people to share their work for free whilst maintaining control of the copyright.
Have you downloaded a free resource from here? The free resources are shared under a Creative Commons License which means that the document can be shared & used, but must still be attributed to this site (you must give credit to where it came from).
When CC is applied to software, this is referred to as Freeware.