Applying Ethical Principles to Information and Communication Technology Research: A Companion to the Menlo Report
33 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2013 Last revised: 30 Mar 2014
Date Written: October 8, 2013
Researchers are faced with time-driven competitive pressures to research and publish, to achieve tenure, and to deliver on grant funding proposals. That ethical considerations can be incongruent with these incentives is neither novel nor unique to information and communication technology (ICT) research. Those conducting ICT research (ICTR) do, however, face a different breed of tensions that can impact research ethics risks. Unfortunately, institutionalized guidance on the protection of research subjects has not kept pace with the rapid transformations in information technology and infrastructure that have catalyzed changes in research substance and mechanics.
The Menlo Report summarizes a set of basic principles to guide the identification and resolution of ethical issues in research about or involving ICT. It illuminates a need to interpret and extend traditional ethical principles to enable ICT researchers and oversight entities to appropriately and consistently assess and render ethically defensible research. The framework it proposes can support current and potential institutional mechanisms that are well served to implement and enforce these principles, such as a research ethics board (REB). The Menlo Report is not an official policy statement of the Department of Homeland Security, but rather, offers guidance primarily for ICT researchers in academia and the private sector who may be funded by the government, as well as corporate and independent researchers, professional societies, publication review committees, and funding agencies.
This Companion is a complement to the Menlo Report that details the principles and applications more granularly and illustrates their implementation in real and synthetic case studies. It is fundamentally intended for the benefit of society, by illuminating the potential for harm to humans (either directly or indirectly) and by helping researchers understand and preempt or minimize these risks in the lifecycle of their research. This document integrates comments received after the December 28, 2011 publication of the Menlo Report in the Federal Register.
Keywords: ethics, ICT, computer crime, law, computer network security, computer security, professional societies, technology social factors
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