Specific guidance for the 201760 exam
As a teaching panel we have decided to narrow the range of things that students need to focus on. From our point of view this approach to exam preparation ensures that students engage deeply with the subject matter, by having the motivation to explore particular cases and in great depth. From your point of view it should give you greater peace of mind going into the exam, because if you have prepared good answers to each of these restricted questions, then you can be sure to not only pass, but in all likelihood do well. However, we do put a caveat on this approach. That is, we will not give any students assistance with the particular cases and question examples listed here. For example, should a student come to one of us for help in applying the DET to a case study, we will gladly do so, except that we will not do so for any of the three cases listed here.
As seen in the sample exam, Part 1 asks the following of you …
Part 1 – Question 1 – Doing Ethics Technique
This session we have restricted the cases to the following three (3). One of these will appear in the exam. We encourage you to prepare all three.
i. Jean, a statistical database programmer, is trying to write a large statistical program needed by her company. Programmers in this company are encouraged to write about their work and to publish their algorithms in professional journals. After months of tedious programming, Jean has found herself stuck on several parts of the program. Her manager, not recognising the complexity of the problem, wants the job completed within the next few days. Not knowing how to solve the problems, Jean remembers that a coworker had given her source listings from his current work and from an early version of a commercial software package developed at another company. On studying these programs, she sees two areas of code which could be directly incorporated into her own program. She uses segments of code from both her co-worker and the commercial software, but does not tell anyone or mention it in the documentation. She completes the project and turns it in a day ahead of time. Australian Computer Society (2014)
ii. Company X has just signed a business agreement with Company Y, which entitles both of them to access each other clients’ records. Mr. Faisal, a software programmer at Company Z, was assigned the task of developing a software program that handles the access and retrieval of records from each Company’s database system into the other. A first run of the software on real data indicated that the work was well within the state of the art, and no difficulties were found or anticipated. Several weeks later and during a normal test on the software developed, Faisal discovered a serious ‘security hole’ in the database system of Company Y by which hackers can easily obtain confidential information about clients. He was convinced that while the software he developed could correctly accomplish the task, the code in Company Y’s database system could not be trusted as the security hole posed a threat even on Company X’s database system. Faisal told his manager about the problem and explained its significance. The manager’s response was, -That’s not our problem; let’s just be sure that our software functions properly.- Faisal is not sure what to do. Refusing to work on the project means disobeying his manager’s orders. Continuing to work on the project, means disobeying one of
God’s commands, this requires him to be truthful and sincere in his dealings. Australian Computer Society (2014)
iii. You are a computer programmer working for a small business that provides specialized financial services to local, mostly small businesses. You have been working for company X for about six months. Recently X has been occupied with reengineering the inventory system of a local hardware chain, ABC Hardware. The objective is to enable ABC to keep better track of their inventory, to be more responsive to changes in customer demand, and to adopt a “just in time” strategy to reduce inventory. Your supervisor calls you into his office. “Do you know of any existing software products to help ABC keep better track of its inventory?” You mention a particular product that you have worked with in another job and point out that ABC could use it without any modification. The only drawback, you point out, is that this software is somewhat expensive. Your supervisor leans back in his chair, puffs on his cigar and says, “That’s no problem. We have that software. Why don’t you just install it on ABC’s computers?” You diplomatically indicate that this would violate the licensing agreement X has with the developers of the software. “Do it anyway,” your supervisor says. “Nobody’s going to find out, and ABC is a very important client. We need to do all we can to keep them happy.” William J. Frey (2010)
Australian Computer Society (2014), ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct
William J. Frey (2010), The Case of the Troubled Computer Programmer, National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center.
Part 1 – Question 1 – Doing Ethics Technique (20 marks)
Analyse the above case study using the Doing Ethics Technique.
Part 1 – Question 2 – Ethical Theory question (10 marks)
We ask the students to analyse the above case study using either two or four classical ethical theories. So, it is always from the four classical ethical theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue and contract.
These will be four questions covering anything in the syllabus. In every topic that had review questions from the text we encouraged students to do them; exam questions in this section are frequently based on them.
PART 3: ESSAY (30 marks)
This session we have restricted the essay topics to the following three (3). One of these will appear in the exam. We encourage you to prepare all three.
i. A software development company has just produced a new software package that incorporates the new tax laws and figures taxes for both individuals and small businesses. The president of the company knows that the program has a number of bugs. He also believes the first firm to put this kind of software on the market is likely to capture the largest market share. The company widely advertises the program. When the company actually ships a CD, it includes a disclaimer of responsibility for errors resulting from the use of the program. The company expects it will receive a number of complaints, queries, and suggestions for modification. The company plans to use these to make changes and eventually issue updated, improved, and debugged versions. The president argues that this is general industry policy and that anyone who buys version 1.0 of a program knows this and will take proper precautions. Because of bugs, a number of users filed incorrect tax returns and were penalised by the ATO.
ii. Over the years a number of systems have been developed which record coded information across a range of factors about disabilities in ethnic communities. A new coding convention has been developed to rationalise the inconsistent coding conventions of these legacy systems. The new coding convention uses codes which had different meanings in the legacy systems. This means that time series analysis gives inconsistent results, particularly showing both under and over reporting of numbers of particular disability categories. This is significant when making policies for people based on the size of the communities. To fix this would take a lot of work and expense, and management has decreed that historical systems will not be fixed, but new systems will all adopt the new coding convention.
iii. Joe is working on a project for his computer science course. The instructor has allotted a fixed amount of computer time for this project. Joe has run out of time, but has not yet finished the project. The instructor cannot be reached. Last year Joe worked as a student programmer for the campus computer centre and is quite familiar with procedures to increase time allocations to accounts. Using what he learned last year, he is able to access the master account. Then he gives himself additional time and finishes his project.
Australian Computer Society (2014), ACS Code of Ethics Case Studies & Related Clauses to the Code of Conduct

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