STANDARDS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
DEONTOLOGY OF C.I.T.E.M.A.
Centro de la Informática, Telemática y Medios Afines

1. In the exercise of his professional activities, the informatician will strive to spread the knowledge of computer science principles, of the instruments used in the information process and of the exact value of its results through its use. He will oppose himself to whichever false, inexact or exaggerated claims or affirmation which may occur.

The diffusion of science and one's professional technics is a constant in deontological codes, from the "Hippocratic Oath" to the latest texts.

In this profession, this moral duty offers a special importance, because the fast developing of the implied technics has given rise to a lot of mistaken concepts and a mythicization of computers. The only fact of having called computer "electronic brain", with all the ambiguous consequences that expression can bring, is a symptom of a kind of latent belief regarding to pretended thaumaturgical virtues of the computers. That's why the obligation of opposition to false, inexact or exaggerated affirmations or pretensions had been aggregated to the obligation of teaching.

2. The informatician will only accept professional jobs which he is enabled to do and the solution or conclusion which can be supported on the technical and scientific knowledge. In the opposite case, he must advice the Committee about the limitations that computer science systems offer, as well as the errors and prejudices that can lead to an undue manipulation of the results.

This is one of the assumptions in which more clarity is obvious about the danger of a bad use of computer science, as well as the possibility of an irresponsible use. In the juridical area, it would not be easy to require penal or civil responsibility for any prejudices that this use can cause. That involves the necessity of expressing a moral criterion which makes the professional warn his client or committee of the danger.

Maybe the cases in which more clearly this danger must be warned are the extended electoral soundings, polls (of market) and other similar works, in which manipulations of the results may fit, forcing some establishments or exposing biased results.

3. The informatician will contribute to the progress of computer science and treatment of information, exchanging documentation and experience with other professionals and specialists, and will not hide the knowledge and experience acquired which could serve to the development of computer science.

With this rule, it is pretended call the attention about the moral inadmissibility of the attitudes of monopolization of technics or information with a view to exploit the advantage that supposes to dispose of ways that other professionals do not have. The fast technological access to the most advanced technics before others. The abuse of this situation of privilege would be morally illicit.

4. The informatician will never use the situation of advantage that represents for him the access to the files and to the equipment he has in charge, for his own benefit.

This standard does not request further explanation, because in pure deontology it is illicit to create undefended situations.

5. The informatician will always have in mind the demand for the protection of information, avoiding slightness or negligence which could alter or destroy the data registered on processable supports.

The protection of the physical integrity of the information registered requires the diligent use of dispositions or technics which prevent the information from being altered or erased by all kinds of serious prejudices.

6. The informatician will refrain from doing any copy of registration, with or without a spirit of profit, without a responsible person's authorization.

He will never take or produce programmes or usuary's programmes, of which he has knowledge, or of routines and other parts of the same, nor the supports in which they are registered.

Both rules must not be understood in the meaning of pretending to protect a dominical right about the data or programmes. They are annexed to the fourth standard. They are deontological rules parallel to the juridical standard of the illicitness or lack of protection situations.

7. If, because of his professional activity, he has access to information transmitted between time-sharing operation systems, he will observe the most absolute secret about that information.

This is a deontological rule conceived to face the problems of conscience that can stir up in a specific computer science situation and that can be more frequent in a near future.

8. The informatician will not disclose to a third party the data registered in data base to which he has access in the exercise of his activity.

By "personal data" we have to understand, especially, those that make reference to one or various of the next circuits: relations of employment, fiscal capacity, insurance, penal antecedents, in case, political, ideological or religious activities, marital status, commercial settlement, banking or saving accounts, studies and educational antecedents, properties, etc. The criterion defined about this is the conception of the private sphere as a whole of personal information or data. Its diffusion is a personal decision of the people involved. It is not a personal information which may be of intimate character, but which is normally presumed that any particular person (not a public person, like an artist, politician, etc.) wants to protect it.

9. The informatician will only provide personal data when he is bound to it for legal dispositions based on public welfare or public interest.

This rule is the logical counterbalance of the previous ones. If the moral prohibitions of the improper use or acquisition of the personal information is kept to its last consequences, it can originate results which are opposed to the purposes which are pursued with those prohibitions. The conflict between the duty of respect the intimacy and the exigency of public welfare can arise. In a deontological level, the primacy of public welfare is clear, as it has been determined in the preamble. Though the point of reference in this rule is given by the legal dispositions, that oblige in all conscience, it is necessary in the moral aspect to submit it to the adequation of public welfare or public interest.

10. The people who represent the Administration as well as the titular or the executive body to which the exercise of the discretional power in relation with computer science falls to, will always observe the just respect of the personality of the administered and his intimacy.

That is a general principle of all deontology referring to the Administration; because the Administration is impersonal those deontologies are addressed to the physical person, who on behalf of the Administration, adopts the decisions juridically imputable to its members.

This general standard is susceptible of developing into more concrete rules. A big variety of criteria which go from the deontological orientation of the civil servant to the promulgation of laws or specific regulations, exist in all countries about this, arriving at the creation of institutional dispositions of control. The purpose that has been useful as a basis to the redaction of these rules prevents from expressing a great precision in the development of the general rule that precedes it because, on the contrary, it will give signs in circuits strange to that purpose, as in the elaboration of true and own juridical rules, or in the creation of professional corporations.


English translation provided by Porfirio BARROSO, and slightly revised by the Editor, 94/10/04.


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