CGS 3095 Possible Areas for Paper & Presentation Topics

The following list includes some areas that may be a starting point for your search for a topic for your paper and
presentation. Many of these topics are quite broad, so you should focus on one specific subtopic. You are not
limited to this list – you may suggest a new topic in your proposal, but a new topic must be approved by the instructor.
You will find research and news articles in Canvas that you can use, in addition to your own research efforts. If
you are having difficulty finding resources, contact the instructor for assistance.
Intellectual Property Issues
• “Mash ups” of copyrighted material on YouTube (fake movie trailers, music mash ups, etc.)
• Copyright infringement by open source software: and
• Music IP issues: and
• Ownership in virtual worlds, plus ecommerce of virtual goods: Are virtual goods a form of
intellectual property?
• Digital rights management and how it changed the media landscape:
o Music and video downloads
o DRM vs. piracy issues
• Software piracy – why is it widespread, what are the ethically flawed justifications people use for this?
o Illegal downloads
o Illegal use of licenses (academic versions, softlifting, etc.)
• Japanese Anime: Fan Distribution, Copyright, and the Explosive Growth of Japanese Animation:
Japanese animation growth is directly related to the proselytization of fans who worked to grow interest
in America, despite flagging interest by Japanese copyright holders. A significant case spanning two
decades in which commerce and the arts were significantly boosted through the continual violation of
• Reverse engineering of software products
o Is it ever ethical?
o For products no longer sold or supported?
o For national security purposes?
• Cybersquatting, typosquatting, and domain names that are misleadingly similar to trademarked names:
• Technology patent issues
o Software patents: what should and should not be patentable in software?
o Patent trolls: companies that either purchase or file for patents that cover technology or ideas
that have been openly used in the marketplace; patent trolls then come along and demand large
licensing fees
o 3D printing will allow consumers to copy and create new 3D objects at home. How will patent
protection change in response to this threat?
Privacy issues
• Chinese government surveillance of citizens
o China – tracking its residents: social credit system
Rev. 03/20/20
• U.S. Government surveillance of citizens:
o Prism:
• Is privacy on the Internet a right or a privilege?
• ISP rights and responsibilities re privacy vs. law enforcement
• Can the use of cryptography in communications lead to cyberanarchy?; BlackNet:
• Collecting biometric information
o as a requirement for admission to an event (Tampa arena face scans, Disney fingerprint scans,
o used for determining eligibility for insurance
o used by potential employers
• Workplace:
o Do you have a right to privacy in the workplace regarding email, voicemail, phone calls, etc.
during business hours? After hours? Using company-supplied equipment?
• Computer privacy: Computer Technicians and Objectionable Files on Company or Personal Computers:
Under what circumstances is it either permissible or required for a computer technician repairing a
computer to report the contents of files (such as pornography or terrorist-related info) inadvertently
found there?
• FaceBook:
o Is the expectation of privacy invalidated by the voluntary sharing of PII (personally identifiable
information) on these social networking sites?
o Is the use of data from these sites for commercial marketing purposes ethical?
• Google and Privacy
• Sensors in public spaces vs privacy issues
o Surveillance cameras (e.g., facial scanning at Tampa’s football stadium)
o GPS/Geolocation technologies
▪ Continual tracking of your movements – who has access to this data
▪ iPhone geolocation tracking
o Biometrics in public places
• RFID-embedded items vs. Privacy
o High-tech garbage trash cans will tell if you are recycling
o Clothing, shoes, & cash
o Automated toll collection systems
• GPS-enabled devices vs privacy
o On-Star service
o in rental cars, commercial vehicles
o GPS location capability in cell phones
o Geotags on photos and videos
• Targeted marketing based on data mining of salaries, purchase history, etc. (“I Know You Want It”)
o Potential abuses: Will it result in different pricing for different customers based on ability to
o Potential benefits: access to exactly the items that interest you with less effort on your part?
• Deep packet inspection at the ISP level: a privacy issue?
o Invalidates Net Neutrality
o ISPs need to do this for “traffic shaping”?
• Electronic data recorders (black box) in vehicles: should insurance companies have access to this data to
determine your policy rates? Should law enforcement be allowed to issue citations based on the data?
Who owns the data?
Rev. 03/20/20
First Amendment Rights
• First Amendment Rights of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly – how can (or
should) they be applied to:
o Internet Pornography
o Cryptography
o Cyberhate
o Spam
• Are citizens allowed to record police officers on duty? Is this a safety issue?
Fourth Amendment Rights
• 4
th Amendment rights against search and seizure: how can or should they be applied to
o Logging of network activity
o Logging of web surfing activity
o Retention of email/chat messages
o Seizure of cameras or cell phones used to record police officers on duty
Legal and Social Issues in Virtual Worlds
• Sovereignty on the Internet versus cyberanarchy
o Getting accurate information – consider blogs, freelancers
o Collaborative information: Wikipedia and the possibility of spin, defamation, etc.
o Democracy (or benevolent oligarchy) in cyberspace governance
• Second life: Blurred boundaries between virtual worlds and real life
o Virtual adultery – is it the same as real world adultery?
Professional/Programmer Ethics & Responsibilities
• Is it ethical to violate standards of ethics for counterintelligence or national security purposes?
o Providing incorrect code to USSR during the Cold War
o Providing incorrect plans for constructing nuclear weapons
o Hacking for national security purposes
o Cyberwarfare: viruses to destroy an enemy’s communication ability?
o Stuxnet worm
• Is hacking ever ethical?
o For national security purposes?
o During criminal investigations?
o Life and death emergencies?
o Shutting down objectionable web sites?
o Retrieving information posted by a now-deceased loved one?
• Do programmers have responsibility for how their code is used?
o Writing software for advanced technology weapons that will be used to kill others
o The ethics of biowarfare
o Writing software used by NSA, CIA, etc., for surveillance purposes
o Writing software for advanced medical devices
o Writing software for critical infrastructure (water systems, traffic systems, dams, electrical grids,
bridge tending, banking/financial, ports, etc.)
o Unintended uses of the software (e.g., BitTorrent)
• Software and Critical Public Infrastructure: Intellectual Property Rights vs. National Security
o Software contract disputes vs. public infrastructure: Giant Robot Imprisons Parked Cars:
Rev. 03/20/20
o Threats to critical public infrastructure software
• What are a computing professional’s responsibilities for
o Refusing to implement buggy or flawed code?
o Refusing to implement unworkable architectures?
o Refusing to install unlicensed software? Incorrect licenses?
• Collaboration with governments (at any level) for surveillance – is it ethical?
o Google in China
o Countries that totally control web access through their own ISP
• Ethics of Scambaiting: you enter into a dialogue with scammers (such as the Nigerian scam), simply to waste
their time and resources, potentially helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims.
• Original Hacker Code of Ethics – is it relevant today?
• Computer-based or console games
o Developer ethics: Do the games teach ethics (good or bad), even if unintentionally? (Grand Theft
Auto, Sims Online, World of Warcraft, Fat Princess, Super Columbine Massacre RPG,,)
o Player ethics: Ethical/unethical behavior of game players – cheats, hacks, purchasing levels, ganging
up on newbs, etc.
o Addiction aspect of computer-based/console games:
▪ Since addicts of any nature are usually not productive citizens, but rather consume social
services, should the government step in?
▪ Suing a game maker for making the game too addictive:
▪ Cyberloafing, private transactions during work hours: Do the breaks increase productivity,
or are employees working less for the company than ever before?
• White worms (infecting a computer with a worm that attempts to stop/remove a malicious worm):
o Mirai vs Hajime worm
o Using vigilante botnets to stop evil botnets
• Software for Critical Medical Systems
o Project management issues – how much testing is enough?
o Release schedule pressure vs. quality of software
o Inability to update due to needing FDA approval
• Programmed stock trading: Does it cause larger/faster market swings? Does it disadvantage the individual
stock trader?
Technology and Human Enhancement
• Cyborgs:
o Human Enhancement Technologies & Human Rights:
▪ Should athletes with bioengineered limbs be allowed into the Olympics?
▪ Supersoldiers:
▪ Cyborg soldiers:
▪ The next reality show? “Pimp my chromosomes”??
o Military use of bioengineered animals and insects – is this ethical:
• Technological Singularity: when robots or machines surpass human intelligence:
Anonymity issues
Rev. 03/20/20
• Anonymity on the Internet:
o Does anonymity on the Internet help preserve your rights?
o Does anonymity on the Internet expose you to danger because you cannot identify those with
whom you are interacting?
• Anonymity in virtual worlds – is this different? Is it desirable?
• Fake identities:
• Fake Twitter accounts: when someone pretends to be a celebrity. Issues of IP, possible libel?
• WikiLeaks contributors: anonymity aids whistleblowers, but does it protect illegal actions as well?
Other Legal and/or Social Issues
• Kill switches – giving one device authority over others: Who should have the authority to remotely disable
o Examples: Using OnStar to remotely disable autos; prohibiting camera usage in museums and
recording devices in theaters; prevent students from texting during class
• Are there any trusted sources of information?
o Starsuckers documentary: Illustrates how truth has
become devalued by the modern news media; reveals some immoral, corrupt and illegal practices
employed by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, who collect, create or bury
stories for a price.
o Media Bias is real: