gation to protect fundamental human
rights and to respect the diversity of all
cultures. An essential aim of computing
professionals is to minimize negative
consequences of computing systems,
including threats to health, safety,
personal security, and privacy. When
designing or implementing systems,
computing professionals must attempt
to ensure that the products of their efforts will be used in socially responsible
ways, will meet social needs, and be
In addition to a safe social environment, human well-being requires a safe
natural environment. Therefore, ACM
members who design and develop systems must be alert to, and make others
aware of, any potential negative impact
to the local or global environment.
1. 2 Avoid harm to others.
“Harm” means injury or negative consequences, such as undesirable loss
of information, loss of property, property damage, or unwanted environmental impacts. This principle prohibits using computing in ways that
result in harm to users, the general
public, employees, employers, and
any other stakeholders. Harmful actions include intentional destruction
or modification of files and programs
leading to serious loss of resources,
or unnecessary expenditure of human
resources such as the time and effort
required to locate malicious software,
purge it from systems, and mitigate its
Well-intended actions, including
those that accomplish assigned duties,
may lead to harm unexpectedly. In such
an event, those responsible are obligated to undo or mitigate the negative consequences as much as possible. Avoiding unintentional harm begins with
careful consideration of potential impacts on all those affected by decisions
made during design, implementation,
use, and removal.
To minimize the possibility of in-
directly harming others, computing
professionals must minimize errors by
following generally accepted best prac-
tices for system design, development,
and testing. Furthermore, harm can be
reduced by assessing the social conse-
quences of systems. If system features
are misrepresented to users, coworkers,
or supervisors, the individual comput-
ing professional is accountable for any
In the work environment, an ACM
member has an additional obligation
to report any signs of system risks that
might result in serious personal or social harm. If one’s superiors do not act
to curtail or mitigate such risks, it may
be necessary to “blow the whistle” to
help correct the problem or to reduce
the risk. However, capricious or misguided reporting of risks can itself be
harmful. Before reporting risks, all relevant aspects of the incident must be
thoroughly assessed as outlined in imperative 2. 5.
1. 3 Be honest and trustworthy.
Honesty is an essential component of
trust. An ACM member will be fair and
not make deliberately false or misleading claims and will provide full disclosure of all pertinent system limitations
and potential problems. Fabrication
and falsification of data are similarly
violations of the Code.
An ACM member has a duty to be
honest about his or her own qualifications, and about any limitations in
competence to complete a task. ACM
members must be forthright about any
circumstances that might lead to conflicts of interest or otherwise tend to
undermine the independence of their
Membership in volunteer organizations such as ACM may at times place
individuals in situations where their
statements or actions could be interpreted as carrying the “weight” of a
larger group of professionals. An ACM
member will exercise care not to misrepresent ACM or positions and policies
of ACM or of any ACM units.
1. 4 Be fair and take action not to dis-
The values of equality, tolerance, respect for others, and the principles of
equal justice govern this imperative.
Unfair discrimination on the basis of
age, color, disability, family status, gender identity, military status, national origin, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual
orientation, or any other such factor is
an explicit violation of ACM policy.
Inequities between different groups
1. 5 Honor intellectual property rights
of people may result from the use or
misuse of information and technol-
ogy. In a fair society, all individuals have
equal opportunity to participate in, or
benefit from, the use of computer re-
sources. However, these ideals do not
justify unauthorized use of computer
resources, nor do they provide an ad-
equate basis for violation of any other
ethical imperatives of this code.
and give proper credit.
ACM members are obligated to protect
the integrity of intellectual property, unless there is an overriding ethical reason not to do so. Examples of types of
violations include (but are not limited
to) misrepresentation of authorship,
misrepresentation of the origin or ownership of ideas or work, misappropria-tion of a commons, unauthorized use,
unauthorized copying, unauthorized
derivative works, and counterfeiting.
In normal circumstances, violations of
intellectual property laws pertaining to
copyrights, patents, trade secrets, nondisclosure agreements, and license
agreements are contrary to the Code.
Even when not explicitly barred by law,
such violations are contrary to the Code.
Fair uses of intellectual property are
necessary for the progress of technology in the service of the public good.
ACM members should not oppose appropriate fair uses of their intellectual
Efforts to help others by contributing time and energy to projects that
help society illustrate a positive aspect
of this imperative. This includes contributions to projects that are in the public
domain, free software, or open source
1. 6 Respect privacy.
Technology enables the collection
and exchange of personal information
quickly, inexpensively, and often without the knowledge of the people affected. ACM members should use this personal data for legitimate ends without
violating the privacy rights of individuals and organizations. ACM members
should therefore implement security
measures to maintain the privacy and
integrity of personal data. This includes
taking precautions to ensure the accuracy of data, as well as protecting it
from unauthorized access or accidental
disclosure to inappropriate individuals.
Computing professionals should establish procedures to allow individuals to