materials, such as teaching materials.
There are many items that are important, even crucial, that are nonetheless
not appropriate in the Code.
It is important, and tricky, to get the
length of the Code right. There were
some calls for the Code to be made
shorter, possibly short enough to fit on
a business card. There are legitimate
concerns about someone choosing not
to read the Code because it is too long.
Rather than opt for that kind of brevity, we have targeted a middle ground.
The Code must reflect the diversity of
the activities computing professionals are involved in. Broader impacts of
technology are not always clear or immediate, and the Code contains language to remind the reader to consider
those broader impacts. Furthermore,
the Code is intended to serve as a tool
to use during ethical analysis. The guidance helps the professional to a deeper
understanding of the principles. We
hope that the Code is written in a way
that facilitates a quick scan, as well as
rewarding a more careful reading.
Call to action
After reading Draft 3 of the ACM Code
of Ethics, please take the opportunity
to make it better as a standard for the
computing profession. We have provided two opportunities for you to share
your comments. There is a general discussion board https://code2018.acm.
org/discuss providing an opportunity
for interested parties to discuss the suggested updates and ACM members are
invited to take an online survey about
the specific elements of the Code at
vey. Both comment systems close
Feb. 10, 2018.
We look forward to your comments.
III. ACM Code of Ethics and
Professional Conduct: Draft 3
Draft 3 was developed by The Code
2018 Task Force. (It is based on the
2018 ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct: Draft 2).
The actions of computing professionals
directly impact significant aspects of
society. In order to meet their responsi-
bilities, computing professionals must
always support the public good. The
ACM Code of Ethics and Professional
Conduct (“the Code”) reflects this obli-
gation by expressing the conscience of
the profession and provides guidance
to support ethical conduct of all com-
The Code is designed to support
all computing professionals, including current and aspiring computing
practitioners, instructors, influencers,
and anyone who uses technology in an
impactful way. Additionally, the Code
serves as a basis for remediation when
violations occur. The Code includes
principles formulated as statements
of responsibility, based on the understanding that the public good is always
the primary consideration. Each principle is supplemented by guidelines,
which provide explanations to assist
computing professionals in understanding and applying the principle.
Section 1 outlines fundamental
ethical principles that form the basis
for the remainder of the Code. Section
2 addresses additional, more specific
considerations of professional responsibility. Section 3 pertains to individuals who have a leadership role, whether in the workplace or in a volunteer
professional capacity. Commitment
to ethical conduct is required of every
ACM member, and principles involving
compliance with the Code are given in
The Code as a whole is concerned
with how fundamental ethical principles apply to a computing professional’s conduct. The Code is not an
algorithm for solving ethical problems; rather it serves as a basis for ethical decision making. When thinking
through a particular issue, a computing professional may find that multiple principles should be taken into
account, and that different principles
will have different relevance to the issue. Questions related to these kinds
of issues can best be answered by
thoughtful consideration of the fundamental ethical principles, understanding that the public good is the
paramount consideration. The entire
computing profession benefits when
the ethical decision making process is
accountable to and transparent to all
stakeholders. Open discussions about
ethical issues promotes this accountability and transparency.
1. GENERAL MORAL PRINCIPLES.
A computing professional should...
1. 1 Contribute to society and to human
well-being, acknowledging that all people are stakeholders in computing.
This principle, concerning the quality
of life of all people, affirms an obligation of computing professionals to use
their skills for the benefit of society,
its members, and the environment
surrounding them. This obligation includes promoting fundamental human
rights and protecting each individual’s
right to autonomy in day-to-day decisions. An essential aim of computing
professionals is to minimize negative
consequences of computing, including
threats to health, safety, personal security, and privacy.
Computing professionals should
consider whether the results of their
efforts respect diversity, will be used
in socially responsible ways, will meet
social needs, and will be broadly accessible. They are encouraged to actively
contribute to society by engaging in pro
bono or volunteer work. When the interests of multiple groups conflict, the
needs of the least advantaged should be
given increased attention and priority.
In addition to a safe social environment, human well-being requires a safe
natural environment. Therefore, computing professionals should promote
environmental sustainability both locally and globally.
1. 2 Avoid harm.
In this document, “harm” means negative consequences to any stakeholder,
especially when those consequences
are significant and unjust. Examples
of harm include unjustified physical
or mental injury, unjustified destruction or disclosure of information, and
unjustified damage to property, reputation, and the environment. This list is
Well-intended actions, including
those that accomplish assigned duties,
may lead to harm. When that harm is
unintended, those responsible are obligated to undo or mitigate the harm as
much as possible. Avoiding harm begins with careful consideration of potential impacts on all those affected by
decisions. When harm is an intentional
part of the system, those responsible
are obligated to ensure that the harm is