2. 2 Maintain high standards of profes-
sional competence, conduct, and ethi-
High quality computing depends on
individuals and teams who take personal and organizational responsibility for acquiring and maintaining professional competence. Professional
competence starts with technical
knowledge and awareness of the social context in which the work may be
deployed. Professional competence
also requires skill in reflective analysis
for recognizing and navigating ethical challenges. Upgrading necessary
skills should be ongoing and should
include independent study, conferences, seminars, and other informal
or formal education. Professional
organizations, including ACM, are
committed to encouraging and facilitating those activities.
2. 3 Know, respect, and apply existing
laws pertaining to professional work.
ACM members must obey existing
regional, national, and international laws unless there is a compelling ethical justification not to
do so. Policies and procedures of
the organizations in which one participates must also be obeyed, but
compliance must be balanced with
the recognition that sometimes existing laws and rules are immoral or
inappropriate and, therefore, must
be challenged. Violation of a law or
regulation may be ethical when that
law or rule has inadequate moral basis or when it conflicts with another
law judged to be more important. If
one decides to violate a law or rule
because it is unethical, or for any
other reason, one must fully accept
responsibility for one’s actions and
for the consequences.
2. 4 Accept and provide appropriate
Quality professional work in computing depends on professional reviewing
and critiquing. Whenever appropriate, computing professionals should
seek and utilize peer and stakeholder review. Computing professionals
should also provide constructive, critical review of the work of others.
2. 5 Give comprehensive and thorough
evaluations of computer systems and
their impacts, including analysis of
Computing professionals should
strive to be perceptive, thorough,
and objective when evaluating, recommending, and presenting system descriptions and alternatives.
Computing professionals are in a
position of special trust, and therefore have a special responsibility to
provide objective, credible evaluations to employers, clients, users,
and the public. Extraordinary care
should be taken to identify and mitigate potential risks in self-changing
systems. Systems whose future risks
are unpredictable require frequent
reassessment of risk as the system
develops or should not be deployed.
When providing evaluations the professional must also identify any relevant conflicts of interest, as stated
in Principle 1. 3.
As noted in the guidance for Principle 1. 2 on avoiding harm, any signs of
danger from systems should be reported
to those who have opportunity and/or
responsibility to resolve them. See the
guidelines for Principle 1. 2 for more
details concerning harm, including the
reporting of professional violations.
2. 6 Accept only those responsibilities
for which you have or can obtain the
necessary expertise, and honor those
A computing professional has a responsibility to evaluate every potential
work assignment. If the professional’s
evaluation reveals that the project is
infeasible, or should not be attempted
for other reasons, then the professional should disclose this to the employer
or client, and decline to attempt the
assignment in its current form.
Once it is decided that a project
is feasible and advisable, the professional should make a judgment about
whether the project is appropriate to
the professional’s expertise. If the professional does not currently have the
expertise necessary to complete the
project the professional should disclose this shortcoming to the employer
or client. The client or employer may
decide to pursue the project with the
professional after time for additional
training, to pursue the project with
someone else who has the required expertise, or to forego the project.
The major underlying principle
here is the obligation to accept personal accountability for professional work.
The computing professional’s ethical
judgment should be the final guide in
deciding whether to proceed.
2. 7 Improve public understanding of
computing, related technologies, and
Computing professionals have a responsibility to share technical knowledge with the public by creating awareness and encouraging understanding
of computing, including the impacts
of computer systems, their limitations, their vulnerabilities, and opportunities that they present. This imperative implies an obligation to counter
any false views related to computing.
2. 8 Access computing and communi-
cation resources only when authorized
to do so.
This principle derives from Principle
1. 2 - “Avoid harm to others.” No one
should access or use another’s computer system, software, or data without permission. One should have
appropriate approval before using system resources, unless there is an over-riding concern for the public good.
To support this clause, a computing
professional should take appropriate
action to secure resources against unauthorized use. Individuals and organizations have the right to restrict access to their systems and data so long
as the restrictions are consistent with
other principles in the Code (such as
Principle 1. 4).
In this section, “leader” means any
member of an organization or group
who has influence, educational responsibilities, or managerial responsibilities. These principles generally apply to organizations and groups, as well
as their leaders.
A computing professional acting as a
3. 1 Ensure that the public good is a
central concern during all professional
The needs of people—including users, other people affected directly and