CS 105: Computer Ethics and Society


Fred Geldon


  1. 1. Meetings  

This is a 10-week course, with one skipped week, and the final exam will be in class on the 12th week.





Class Dates

Final Exam





Nguyen Engineering 1103

8/31 - 11/9 (Note: No class on 11/26)






Nguyen Engineering 1110

8/31 - 11/9 (Note: No class on 11/26)




  1. 2. Lecturer  


Fred Geldon




004, 008



Office Hours

Before/after class, or by appointment (via email)












  1. 3. Teaching Assistant  

Office Hours for teaching assistants are available by appointment.





Andrew Davidson



  1. 4. Contact  

We strongly encourage you to contact the instructor or TA if you are experiencing difficulty with the course. We are here to help you learn.

For all e-mail communications, include the course and section number in your e-mail subject line to avoid being flagged as trash. For example

Subject: CS 105 Section 001 Question about Kantianism

  1. 5. Materials  
      1. Textbook  

Quinn, Michael J., "Ethics for the Information Age" 6th Ed., Addison-Wesley, 2013. The textbook is required and students are expected to keep up with readings.

      1. Web  

Blackboard at http://mymasonportal.gmu.edu. Look for CS 105 and your section number (which may be combined with other sections under your professor). All additional materials (readings, slides, announcements) will be available through the web site.

  1. 6. Course Description  

Legal, social, and ethical issues surrounding use of computers and the internet. The course will stress ethical decision-making as well as legal and social responsibility in connection with technology-related concerns. Issues such as security, crime, privacy and intellectual property will be examined in the context of computer use. Students may be requested to conduct research on the internet in any of these areas and/or learn to use practical technological tools related to privacy and security.

  1. 7. Learning Outcomes  
  1. 1.Students will understand many of the key ethical, legal and social issues related to information technology and how to interpret and comply with ethical principles, laws, regulations and institutional policies.  

  2. 2.Students will understand the essential issues related to information security, how to take precautions and use techniques and tools to defend against computer crimes.  

  1. 8. Prerequisites: None  
  2. 9. General Education  

This course has been approved to satisfy the GMU General Education requirement for one credit of IT Ethics.

  1. 10. Course Work  

This is primarily a discussion-based course. You are expected to attend all course meetings and participate in conversations about course material as well as in-class activities relevant to the course. To facilitate this, assigned readings are to be done before class.

There are two major writing assignments to be done outside of class which comprise a substantial portion of the overall grade. Additional work such as outside research or contributing to discussion board topics may be assigned.

This class relies strongly on class participation. Therefore, it is important that you attend class on a regular basis. While you are welcome to attend an alternate lecture session if you miss your own, please note that you may not assume instructors in different sections will present the same materials. Similarly, unless you obtain advance approval from your instructor, you may not receive credit for class participation or other in-class activities when attending a section other than your own.

  1. 11. Grading and Evaluation  

Grading will be based on two major assignments, in-class quizzes, overall in-class and Blackboard Discussion participation, and the final exam. These are weighted as follows:


Total Weight

2 Out-of-class assignments


In-class quizzes


Final Exam


Class/Discussion Participation



  1. 12. Policies  
    1. 12.1. Assignment Completion  

Unless otherwise specified, all papers and other written assignments are to be individual efforts. Certain portions of group assignments may require individual efforts as well. Be careful to follow instructions regarding acceptable group efforts.

    1. 12.2. Academic Integrity  

Plagiarism is governed by the GMU Honor Code and will not be tolerated. Instances of cheating and/or plagiarism will be referred to the Honor Committee. Refer to the Familiarize yourself with both the honor code at GMU and the further details of the CS Honor Code Policies.

    1. 12.3. Absences and Participation Credit  

Absences from class for health or emergency reasons are excusable, but your professor may require some evidence. Participation and quizzes may be made up on a case-by-case basis according to criteria dictated by the professor. Making up participation must be discussed with the professor within 10 days of missing the class. After that period, participation and quiz credit cannot be made up.

    1. 12.4. Late Work  

Late assignments are accepted until the last class, but are subject to a 5-10% penalty per day late (unless the professor has extended your deadline). Pay attention to deadlines.

    1. 12.5. Grading Disputes  

Disputes regarding graded assignments, quizzes, and exams must be raised within 10 days of the graded material being available to the student. Disputes not raised in that period will not be considered.

    1. 12.6. Special Accommodations  

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see your instructor and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS). All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS.

  1. 13. Helpful Web Links  
    1. 13.1. Assistance with Essay/Report Writing:  
    1. 13.2. Other  
  1. 14. Schedule  

The approximate schedule of topics and due dates is listed here. Check the web schedule for the most up-to-date version. Readings from "Quinn" refer to the required course text and give the section numbers to read. Sections marked "Skim" can be briefly scanned. Sections marked "Interview" refer to end of chapter interviews to read.





Homework Due

Week 1


Introduction: Ethics & Computers



Week 2


Philosophical Ethics

Quinn 1.1, 1.5, Skim 1.2-4, Quinn 2 All, Ch 2 Interview: David Moor


Week 3


Philosophical and Professional Ethics

Quinn 9 All,

Appendix A

Statement On Academic Integrity by Peter J. Denning,  

CS Honor Code Policies


Week 4


Professional Ethics/ Plagiarism/ Accountability

Quinn 8 All, Focus on 8.5


Week 5


Accountability/ Computer Crime

Quinn Ch. 7 All

Optional: Cybersecurity as a Profession

HW1 Ethical Theories, Due: Sat. 9/24 By 11:59 p.m.

Week 6


Computer Security

Quinn, 3.8

Ch 7 Interview: Matt Bishop

Facebook hacked (medium)

Matt Honan hacked (long)

GMU Password Policy (short)

Traditional method of picking hard passwords (short)

Picking password that's easy to remember and hard to crack (awesome)

Avoiding Phishing (medium)


Week 7


Information Privacy and Social Networking

Quinn 5 All


Week 8


Privacy and the Government

Quinn 6 All


Week 9





Week 10


Intellectual Property

Quinn 4.1-4.4, Skim


HW2 Security/Privacy, Due: Sat. 10/22 By 11:59 p.m.

Week 11


Workplace Issues/ Wrap-up and Review

Quinn 10 All, especially 10.5.6 (Net neutrality)


Week 12


Final Exam, normal class time and location

Comprehensive: All previous material is fair game.