CS 105: Computer Ethics and Society

George Mason University
Spring 2014
1 Credit


This is a 10-week course and the final exam will be in class on the 11th week.

The course begins in the 2nd week of the GMU semester. No classes are held the first week.

SectionDayTimeLocationClass DatesFinal Exam
003T1:30-2:45pmRobinson Hall B2201/28 - 4/84/15
004R1:30-2:45pmRobinson Hall B2201/30 - 4/104/17
005M9:00-10:15amNgyuen Engineering 26081/27 - 4/144/14
006W9:00-10:15amNgyuen Engineering 26081/29 - 4/94/16


NameChris Kauffman
Sections002, 003
Office HoursM/T 3:30-4:30pm
OfficeEngineering 5341

Teaching Assistants

Office Hours available by appointment

003, 004Jennifer Vanmvan@gmu.edu
005, 006Supriya Pandetispandeti@gmu.edu


We strongly encourage you to contact the instructor and TAs 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 004 Question about Kantianism


  • Textbook: Quinn, Michael J., "Ethics for the Information Age" 5th Ed., Addison-Wesley, 2013. The textbook is required and students are expected to keep up with readings
  • Web: Blackboard at mymasonportal.gmu.edu. Look for CS 105 and you section number which may be combined with other sections under you professor. All additional materials (readings, slides, announcements) will be available through the web site.

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.

Learning Outcomes

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

Prerequisites: None

General Education

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

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.

Grading and Evaluation

Grading will be based on two major assignments, three in-class quizzes, overall in-class participation, and the final exam. These are weighted based on the following weights.

ComponentWeight per UnitTotal Weight
2 Out-of-class assignments15%30%
3 In-class quizzes6.67%20%
1 Final Exam30%30%
Participation Chances20%20%

Final grades will be determined according to following approximate ranges without rounding.

>= 98A+90-88B+80-78C+70-60D


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.

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.

Absences and Participation Credit

Absences from class for health or emergency reasons are excusable as long as some proof of the situation can be provided. 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 can not be made up.

Late Work

It is at the sole discretion of the professor on whether to accept any late work. In many cases the out-of class assignments are accepted late with a 10% penalty per day late. Pay attention to deadlines.

Grading Disputes

Disputes regarding graded assignments, quizzes 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.

Special Accommodations

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see your instructor and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at (703) 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the DRC.

Helpful Web Links


The approximate schedule of topics and due dates is listed here. Check the web schedule for the most up-to-date version.

WeekDatesTopicReading AssignmentHomework Due
1/21-1/25No Class during GMU's First Week
Week 11/27-1/31Introduction: Ethics & Computers
Week 22/3-2/7Philosophical EthicsQuinn: Ch 1 (pp. 2-5, 38-42);
Ch. 2 (all)
Week 32/10-2/14Philosophical and Professional EthicsQuinn: Ch. 9 (pp. 403-420);
Integrity statement, CS Honor Code
Week 42/17-2/21Professional Ethics/ Plagiarism/ AccountabilityQuinn: Ch. 8 (pp. 355-381)Assignment #1 Ethical Theories
Appendix ADue: Sat. 2/22 By 11:59 p.m.
Week 52/24-2/28Accountability/ Computer CrimeQuinn: Ch. 7 (pp. 315-334)
9/27Last Day to drop without permission from the dean
Week 63/3-3/7Computer SecurityQuinn: Ch. 3 (pp. 140-41)
3/10-3/14Spring Break, No Class
Week 73/17-3/21Information Privacy and Social NetworkingQuinn: Ch. 5 (all)
Week 83/24-3/28Privacy and the GovernmentQuinn: Ch. 6 (all)Assignment #2 Security/Privacy
Due: Sat. 3/29 By 11:59 p.m.
Week 93/31-4/4Intellectual PropertyQuinn: Ch 4: (pp. 161-178, 199-204)
Week 104/7-4/11Workplace Issues/ Wrap-up and ReviewQuinn: Ch. 10 (pp. 447-468)
Week 114/14-4/18Final Exam, normal class time and locationComprehensive:
All previous material is fair game.

Date: 2014-02-02T08:56-0500

Author: Chris Kauffman

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