Last Updated: 2015-01-20 Tue 19:04

CS 105: Computer Ethics and Society

George Mason University
Spring 2015
1 Credit

1 Meetings

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

Section Day Time Location Class Dates Final Exam Instructor
003 Tue 1:30-2:45pm Ngyuen Engineering 2608 1/20 - 3/31 4/7 Kauffman
004 Thu 1:30-2:45pm Ngyuen Engineering 2608 1/22 - 4/2 4/9 Kauffman
005 Mon 9:00-10:15am Ngyuen Engineering 2608 1/23 - 4/6 4/13 Kauffman
006 Wed 9:00-10:15am Ngyuen Engineering 2608 1/21 - 4/1 4/8 Kauffman

2 Lecturer

Name Chris Kauffman
Sections 003, 004, 005, 006
Office Hours Tue 4:30-5:30pm
  Wed 3:00-4:00pm
Office Engineering 5341
Phone 703-993-5194

3 Teaching Assistants

Office Hours available by appointment

Sections Name Email
003, 004 Roop Mehdi
005, 006 Carlo Retta

4 Contact

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

5 Materials

  • 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
  • Web: Blackboard at 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.

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.

7 Learning Outcomes

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

8 Prerequisites: None

9 General Education

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

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.

11 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.

Component Weight per Unit Total Weight
2 Out-of-class assignments 15% 30%
3 In-class quizzes 6.67% 20%
1 Final Exam 30% 30%
Participation Chances 20% 20%

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

Percent Grade Percent Grade Percent Grade Percent Grade
>= 98 A+ 90-88 B+ 80-78 C+ 70-60 D
98-92 A 88-82 B 78-72 C <60 F
92-90 A- 82-80 B- 72-70 C-    

12 Policies

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.

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.

12.3 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.

12.4 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.

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.

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.

13 Helpful Web Links

13.1 Assistance with Essay/Report Writing:

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.

Week Dates Topic Reading Assignment Homework Due
Week 1 1/20-1/26 Introduction: Ethics & Computers    
Week 2 1/27-2/2 Philosophical Ethics Quinn 1.1, 1.5, Skim 1.2-4  
      Quinn 2 All, Interview: James Moor  
Week 3 2/3-2/9 Philosophical and Professional Ethics Quinn 9.1-2, 9.5-6, Skim 9.3-4  
      Integrity statement, CS Honor Code  
      Appendix A  
Week 4 2/10-2/16 Professional Ethics/ Plagiarism/ Accountability Quinn 8 All, Focus on 8.5  
Week 5 2/17-2/23 Accountability/ Computer Crime Quinn Ch. 7 All Assignment #1 Ethical Theories
    Last Day to drop without permission from the dean   Due: Tue. 2/17 By 11:59 p.m.
Week 6 2/24-3/2 Computer Security Interview: Matt Bishop (Ch 7 end)  
      Online Security Readings  
Week 7 3/3-3/16 Information Privacy and Social Networking Quinn 5 All  
  3/9-3/13 Spring Break, No Class    
Week 8 3/17-3/23 Privacy and the Government Quinn 6 All  
      Interview: Jerry Berman  
Week 9 3/24-3/30 Intellectual Property Quinn 4.1-3 (IP Basics) Assignment #2 Security/Privacy
      Skim 4.4 (Fair Use) Due: Tue. 3/24 By 11:59 p.m.
      Read 4.5.7-9 (DRM)  
      Read 4.6.6-9 (Internet Piracy)  
      Skim 4.7-9 (Fair Use / Open Source)  
Week 10 3/31-4/6 Workplace Issues/ Wrap-up and Review Quinn 10 All,  
      Esp. 10.5.6 (Net neutrality)  
Week 11 4/7-4/13 Final Exam, normal class time and location Comprehensive:  
      All previous material is fair game.  

Author: Chris Kauffman (
Date: 2015-01-20 Tue 19:04