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Gift of Fire, A: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computers and the Internet, 2nd Edition

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Gift of Fire, A: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computers and the Internet, 2nd Edition

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  • NEW - Extensively updated material—Free speech issues on the Internet (censorship, spam, anonymity); privacy threats on the Web; search and surveillance technologies and their impact on the Fourth Amendment; government interception of telephone calls and e-mail (Carnivore, Echelon); intellectual property in cyberspace; computer crime (hacking, hacktivism, online fraud).
    • Explores new and emerging issues and controversies and presents students with many arguments and viewpoints.

  • NEW - Recent significant laws, court cases and decisions—Includes the Napster case, recent Web censorship attempts, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
    • Enables students to apply arguments to actual cases and understand controversies in a concrete context.

  • NEW - Added boxed information.
    • Highlights and describes examples, cases, and issues.

  • NEW - Added and updated exercises—Now totaling approximately 300.
    • Engages students in lively class discussion or individual presentations.

  • Focus on solutions to computer-related problems from technology and from markets, management, and law.
    • Encourages students to consider solutions from varied sources.

  • Discussion of how computers change established institutions and conventions.
    • Helps students understand how organizations and governments adapt to and attempt to control computer technology.

  • Comparison of the risks and problems of computer technology with other technologies and non-computerized alternatives.
    • Encourages students to maintain perspective and to appreciate the benefits of computing.

  • Analysis of ethical issues facing today's computer professionals.
    • Alerts students to the special types of problems relevant to being a responsible professional in the computer science field.


  • Copyright 2003
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Premium Website
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-008215-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-008215-2

A Gift of Fire covers the challenges and implications of computer technology—and the responsibilities of professionals who design and use computer systems. Topics include privacy (data-collection and surveillance technologies and issues), freedom of speech, computer failures, intellectual property, hacking, critics of technology, and more.

Updated with new material throughout, this text continues to provide a comprehensive look at new issues. Intended for students preparing for careers in computer science and students in other fields interested in issues that arise from computer technology, this book can be used in both introductory and advanced classes about computing or technology.

Recurring Themes

Controversies and alternative points of view such as privacy versus law enforcement, freedom of speech versus restricting content on the Internet, intellectual property protection versus access to information, and banning tools and technologies that have beneficial and harmful impacts.

Perspectives: Comparing risks and problems of computer technology with other technologies, non-computerized alternatives, and benefits of computers.

Solutions to computer-related problem from technology, the market, management, education, and law.

Instructional Tools

Hundreds of exercises, many based on real cases, many, suitable for class discussion or student presentations.

Instructor's Manual at http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/giftfire.

Sample Content

Table of Contents

 1. Unwrapping the Gift.

 2. Privacy and Personal Information.

 3. Encryption and Interception of Communications.

 4. Can We Trust the Computer?

 5. Freedom of Speech in Cyberspace.

 6. Intellectual Property.

 7. Computer Crime.

 8. Computers and Work.

 9. Broader Issues on the Impact and Control of Computers.

10. Professional Ethics and Responsibilities.


Appendix A: The Software Engineering Code and the ACM Code.


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