Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

New Technology, Old Issues: Demonstrating the Relevance of the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists to the Ever-Sharper Cutting Edge of Technology

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

New Technology, Old Issues: Demonstrating the Relevance of the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists to the Ever-Sharper Cutting Edge of Technology

Article excerpt

New technology brings with it new opportunities for the practice of our profession. However, this technology is also a double-edged sword in that it can also cause problems for our profession and those we serve. The Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists (3rd edition) provides a foundation for approaching the issues that can arise in its use. It is argued that psychologists need not wait for specific rules and guidelines regarding the ethical use of new technologies; rather, psychologists can utilize the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists immediately to address many of the issues involved. There is a wide range of areas in which ethical issues can arise. The focus in this paper is on three specific examples (online personal information accessibility, web-based advertising, and electronic data storage). These examples illustrate both the ethical issues involved and demonstrate the potential for how the Code can be used to think through and manage or resolve the issues. After a discussion of the three examples, the ongoing relevance of the Code to meeting the ethical challenges of continuously evolving technologies is discussed.

Keywords: advertising, electronic data storage, ethics, internet, social networks

Résumé

La nouvelle technologie crée de nouvelles occasions dans l'exercice de la psychologie. Toutefois, ces occasions peuvent être à double tranchant et susciter des difficultés aux psychologues et à leurs clients. Le Code canathen de déontologie professionnelle des psychologues (3e édition) constitue un outil pour traiter les situations problématiques qui peuvent survenir. Il est argué que les psychologues n'ont pas besoin d'attendre l'établissement de règles et de lignes directrices précises au sujet de l'usage éthique des nouvelles technologies. En effet, ils peuvent se servir du Code canathen de déontologie de leur profession pour résoudre nombre des questions qui surviennent. Nombreux sont les domaines où peuvent surgir des questions éthiques. Le présent article porte sur trois exemples précis : l'accès aux renseignements personnels en ligne, la publicité sur le Web et la conservation des données électroniques. Ces exemples illustrent à la fois les questions éthiques en jeu ainsi que la façon dont le Code peut être utilisé pour analyser et gérer, voire résoudre les situations. Après avoir examiné les trois exemples, on discute de la pertinence du Code pour résoudre les questions éthiques que suscitent les technologies qui ne cessent d'évoluer.

Mots-clés : publicité, conservation des données électroniques, éthique, Internet, réseaux sociaux.

Continuous advances in electronic and computer technology present new opportunities and ethical challenges for psychologists (Fisher, 2009; p. 76).

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, from decades ago that relates to the problems inherent with the use of cutting-edge technology and illustrates its opportunities and challenges. At the time the story takes place, fax machines were using very special, and expensive, thermal fax paper. It would be a few years until manufacturers started to sell "plain-paper" fax machines. In this story, a hospital received a telephone call from a local pizza shop. This pizza shop had recently purchased a brand new fax machine and had been advertising how one could just fax in an order and it would be delivered. They were using this new technology to provide cutting edge service delivery to their pizza clients. In the call to the hospital, the pizza shop manager was very upset. The hospital was using vast amounts of the pizza shop's expensive thermal fax paper through the inadvertent faxing of a large client file to the pizza shop. Apparently, the pizza shop's new fax number was only one digit off from another hospital's fax number where the first hospital had been trying to fax the client file. The manager demanded the hospital stop wasting the pizza shop's expensive thermal fax paper.

It is broadly recognised that "Novel or emerging technologies will continually create new ethical issues" (Koocher & KeithSpiegel, 2008; p. …

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