Computer Ethics Institute

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The Computer Ethics Institute (CEI) is a nonprofit research, education, and public policy organization focused on the issues, dilemmas, and challenges of advancing information technology within ethical frameworks. CEI is based in Washington, DC, USA.

CEI's mission is to facilitate the examination and recognition of ethical issues in the development and use of modern information technologies. The output of this discussion provides educational resources and governing rules that have been adopted by many schools, organizations, and corporations around the globe.

CEI's constituency is composed of professionals from the academic, corporate and public policy, information technology and religious communities. In addition, its constituency is multi-disciplined, multi-cultural, cross-generational and international.


CEI was founded in 1985 as the Coalition for Computer Ethics. Founding members came from The Brookings Institution, The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), The Washington Consulting Group and The Washington Technological Consortium. The consortium’s goal was to provide methods to increase an awareness of the ethical ramifications inherent in the use of Information Technology. CEI is one of the first organizations to confront the ethical and public policy issues surrounding the advancement of information technology

Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics[edit]

This short code of ethics for using computers and information technology is the best-known product of CEI. It is often quoted in college-level textbooks and adopted for practical use. The biblical reference in the title does not imply any religious affiliation: it merely summarizes the importance of the rules compiled. (See main article: Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics.)

The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics

  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
  3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
  7. Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
  9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
  10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.


  • Protecting What Matters. Technology, Security, and Liberty since 9/11. Clayton Northouse, Foreword by Ramon Barquin and Jane Fishkin, eds., Brookings Institution Press and Computer Ethics Institute 2005 c. 216pp

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