Ethics of Cyber Deception

"...although deceivers face many uncontrollable contingencies which threaten their plans, deceptions almost always result in advantages for those who attempt them."

Deception Research Group, Naval Postgraduate School, (1980)

The general concept of deception is heavily loaded within western culture and induces a strong negative emotional response in many people. It often gives rise to a range of received ideas concerning ethicality and lying. It is therefore entirely and necessarily appropriate that the ethics of employing Cyber Deception are considered carefully by anyone who seeks to use it in a professional context.

The relationship that exists between deception and ethics means that the concepts can sometimes be confused. In fact, judging or believing that something is deceptive is not the same as judging or believing that it is unethical. In everyday life, deception can be used for a wide range of benign purposes. For example, deception is engaged in entertainment, comedy, practical jokes, storytelling and fiction, and in many other domains. In all of these applications, the methods and strategies employed are exactly the same as when deception is employed for malevolent purposes, suggesting that the deception itself is neutral, and can be used for either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ purposes. Most philosophies concerning the development of values and beliefs espouse the view that deception itself is neither immoral nor unethical.

Deception is value-neutral. It is the intent behind the deception, the purpose to which deception is put, the process that is enacted, and the outcome arising from the use of deception that must always be subject to careful ethical scrutiny and evaluation.

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