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IT workers feel less able to refuse work they don't agree with and more resigned to cutting software testing in the face of ever-shortening deadlines, according to a new study on IT ethics.

As well as commercial pressures, information security concerns over both hacker and internal attacks were high on the ethical agenda of those quizzed in the latest survey of its members by the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS).

The study - entitled Is IT Ethical? - will be launched at the ETHICOMP 2005 conference being held at Linkoping University, Sweden, 12 - 15 September. The latest (2004) edition of the survey found support growing for organisations to develop and administer ethics awareness programmes for their employees, with 93 per cent in favour of the idea compared to 86 per cent in 1998.

"With the move to international outsourcing of software development and testing, this study highlights the need for international bodies to take the lead in delivering standards that will be consistent across the industry," said Ian Rickwood, chief exec of IMIS.

Study director Mary Prior, of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University, notes, "The results of this study point to a number of areas where more guidance and support for individuals is desirable to encourage consistently responsible behaviours across the body of IS practitioners." ®

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