The ACM Code of Ethics: Guiding Members with a Framework of Ethical Conduct

ACM Code of Ethics

The ACM Code of Ethics identifies the elements of every member’s commitment to ethical professional conduct.  It outlines fundamental considerations that contribute to society and human well-being and those that specifically relate to professional responsibilities, organizational imperatives, and compliance with the code. 

The Code consists of 24 imperatives formulated as statements of personal responsibility. It contains many, but not all, issues professionals are likely to face. The Code and its supplemented Guidelines are intended to serve as a basis for ethical decision making in the conduct of professional work. Secondarily, they may serve as a basis for judging the merit of a formal complaint pertaining to violation of professional ethical standards.

Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice

The Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (1999) is the product of the ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Software Engineering Ethics and Professional Practices. The SE Code contains eight Principles related to the behavior of and decisions made by professional software engineers, including practitioners, educators, managers, supervisors and policy makers, as well as trainees and students of the profession. 

ACM Committee on Professional Ethics

The ACM Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) is responsible for promoting ethical conduct among computing professionals by publicizing the ACM Code of Ethics and offering interpretations of the Code, as well as reviewing and recommending updates to the Code and its guidelines.

COPE is also charged with planning and reviewing activities to educate membership in ethical decision making on issues of professional conduct. Recently launched projects include:

  • Code 2018: updating the Code of Ethics and its guidelines
  • The Integrity Project: a two-year project to promote ethics in the profession through modern media
  • Ask an Ethicist: an advice column for computer ethics questions. 

Code 2018 Project

The ACM Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) is seeking active participation in revising the current ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to reflect the shifts in both technology and society since its adoption in 1992. Help define what it means to be a good computing professional by contributing to the Code 2018 project. To review the drafts and submit your comments, visit https://code2018.acm.org/discuss. Please provide your feedback by June 5.

Ask an Ethicist

Ask an Ethicist invites ethics questions related to computing or technology. Have an interesting question, puzzle or conundrum? Submit yours via a form, and the ACM Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) will answer a selection of them on the site.