Tool Guideline

ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 18 July 2018

The Code and guidelines were developed by the ACM Code 2018 Task Force: Executive Committee Don Gotterbarn (Chair), Bo Brinkman, Catherine Flick, Michael S Kirkpatrick, Keith Miller, Kate Varansky, and Marty J Wolf. Members: Eve Anderson, Ron Anderson, Amy Bruckman, Karla Carter, Michael Davis, Penny Duquenoy, Jeremy Epstein, Kai Kimppa, Lorraine Kisselburgh, Shrawan Kumar, Andrew McGettrick, Natasa Milic-Frayling, Denise Oram, Simon Rogerson, David Shama, Janice Sipior, Eugene Spafford, and Les Waguespack. The Task Force was organized by the ACM Committee on Professional Ethics. Significant contributions to the Code were also made by the broader international ACM membership. This Code and its guidelines were adopted by the ACM Council on June 22nd, 2018.


Computing professionals' actions change the world. To act responsibly, they should reflect upon the wider impacts of their work, consistently supporting the public good. The ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct ("the Code") expresses the conscience of the profession.

The Code is designed to inspire and guide the ethical conduct of all computing professionals, including current and aspiring practitioners, instructors, students, influencers, and anyone who uses computing technology in an impactful way. Additionally, the Code serves as a basis for remediation when violations occur. The Code includes principles formulated as statements of responsibility, based on the understanding that the public good is always the primary consideration. Each principle is supplemented by guidelines, which provide explanations to assist computing professionals in understanding and applying the principle.

  • Section 1 outlines fundamental ethical principles that form the basis for the remainder of the Code.
  • Section 2 addresses additional, more specific considerations of professional responsibility.
  • Section 3 guides individuals who have a leadership role, whether in the workplace or in a volunteer professional capacity.
  • Commitment to ethical conduct is required of every ACM member, and principles involving compliance with the Code are given in Section 4.

The Code as a whole is concerned with how fundamental ethical principles apply to a computing professional's conduct. The Code is not an algorithm for solving ethical problems; rather it serves as a basis for ethical decision-making. When thinking through a particular issue, a computing professional may find that multiple principles should be taken into account, and that different principles will have different relevance to the issue. Questions related to these kinds of issues can best be answered by thoughtful consideration of the fundamental ethical principles, understanding that the public good is the paramount consideration. The entire computing profession benefits when the ethical decision-making process is accountable to and transparent to all stakeholders. Open discussions about ethical issues promote this accountability and transparency.



A computing professional should...

  • 1.1 Contribute to society and to human well-being, acknowledging that all people are stakeholders in computing.
  • 1.2 Avoid harm.
  • 1.3 Be honest and trustworthy.
  • 1.4 Be fair and take action not to discriminate.
  • 1.5 Respect the work required to produce new ideas, inventions, creative works, and computing artifacts.
  • 1.6 Respect privacy.
  • 1.7 Honor confidentiality.


A computing professional should...

  • 2.1 Strive to achieve high quality in both the processes and products of professional work.
  • 2.2 Maintain high standards of professional competence, conduct, and ethical practice.
  • 2.3 Know and respect existing rules pertaining to professional work.
  • 2.4 Accept and provide appropriate professional review.
  • 2.5 Give comprehensive and thorough evaluations of computer systems and their impacts, including analysis of possible risks.
  • 2.6 Perform work only in areas of competence.
  • 2.7 Foster public awareness and understanding of computing, related technologies, and their consequences.
  • 2.8 Access computing and communication resources only when authorized or when compelled by the public good.
  • 2.9 Design and implement systems that are robustly and usably secure.


  • 3.1 Ensure that the public good is the central concern during all professional computing work.
  • 3.2 Articulate, encourage acceptance of, and evaluate fulfillment of social responsibilities by members of the organization or group.
  • 3.3 Manage personnel and resources to enhance the quality of working life.
  • 3.4 Articulate, apply, and support policies and processes that reflect the principles of the Code.
  • 3.5 Create opportunities for members of the organization or group to grow as professionals.
  • 3.6 Use care when modifying or retiring systems.
  • 3.7 Recognize and take special care of systems that become integrated into the infrastructure of society.


A computing professional should...

  • 4.1 Uphold, promote, and respect the principles of the Code.
  • 4.2 Treat violations of the Code as inconsistent with membership in the ACM.


Using the Code

With the release of the updated Code of Ethics, ACM has created companion case studies that demonstrate how the principles of the Code can be applied to specific ethical challenges. Illustrative examples of hypothetical violations of or adherence to specific principles found in the Code—highlighting key nuances and directives—form the basis of the case studies.








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