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Chapter 7

BUS 223 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Google Buzz, Thomas Friedman, Consumer Privacy


Department
Business
Course Code
BUS 223
Professor
Haskovon Kriegstein
Chapter
7

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CHAPTER7
Thomas Friedman employs the image of a “flat world” to convey the idea that neither distance,
time, geography, or national boundaries create artificial barriers to business and trade.
Nine of the ten forces that Friedman identifies as creating this flat world are the direct
result of computer and Internet-related technologies
o Even the tenth, the fall of the Berlin Wall, is attributed in part to the information
revolution that began in the years leading up to the fall of the wall
Technology and Privacy in the Workplace
Why put technology and privacy together?
o Problems increasing with privacy and technology
o Technology is everywhere, and always has something to do with privacy
What technologies are common in today’s workplace that didn’t exist 25 years ago?
o Internet
o Computers
were rare
o Laptops
o Cellphones
o Smart
phones
o Surveillance
cameras
o USB keys
o Google
What is Privacy?
Individual space where you feel comfortable
Control the release of information
The right to be “left alone”
The right to control information
Why is Privacy Important?
If everyone knew about you, they may use it against you
Have respect for everyone
Essential point of autonomy
Defines who are as an individual, also our relationships with others
Control of personal information play a crucial role in defining our own personal identity
Serves to establish the boundary between individuals and thereby serves to define one’s
individuality
Right to control personal information and decisions helps to determine the kind of person
we are and the person we become
Ethical Sources of a Right to Privacy
Reciprocal Obligation: For an individual to expect respect for her or his personal autonomy,
that individual has a reciprocal obligation to respect the autonomy of others.
Ethicists Thomas Donaldson and Thomas Dunfee developed an approach to ethical analysis
that seeks to differentiate between those values that are fundamental across culture and
theory hypernorms and those values that are determines within moral free space and that are
not hypernorms.
o Suggest that we look at to the convergence of religious, cultural, and philosophical
beliefs around certain core principles as a clue to the identification of hyernorms
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Examples hypernorms; freedom of speech, the right to personal freedom, the
right to physical movement, and informed consent.
Individual privacy is at the core of these basis, minimal rights, in fact,
it is a necessary prerequisite to many of them
Little argument of the vital nature of privacy as means by which to
ensure other critical and fundamental hypernorms
Legal analysis of privacy using property right perspective
o The boundaries defining actions that individuals can take in relation to other
individuals regarding their personal information.
If one individual has a right to her or his personal information, someone else
has a commensurate duty to observe that right.
Employee privacy is violated when whenever;
1. employers infringe upon personal decisions that are not relevant to the employment
contract (whether the contract is implied or explicit) or;
2. personal information that is not relevant to that contract is collected, stored, or used
without the informed consent of the employee
the burden of proof rests with the employer to establish the relevancy of personal
decisions and information at issue.
Linking the Value of Privacy to the Ethical Implications of Technology
Firms often experience, and often find themselves ill prepared for the unanticipated
challenges stemming from new technology
o E.g. PhoneDog
The company created a work-related twitter account, got pretty famous, after
the employee left the company, he simply changed the name of the twitter
account as his own, and made tweets unrelated to PhoneDog
The company sued to recover from the ex-employee the $2.5 per
twitter follower, per month, in revenue that it claims it has lost
o This is still on-going case
Illustrates the dangers of failing to establish clear
policies governing the use of new technologies as they
arise in the workplace
Information and Technology
Google’s motto “don’t be evil”
o But then, they they release Google Buzz, users’ information could be seen by
everyone else, such as contact etc. privacy concerns
They were not informed that their contacts would be publicly available, and
those who chose to “opt-out” were not fully disengaged from the service
Most average email users do not understand the technology behind the
process. One would like to to believe that those responsible for the technology
are, themselves, accountable to the user
Reached an agreement to submit to biannual third-party audits of its privacy
safe-guards for the next 20 years
o A year later, google accused of misrepresenting its policy of using cookies
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Agreed to pay $22.5 million for violating the terms of its earlier settlement
regarding consumer privacy
o By failing to fully comprehend and plan for its stakeholders’ perceptions of the
program, Google not only breached ethical boundaries but also suffered public
backlash
Critics argue that google should have consulted with stakeholders, determined
the best way to balance their interests, and then considered these interest as
they introduced new programs all of which might have precluded the negative
impact on its reputation
o The lesson here is that notwithstanding even reasonable justification, people are are
simply not comfortable with an involuntary loss of control over these personal
decisions
A business needs to be able to anticipate the perceptions of its stakeholders in
order to be able to make the most effective decisions for its long-term
sustainability.
If new technology is dependent on and has as its substance information and data, significant
moral requirements should be imposed on that information:
o Truth and accuracy: The person providing the information should ensure that it is
truthful and accurate, at least to a reasonable degree.
o Respect for privacy: The person receiving or accumulating the information must take
into account the ethical limits of individuals' needs the needs of organizations in
terms of privacy. This includes issues related to company secrets, espionage, and
intelligence gathering.
o Respect for property and safety rights: Areas of potential vulnerability including
network security, sabotage, theft of information, and impersonation are enhanced and
must therefore be protected.
o Accountability: Technology allows for greater anonymity and distance requiring a
concurrent increased exigency for personal responsibility and accountability.
Managing Employees through Monitoring
A knowledge gap exists between people who do understand the technology and others who
are unable to protect themselves precisely because they do not understand
o When we do not completely understand the technology, we might not understand the
ethical implications of our decisions
Technology allows for access to information that was never before possible
o Access can take unintentionally as well
E.g. employer discovers something while doing a routine background check
that is personal, and has nothing to do with the job
Because technology allows us to work from anywhere, we are seldom out of the boundaries
of our workplace
Anther challenge posed by the new technology accessible in the workplace is the
facelessness that results from its use
o If we have to face someone as we make our decision, we are more likely to care about
the impact of that decision on that person
o given the ease and informality of electronic communication, we often “say” things we
wouldn’t to peoples’ faces
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