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Business - Emerging Technologies.docx

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Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

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ETHICAL ISSUES REGARDING EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES  Intellectual property is one of the most ethically contentious business issues of the 21t century  There is no doubt that the computer and the internet were two of the most significant th inventions of the 20 century. Perhaps the most important feature of computers and the web is that they allow quick access to information  The way businesspeople work with information has been transformed  Information technology has changed the scale of information gathering, the kind of information that can be gathered and the scale of information exchange  Johnson points out that the normal way of addressing these issues is to speak to trade- offs between the right to privacy of those individuals whom the information is about and the needs of those who use the information. Those who want the information argue that it makes for better decision making. What is needed, Johnson believes, are arguments on behalf of privacy that counterbalance the benefits of information gathering. Because improved decision making is a social good, Johnson is attracted to arguments that make privacy a social good as well  Many web sites that have privacy policies enable you to indicate that you do not want to receive ads from the site or have your information sold to third parties. This is called opting out. Privacy advocates would require a strategy called opting in  Chair of congressional subcommittee that held the hearing characterized the actions o the internet companies as sickening collaboration  In his contribution to this chapter, Jeffrey Smith examines the recent practices of ICPS in China and concludes that ICPs are actively engaged in supporting the Chinese government’s suppression of the rights to expression, association and privacy  Partly in response to these events the WTO, as its Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar declared that the trade-related aspects of intellection property rights TRIPS agreement should be interpreted as ensuring the right of member nations to promote access to medicines for all when public health crises result in national emergencies  Argues that the standard arguments used by pharmaceutical companies to defend vigorous patent protection are unpersuasive and that the companies have far greater obligations than they have previously acknowledged PRIVACY AND INTERNET ETHICS – JOHNSON  The fact that records were paper and stored in file cabinets imposed limitations on the amount of data gathered as well as who had access and how long records were retained  IT was shaped in response to the interests of corporations and governments  Today, distribution of personal information is broader and more extensive than it was 10 or 20 years ago  A transaction record or change in one’s credit rating can instantaneously move to anywhere in the world where there are electricity and telecommunications connections  The distribution of information can take place with or without the knowledge of the person whom the information is about, and it can take place intentionally as well as unintentionally  Errors in information arise due to unintentional human error or may have occurred intentionally, for example when someone tampers with data because they want to harm a competitor or enhance their own position  So, in IT configured societies: 1. Much more personal information is collected 2. New kinds of personal information are created. 3. Personal information is distributed more widely 4. This information endures for longer periods of time and 5. The effects of erroneous personal information are magnified  Combinations of data can also be mined to find patterns and correlations that might not otherwise be obvious  As we move to the case against surveillance and for privacy, the frame of the argument wills start with a utilitarian analysis and then shift away from utilitarianism toward arguments based on autonomy and democracy  Someone putting forth this argument might go as far as to say that privacy only protects people who have something to hide  Unfortunately, the effects of personal information flow are much more complicated and not always as benign as the argument suggests  May of 2008, the electronic privacy information center filed a friend of the court brief in the US supreme court urging the accuracy of police databases be ensured. Describing how unreliable government databases have become, the brief urges the court to ensure an accuracy obligation on law enforcement agents who rely on criminal justice informational systems  The problem is not just that erroneous information can lead to decisions that are harmful to individuals. There is also the issues of irrelevant information – information that would be inappropriate or unfair for an organization to use  And, even when information is accurate, it can be used inappropriately to make decisions for which the information is irrelevant or even illegal to use  Although it may be true that individuals trade off privacy for what may seem like small benefits, it is unclear how this behavior should be interpreted  The consequences of giving up personal information may be so distant from the act of disclosing it that individuals do not accurately perceive the negative consequences  The bottom line here is that it is difficult to interpret the meaning of the choices that individuals are making about their personal information  The cumulative effects of giving up privacy in this or that sector may not be evident when we focus on privacy in each particular domain separately  The third argument is that personal information-gathering practices can be beneficial to information gathering organizations and to their customers and subjects  On the other hand, there is some question as to whether organizations use the information they collect and manipulate to serve their customers, clients and citizens  Because information gathering institutions use information about us in ways that have powerful effects on our lives and appropriate use is essentially to whether we are being treated fairly  Privacy continues to receive a good deal of public attention, although over the years much of the battleground of privacy has shifted to a set of debates about personal information in different domains  Early concerns about privacy focused on whether individuals oculd be said to have a legal constitutional or moral right to privacy  Privacy in relation to government differs from privacy in relation to the private secto
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