Management -Ethical Issue -Stakeholders -Assessment Answer

December 14, 2018
Author : Ashley Simons

Solution Code: 1ACDE

Question: Management

This assignment is related to ” Management” and experts at My Assignment Services AU successfully delivered HD quality work within the given deadline.

Management Assignment

Case Scenario

Read ''10 Ethical Issues Confronting IT Managers'' article by Jeff Relkin (https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-ethical-issues-confronting-it-managers/)

Find a recent real-life case related to ANY one of the 10 issues mentioned.

Assignment Task

  • Describe ethical issue from viewpoints of all of the stakeholders involved
  • Explain why this issue should be resolved via ethical avenues rather than the legal ones
  • What ethical obligations do all of the stakeholders have towards one another and general population?
  • What guidance (if any) can the Australian Computer Society's (ACS) Code of Ethics provide in this case?

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Solution:

Introduction

The privacy of user information represents today’s biggest ethical challenge because an increasing number of user information, transactions, and data in used via computers and handheld devices that are prone to leaks, either intentionally or non-intentional. Ethics in business has been gaining a broad traction because of a rising consumer-based society that shows concerns regarding social issues and corporate social responsibility. Ethics in business reviews the ethical principles, the moral or ethical problems that arise in the business setting. Furthermore, ethics in business goes beyond the moral code of right and wrong because it tries to reconcile what business organisation must legally do versus keeping a competitive lead over other companies.

The following report looks at the Snapchat Attack that involves the ethical issue of privacy. It describes the ethical issue from the point of different stakeholders involved. It explains why it should be handled through ethical avenues rather. The ethical obligations that stakeholders have towards one another and the public. Finally, the guidance that the Australian Computer Society’s Code of Ethics provides.

Ethical issues from stakeholder viewpoints

In February 2016, Snapchat's employee data leaked out due to a phishing attack. The phishing scam was initiated against the company – a scammer impersonating the business’s CEO asked for employee payroll data from a Snapchat department, and the department fell for the phishing scam (Stan, 2016). It raised an important ethical issue in information and technology such as the need to have proper procedures and policies that to handle sensitive data and to prevent any third party entry. Such an act raises various ethical issues from all the stakeholders involved. For example:

Employer lacked a privacy policy

The loss of the employees’ personal information points to a lack of a privacy policy that ensures the protection and the privacy of employee information. A privacy policy should have been in place that states who has access to information, how it can be used and the purpose. It is critical for the employers, the employees and other representatives to be aware and know what data can be collected and retained by the company. The employer had an ethical duty to institute proper confidential protection policy which protects an employee, and organisational information (Cartelli, p. 29). For example, the policy should designate the conditions for sharing employee data via electronic communication devices. Its lack or neglect of this ethical duty led to a violation of employee privacy.

Lack of privacy protection

The organisation lacked proper safeguards and protection to the employee data. The loss of employee data to third parties breaches the critical employer-employee trust that is vital to the working relationship. Furthermore, the data loss exposes the employees to third party attacks such identity theft, or fraud. In an organisation, the employer has the ethical duty of protecting employee data and personal information (Brunk, p. 257). The breach of this obligation represents significant damage to the two parties.

Lack of confidentiality

The organisation violated privacy because it shared sensitive information without properly vetting the recipient.  Employers and any organisation have the ethical responsibility to safeguard any employee information trusted to them and not to misuse it or disclose it. In this regard, the organisation did not have any proper measures that protect the confidentiality of its employees. Any breaches of the confidentially may damage the employee, the relationship that exists between the employer and the employee, other groups, and the character of the organisation in the community.

Lack of consent

Employees have the responsibility to ensure they have a consent agreement with the employer, and this agreement stipulates what the employee rightfully and legally allows the employer to have. Such arrangements are the cornerstone to ensuring the protection of both the employee and the employer. Furthermore, it provides a mechanism to which it can be enforced. A confidential agreement is a fundamental tool protecting employee and employer’s private data and property (Reynolds, p. 24). It provides the mechanism and the approaches to handling privacy breaches.

Resolving ethical issues ethically rather than legally

There are various reasons for addressing these ethical issues via ethical means rather than seeking legal ways. For example, solving the ethical issues ethically will lead to building stronger relationships between the two parties (Williams, p. 18). If the employees seek legal means to resolving the ethical issues, it can result in frictions between the two parties, and this can damage the working relationship. By addressing the ethical issue in an ethical fashion, the two sides will be able to strengthen their relations because both sides will be able to learn to work well together in a way that reduces any chances of a disagreement or harm. Furthermore, the employees can propose better ways of ensuring their privacy is protected and this can lead to better collaboration between the parties. Therefore, better working relationships will be established.

Secondly, resolving the ethical issue through an ethical approach will create an increased understanding between both sides and create ways of improving the ethical obligations of both parties (Cooper, p. 74). Through an ethical approach, it will allow both sides to move beyond their emotions and opinions make objective and concrete decisions. Through such strategies, the employer will get to understand his or her failings in the protection of employee privacy, and this encourages a deeper understanding of the situation and how best to resolve it in a manner that rebuilds the trusting relationship that should exist between the employee and an employer. Furthermore, the company will learn how the employees feel and think, as well as how to properly safeguard and protect their integrity (Williams, p. 22). The two parties will take a thorough look at the situation and consider other possible solutions to deter future mistake. This can lead to learning on employee privacy and confidentiality.

Finally, resolving the ethical dilemma in an ethical manner will create an avenue for solving the actual problem quickly and efficiently, thus, allowing the flow of organisational activities to continue without any interruptions as a result of a conflict that has not been solved. Conversely, addressing the issue through legal strategies will disrupt the workflow activities which may not be advantageous for both parties. Both sides will be able to resolve all the issues when they arise again, and they will be able to work efficiently. Moreover, solving the problem in an ethical manner means there can be an avoidance of tensions resulting from any misunderstanding (Singer, p. 31). Tensions due to unresolved issues results in a reduction in morale and it can impair organisational performance. Through solving the matter in an ethical manner, the employer-employee relationship can be repaired, and tensions will decrease.

Ethical obligations of the stakeholders to one another and the general population

Implementing best practice

Employers should implement best practice when it comes to handling or maintaining privacy in the workplace. Furthermore, employees should be told whether this information can be passed on to third parties. Initiating this best practice policy creates security and certainty for both the employer and the employees. It is the ethical duty of the employer to create such a policy that explains what is privacy, workplace privacy, its principles, privacy regarding employee information and the obligations of the two parties (Reynolds, p. 27). Furthermore, the employer protecting the privacy of the employee information is critical to creating a trusting relationship between the employer and employee.

Securing employee privacy

Security in this context refers to the procedures used to protect the employee information from third parties and comprises technical, managerial and physical measures. An employer or an organisation fulfils its ethical obligation in part by adopting and implementing appropriate security measures (Simshaw, p. 38). Administrative measures include the development and the enforcement of organisational guidelines concerning who has access to employee’s private information. The technical safeguards comprise the use of firewalls, passwords, encryptions and other actions that protect data from illegal access, loss or any modification. The physical safeguards include placing computers containing employees’ personal information in a secure location.

Ensuring confidentiality of information

The employer, employees and principal stakeholders have the ethical obligation of ensuring the privacy of the user, employee and employer information. When the stakeholders obtain any information with a promise of privacy, they accept an ethical duty that is fundamental to the respect of the individual and the integrity of the work. Any information that is personal in nature requires confidentiality to create trust with the person. The ethical responsibility of confidentiality is applicable to information that has been obtained directly from the user, employee, employer, or from other organisations that have a legal, professional or other obligations to uphold confidentiality (Reynolds, p. 28).

Guidance of the Australian Computer Society’s Code of Ethics

The essential characteristic of the information technology profession is for its members to abide by a set code of ethics. The Australian Computer Society necessitates its members to abide by its values and ideals that uphold and advance the dignity, honour and the effectiveness of the professional field. The set of codes of ethics provided by the society offers some guidance on the prevention and deterrence of such cases. For example, the Code of Ethics prescribes certain standards of Conduct that explain how the code of ethics is pertinent to members of the professional field. The standards of conduct demark the acceptable behaviour from any unacceptable behaviour in all practical situations that may be faced by a member. One of such cases entails where there is a social implication, such as the considering and respecting people’s privacy which might be affected by the nature of the work (The Australian Computer Society, p. 4). With the growth of information technology especially its use in surveillance, and communication have placed individual’s privacy under threat. Therefore, in subscribing to the understanding its social implication, we can deter any unlawful or unethical use especially in violating the community’s privacy.

Secondly, the Code of Ethics can offer guidance in this case through helping them understand the role and the importance of the information technology profession. Accordingly, any individual or organisation must not engage in, or be associated with, dishonest or fraudulent practices that jeopardise the integrity of the profession and the community (The Australian Computer Society, p. 4). Violating other people's’ or the privacy of employees constitutes an immoral activity under this requirement. Furthermore, in such situation a member is required to seek further advice from the society when faced with an ethical dilemma to solve the issue.

Conclusion

Today in a technology-centric society, many people are employed to collect, handle and distribute information more than any other occupation, Therefore, with the explosion of the information age, there is also the growth of the privacy violation and concern. In responding to the issue of privacy, there has been a need to apply business ethics. Ethical conduct in the information age looks at the ethical principles in consideration that arises with the increased use of the information technology. It describes the ethical standards or values that guide the actions and the behaviour of the organisation. Accordingly, an organisation needs to distinguish between the right and wrong then conducting business, and when properly applied, ethics increases the positive public image of the organisation.

The above report has looked at the case of Snapchat that faced a data leak of its employees’ personal information in February 2016. It has looked at the ethical issue from various viewpoints, for example, the lack of employee confidentiality, the absence of data protection, and lack of a Privacy policy which are critical elements in ensuring a trusting relationship between employers and staff. Secondly, it has looked at why the ethical problem should be solved through ethical avenues to repair and strengthen the relationship between the two parties. Thirdly, the moral obligations between the stakeholders, for example, an organisation’s ethical duty of ensuring proper safeguards for privacy. Finally, how the Australian Computer Society’s Code of Ethics can be used as guidance in this case.

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