Ethics in Action #3 - Workplace Monitoring and Privacy
Questions marked with a
The recent increase in online work in the marketplace and in education has seen a parallel increase in monitoring and proctoring software. Following the
Electronic Communications Act of 1986 (ECPA)
, which applies to email, phone conversations, and electronically stored data, there are currently no federal laws requiring employers to disclose to employees the extent to which they are being monitored on a company-issued device.
Consider this hypothetical scenario:
You are an IT specialist for a small private business. Your company has a policy outlining privacy and expectations for the use of company computers, email, internet and other resources to ensure productivity and protect the company from any employees engaging in illegal behavior. Over lunch, a co-worker and friend tells you that they anonymously wrote a critical post about their neighbor, who also happens to be your supervisor, on the company’s Discord channel. Later that day, you get an email from your supervisor asking you to access your friend’s computer and report on their activity.
How do you decide what to do?
Use the Eight Key Questions to guide your response.
Which of the Eight Key Questions apply?
Fairness - How can I balance all interests and act equitably?
Outcomes - What are the short-term/long-term outcomes of my actions?
Responsibilities - What duties or obligations apply?
Character - What actions help me become my ideal self?
Liberty - What principles of freedom and autonomy apply?
Empathy - How would I respond if I cared deeply about the people involved?
Authority - What do legitimate authorities expect of me?
Rights - What innate, legal or social rights apply?
What was your initial response to this scenario?
Did your response change after considering the 8KQ?
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