In ‘Privacy and Internet Ethics’, Deborah G. Johnson presents arguments designed to show the positives and negatives of the increased capacity of technology to gather, store and manipulate information. Which argument do you think are stronger? In your view, is there a way to embrace the benefits of technology without risking the harms that Johnson envisages?
The article by Johnson on privacy on the web presents an interesting discussion of the pros and cons of privacy protection in the Internet. It is definitely an important issue today, as the information technologies develop and grow in scale on daily basis, covering new territories and touching more and more people. This article was a valuable piece of reading for me, as it allowed me to consider privacy from a new angle. Now I understand that before this reading, I was among those people who were did not see much harm in low privacy level on the web. In particular, I shared the second and the third groups of people as defined in the article – those who considered privacy as overrated, and at the same time, I thought that it could indeed be beneficial for the companies gathering information and for me as their customer. I really thought that there could be anything bad for me from sharing personal information on the web. As a customer of many firms, both on- and off-line, it seemed convenient for me that owing to information sharing they could offer products to me that would be the most suitable for me in terms of style, price and other criteria.
However, after reading different arguments in Johnson’s article, I started to view the point in somewhat different way. The argument that I consider the strongest is the one stated in the beginning of the privacy protection part – the one of Rachels, stating that privacy was necessary for maintaining the diversity of information. I especially liked the part with explaining this argument, when the author wrote about the way this diversity influenced our relationships with people and how important it was indeed. I understood that I never thought about privacy as performing this function, which is very important in our life – control over the amount of information different people have about us and the possibility of sharing more information, developing relationships and leading them to a completely new level. I tried to imagine my life without this diversity and I understood that it would be much less interesting and diverse, which is why I understood that I definitely underestimated the privacy, thinking of it in terms of the internet use only in some marketing aspects, forgetting about the other roles and possible uses it may have. The argument about the worlds full of surveillance described by writers in different storylines only supported my impression and added to formation of a complete picture in my mind. From now on, I am sure that I will pay more attention to the issue of privacy protection on the web.
If I take into consideration the information obtained from the article, I am not sure that there exists a 100% valid possibility to enjoy benefits available owing to technology without the harm to privacy outlined in the article. I understand that today technologies are already deeply ingrained in our lives and people today are used to sharing private information with their online friends and the world. If people were more careful with information sharing or at least all understood to what consequences it can lead, there could have been a possibility of decreasing harm from the personal information sharing. However, if we talk about the level of such sharing, that exists today and the low interest of people in decreasing such sharing, I think that there is no possibility to avoid the negative consequences. At the same time, I think that people should know their rights and be informed about the possible threats and opportunities that exist in the field of IT. Everyone should make well-informed and reasonable choices and reach their own balance of privacy on the web and offline. Each person should understand what “price” he or she could pay for the benefits online communication offers to them and share such an amount of information they are comfortable with. I am sure that many people will reconsider their private information sharing habits when understanding all the possible consequences, although I still believe that for a large amount of people it will not be a problem.
In ‘Relativism and the Moral Obligations of Multinational Corporations’, Norman Bowie concludes with the following claim,
“If Romans are to do business with the Japanese, then whether in Rome or Tokyo, there is a morality to which members of the business community in both Rome and Tokyo must subscribe – even if the Japanese and the Romans differ on other issue of morality.”
The argument discussed in the Bowie’s writing is very important today in the view of increasing trend in the business world to go global. It is necessary to understand that in business, it is impossible to ensure the sustainable development of the individual subject and to minimize internal and external risks, without the application of ethical principles, because they are among the main components of the image of a business entity. They predetermine the importance of building personal relationships between business partners, based on ethical and moral principles, because losses can be experienced due to unethical business practices.
For the modern business ethics corporate social responsibility is a priori. The view that the financial health of the company less likely motivates it to comply with ethical requirements is fundamentally wrong; life itself and business practice postulated the following statement: "Good ethics is good business." Otherwise, there is a negative reaction on the part of customers and partners that will inevitably lead to a significant reduction in the profitability of the company, and replicated media dubious reputation will lead to the absence of any credibility. Ethics imposes restrictions on the business system, representing the sum of moral rules and traditions prevailing in a given society.
Business ethics - business ethics based on honesty, openness, fidelity to one's word, the ability to function effectively in the market, compliance with applicable law, established rules and traditions. The problems of ethics of international business is still not enough illuminated. An analysis of the Bowie’s viewpoint gives an opportunity to come to the conclusion that increased attention to business ethics is caused by two groups of factors. The first is that cooperation with international companies requires improvement of ethical standards of business conduct. According to the second one, business development involves responding to the problems of society, enhancing the role of corporate culture, regulation of relations with the employees, interaction with public authorities, consideration of the effect of competition on business behavior. The factors that cause the increase of the role of ethics in business are that recently there has been intensive work towards increasing the investment of resources and the development of information technology, making capital more open to control. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult to conceal information about the machinations of business. It becomes much more impressionable of its image.
It should be noted that entrepreneurship involves an initiative associated with the risk of economic activities aimed at the production of goods and services in order to obtain social and economic benefits (profits). The success of the business is largely dependent on the ability to establish relationships. Business cannot function without certain moral assumptions. Business certainly intensifies interpersonal communication and interaction, accordingly requiring moral principles, values and norms. There are three levels of ethical standards of business: global, macro level and the micro level, the evaluation of which has a direct impact on the features of a single economic system based on historical experience and possible prospects. Addressing the relationship of ethics and business should start with an analysis of sustainable ideas about the fundamental incompatibility of these two components. Relation between business and morality is rather strong. After all, entrepreneurship from the outset assumes the moral basis. There is a misconception that in business activities in the first place stands the business itself, and the morality at the second. However, the practice of conducting such activities proves the opposite. Companies that want to succeed, follow the image. There is a view, with which I cannot agree that if the owner really wants to do business, he/she must first of all think of the interests of the state, its citizens, and only then about personal gain. In my view, to improve the success of international business, it is necessary to develop a position on the moral values, the principles, rules; to create a code of conduct; to conduct social audit reports by independent organizations. In addition, it is necessary to conduct periodic training of ethical behavior; ethical conduct counseling as a form of consulting, aimed at solution of the internal ethical issues of independent experts.
Summing up, it is possible to say that business activity is a sphere of human relations. Successful business must adhere to these moral principles, which include respect for human dignity, the responsibility for their actions and words, adherence to duty, justice and legitimacy, promoting the public good, noble and reliability, openness and honesty. For further development, the business needs to make a lot more effort to continue the process of integration, the establishment of economic, cultural and scientific ties with the leading countries of the world. It is necessary to hire qualified specialists in business cooperation, with the knowledge of the cultural features of the partner countries, foreign languages. Business ethics as a normative basis for a global ethic serves an important component of foreign economic activity.