What would you do?

1. Your friend is going through a tough time with his current significant other and believes she is cheating on him. He is aware of your technical prowess and has asked you to help him purchase and install a stalking app on her cell phone. What would you say?

As much as I would like to help, I would have to refuse. This is a clear case of an invasion of privacy. This falls under the umbrella of Electronically Stored Information (EIS) - it is clear that federal government agencies are not allowed to monitor such information unless there is a warrant in place or a matter of national security. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) clearly states that (1) the protection of communications while in transfer from sender to receiver; (2) the protection of communications held in electronic storage; and (3) the prohibition of devices from recording dialing, routing, addressing, and signaling information without a search warrant. It is clear that helping your someone spy on their significant other, or anyone for that matter is not only unethical, it is in some case illegal.

 

3. You work as part of the online marketing group for a midsized manufacturing company that has sales of more than $250 million per year and almost $50 million from online sales. You have been challenged by the vice president of sales to change the company’s Web site data privacy policy from an opt-in policy to an opt-out policy and to allow the sale of customer data to other companies. The vice president has estimated that this change would bring in at least $5 million per year in added revenue with little additional expense. How would you respond to this request?

I would not have a problem with this request as long as a couple conditions are met. (1) I would make sure that it is clear on how a user is able to opt out of having their data collected. I would implement a setting that has the default option checked as a ‘Yes’ rather than a ‘No’ and at the same time making very easy and intuitive for the user to select the ‘No’ option. (2) I would also include a short description under the setting that clearly states that customer will be sold to third-party affiliates. I would intentionally use a smaller and slightly ghosted font to make the option description blend into the menu. It is up to the user read each option and understand what they are agreeing to.

 

 

 

 

Cases

 

2.    Facebook Troubles with User Privacy.

 

1.      Do you think that Facebook or careless, uninformed users should be held responsible for privacy issues related to using Facebook? Explain.

 

I do believe that users are ultimately responsible for their actions and how they use services such as Facebook. However, Facebook is one of those companies I feel is deliberately obfuscating their privacy settings. At one point, it took over 20 clicks from the user to access and change certain settings regarding privacy. Facebook does not charge any service or membership fees, they must be making money somewhere and its coming from their users’ information. Facebook also changes their privacy settings far too often and at times when changes are made, Facebook defaults settings to public and it is up to the user to revert their settings back to private.

 

2.      What additional measures should Facebook take to protect user privacy? What additional actions are required on the part of Facebook users to maintain adequate privacy?

They need to simplify the privacy settings. They are far too confusing and murky for the average user. Facebook does this on purpose in order to have access to more information and to make a larger profit off of its user base. Facebook needs to implement clear privacy settings that the user can adjust when an account is created.

 

3.      Describe a privacy issue so serious that it would cause you to stop using Facebook.

I keep my Facebook page locked down rather tightly so that only friends I add can see anything I post. Something that would get me to stop using Facebook would be leaking my private info to other users or using or selling my information to third parties.

 

 

 

3.    Google Collects Unprotected Wireless Network Information.

 

1.      Cite another example of information technology companies pushing the boundaries of privacy issues; apologizing, and then pushing again once the scandal dies down. As long as the controversy fades, is there anything unethical about such a strategy?

 

SoundCloud has been known to abuse its users' data at times by allowing Universal Music Group to actively scan, screen, and monitor user accounts. This will continue to be an issue as long as people continue to allow this by using their services.

 

2.      Google states that its intention in gathering unprotected wireless network information was simply to be able to provide more accurate location data for its Street View service. Can you think of any reason for Google to have gathered this data? Is there any potential service Google could consider offering with this additional data?

I believe Google was gathering the data for the reason they stated they were. Google could offer these users networking equipment that has their settings secured by default.

 

3.      Enter the street address of your home or place of work to find what photos are available in Street View. Comment on the accuracy of Street View and the content of the photos you find. Does this sort of capability delight you or concern you? Why?

I have no problem with the information Google collects via street view cameras. Google deliberately obscures the faces of people, contents of signs and advertisements, and license plate numbers. There is no invasion of privacy when a vehicle travels down a public road and takes pictures. When you’re out in public, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. It would be a completely different story if Google were to take zoomed in photos inside someone’s house for have the camera at a height that would enable it to peer over a privacy fence.