Can companies resist wrongdoing in a digital world?
Rapidly advancing technologies such as big data analytics offer potentially great benefits to companies and consumers, but experts warn that modern technology also has a downside: It can give companies seeking a competitive edge the tools to engage in illegal or unethical practices. Because digital devices—from the sensors and computers that control the inner workings of automobiles to code that tracks individuals’ activities on the Internet—are powered by software that is inherently invisible, consumers and regulators are often in the dark about the data that companies are collecting and how they are using it. Industry groups and outside observers disagree about what should be done. The former argues self-regulation is sufficient while the latter seeks tough regulation and increased ethics training in business schools and companies. Among the questions being debated: Should the uses of big data be more tightly controlled? Should there be limits on employers’ monitoring of employees? Is software too open to abuse?
Bamberger, Kenneth A., and Deirdre K. Mulligan, “Privacy on the Ground: Driving Corporate Behavior in the United States and Europe,” MIT Press, 2015. A University of California, Berkeley, law professor (Bamberger) and a professor at Berkeley's School of Information (Mulligan) explain the regulations governing corporate use of consumer data in five countries, including the United States, and how those regulations shape company behavior.
Howard, Philip N., “Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up,” Yale University Press, 2015. A communications professor at the University of Washington outlines the challenges to come in the age of the Internet of Things and suggests measures to ease the way.
Schneier, Bruce, “Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World,” W.W. Norton & Co., 2015. A security expert explores, and explains, the reach and power of surveillance tools that corporations and governments are using.
Barocas, Solon, and Andrew D. Selbst, “Big Data's Disparate Impact,” California Law Review, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Hunt, Robert M., “You Can Patent That? Are Patents on Computer Programs and Business Methods Good for the New Economy?” Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, First Quarter 2001, http://tinyurl.com/
Richards, Neil M., and Jonathan H. King, “Big Data Ethics,” Wake Forest Law Review, May 19, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Big Data and Privacy: A Technological Perspective,” President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, May 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
“Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy,” White House, Feb. 23, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
“Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability,” Federal Trade Commission, May 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
“The Latest on Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance,” American Management Association, Nov. 17, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
“A Review of the Data Broker Industry: Collection, Use, and Sale of Consumer Data for Marketing Purposes,” Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Office of Oversight and Investigations Majority Staff, Dec. 18, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Ciocchetti, Corey A., “The Eavesdropping Employer: A Twenty-First Century Framework for Employee Monitoring,” May 29, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Furletti, Mark J., “An Overview and History of Credit Reporting,” Discussion Paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, June 2002, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Clover, Charles, “China: When big data meets big brother,” Financial Times, Jan. 19, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Darrow, Barb, “Coming Soon: Ethics Training for Data Scientists,” Fortune, Dec. 4, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Green, Chloe, “By 2018 big data will be responsible for half of ethics violations in business – study,” Information Age, Oct. 7, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Melendez, Steven, “The Office Is Watching You,” Fast Company, May 22, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Shockman, Elizabeth, “Gamifying the workplace: is it ethical?” Science Friday, Public Radio International, Sept. 5, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Son, Hugh, “JPMorgan Algorithm Knows You’re a Rogue Employee Before You Do,” Bloomberg Business, April 8, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Ashford, Warwick, “EU privacy watchdog to set up ethics advisory group,” Computer Weekly, Jan. 6, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Scott, Mark, and Natasha Singer, “How Europe Protects Your Online Data Differently Than the U.S.,” The New York Times, Jan. 31, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Wagner, Kurt, and Mark Bergen, “Europe's 'safe Harbor’ Ruling: A Headache for Tech Giants, but a Blow to the Little Guys,” re/code, Oct. 6, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Lam, Bourree, “For More Workplace Diversity, Should Algorithms Make Hiring Decisions?” The Atlantic, June 22, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Noguchi, Yuki, “How Startups Are Using Tech To Try And Fight Workplace Bias,” NPR, Sept. 1, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Pepitone, Julianne, “Can Résumé-Reviewing Software Be As Biased As Human Hiring Managers?” NBC News, Aug. 17, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Center for Democracy and Technology
1634 I St., N.W., #1100, Washington, DC 20006
Advocates laws, corporate policies and technology tools that protect the privacy of Internet users.
Direct Marketing Association
1333 Broadway, Suite #300, New York, NY 10018
Industry organization that represents the interests of marketing companies and data brokers.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
815 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA 94109
Focuses on defending civil liberties in the digital world and lobbies for legislation at state and federal levels.
Electronic Privacy Information Center
1718 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20009
Research center focused on technology-related privacy and civil liberties issues; also lobbies for privacy legislation.
The ePolicy Institute
2300 Walhaven Court, Columbus, Ohio 43220
Consulting group that offers seminars and webinars to clients seeking to minimize electronic risks, maximize compliance and manage employees’ online use and content.
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580
Agency charged with preventing business practices that are anti-competitive or are deceptive or unfair to consumers; also holds workshops, makes legislative recommendations and conducts enforcement actions.
National Society of Professional Engineers
1420 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Professional society that provides education and training, and advocates for measures aimed at protecting engineers and the public from unqualified practitioners.
National Workrights Institute
128 Stone Cliff Road, Princeton, NJ 08540
Nonprofit spinoff from the American Civil Liberties Union that is focused on protecting human rights in the workplace.
Open Source Initiative
855 El Camino Real, Suite 13A, #270, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Educational and advocacy group that backs adoption of nonproprietary software; also serves as a licensing body for Open-Source Definition compliant software.