There are many types of ethical issues in telecommunications from concerns about harmful content (sex, violence, nudity, stereotypes, unrealistic body image, consumerism, etc.) to biased political coverage to privacy issues, network neutrality, anticompetitive business practices, unintended consequences of technology, and more. As Professor Plaisance noted in his guest lecture, the goal of ethics is to anticipate ethical issues before they arise, consider the various stakeholders and your duty to each, and reduce the harm as much as possible. Anticipate ethical issues: For example, what are the possible outcomes and side effects of the decision to create and distribute a TV show about vaccinations? A video game about school shootings? A song that celebrates sexual assault? Facial recognition software? A traffic app that can indicate sobriety checkpoints? A social media platform that allows advertising targeted to religion or political beliefs? How likely is each possible outcome? Consider the stakeholders: Audience, clients, investors, coworkers, boss, community, colleagues in your profession, customers/clients who rely on your technology, society, etc. What is your duty to each group? How big is the potential harm to each group? Reduce the harm: The goal is to eliminate all harm, but that is rarely possible. For example, a show about suicide might encourage some viewers to seek help but cause other viewers to attempt suicide.
An encryption app might help dissidents avoid jail but also help criminals escape justice. Are there ways you can reduce the harm as much as possible? When should the public’s “right to know” outweigh an individual’s “right to privacy?” For this assignment, you will choose two articles to discuss from Ethics Module. Choose ONE article from the Technology section and ONE article from the Content section. Imagine that you are the CEO of the company at the center of the controversy. For EACH article answer the following (1-3 paragraphs per question). Please NUMBER your answers and proofread for grammar and spelling mistakes before you submit! 1. What are the harms or concerns related to the controversy? How serious is the harm? Should the company have anticipated this problem or was it unexpected and difficult to foresee? Do the benefits of the technology/content outweigh the harm? (If there are no benefits, then it would be hard to ethically justify a decision that causes harm!) 2. Who are the primary stakeholders that are affected? Does the company have a special obligation or duty to any of these stakeholders? 3. What are at least TWO different actions you could take to reduce the harm? Would either of these actions potentially cause harm to any of your other stakeholders? 4. What action would you recommend? Assuming there would be trade-offs (reduced harm to one group but increased harm or cost for another stakeholder), explain and justify your decision. Note: There is not one “correct” answer to this assignment. The focus of the assignment is your analysis and how thoughtfully you approach the issue, regardless of your ultimate recommendation.