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Professional Management Issues : Ethical Dilemmas Experience

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Question:

Discuss about the Professional Management Issues for Ethical Dilemmas Experience.

 

Answer:

Introduction

This report provides a glimpse into the ethical dilemmas experienced by three IT professionals, the descriptions being provided below:

The principle character of this case study is Diane, who is an ICT consultant. Diane had started her career as an independent ICT professional and currently owns a consultancy business that recommends strategies for developing and maintaining Information Systems to business organizations.

The second case study being discussed  in this report revolves around  Max, who currently works at state government department associated with  providing remedial services  to citizens  suffering  from addition  of drugs  and  alcohol.  Max was  instructed  to complete a report that required him to utilize the  personal data of   those  who have utilized the services of the said department and thus  was  provided with the access to the central database  used for  storing such sensitive data.

The third case study revolves around a HCI consultant who had come to realize that one of clients is illegally using a software module patented by some other organization.

Analysis – Mini Case Study 1

Diane had been associated with a project aimed at developing a databases system for a medium sized company. Diane together with her employee had developed the designs of the entire database, besides implementing it. However, the entire implementation process was found to be much costlier than what the client had expected. Thus, the administrative heads of the client organization have started expressing their reluctance in installing the security measure that Diane had recommended to them. Diane had made several attempts to make them understand about  the issues that  the organization  is likely to  face  in case  appropriate security measures are not utilized for ensuring the safety of  the employee data to be  stored  in the said database. But, up till now, she has not been successful in persuading the client to implement effective security measures in the database. 

Legal factors

As reported in the case study, the administrative heads of the client organization are insisting Diane to implement a less effective security system in their database simply being aimed at saving money. On the other hand, Diane is sure of the fact that the incorporation of an effective security system is essential for securing   the sensitive data sets (like that of the personal information of the employees, their medical records, etc) that   would be stored in the database.

 Now, the organizational heads in consideration have the legal obligation for maintaining the privacy of those who work with them. Thus, the legislation mandates them into implementing effective security features in the enterprise database. On the other hand, Diane herself is liable for maintaining the legal rights of all the stakeholders, besides preserving the confidentiality and security of public data. Thus, the responsibility of ensuring the security of all the employee information to be stored in the enterprise database lies on both Diane and her client organization.

 

Professional factors

Diane, as an ICT professional is supposed to abide by all the ethical policies of the Australia Computer Society (as the adherence to the professional code of the ACS is essential for operating as an ICT professional in Australia).

The ACS ICT professional code mandates the following activities for Diane:

Communicate with the stakeholders regarding the possible effects of implementing a less effective security system for securing their personal data.

Understand the perception of those stakeholders who might be affected by the issue that has come to her notice.

Employment and Social factors

 Diane herself operates as an ICT consultant, besides employing several other professionals in her organization. Thus, it is essential that the ACS codes of ethics are adhered to in Diane’s consultancy. In fact, the Diane is well aware of these ethical codes and had been trying to make her clients aware of the fact that the incorporation of less effective security system might lead to leakage of sensitive employee data.

Personal factors

Diane has demonstrated the fact that she is willing to meet all the requirements of the client, besides considering the perspective of the other stakeholders.

Intrinsic factors

The administrative heads of the client organization is not ready to implement the efficient security system recommended by Diane solely due to the fact that the cost  of implementing the database system has already exceeded the amount  that they had estimated.

 

Prioritisation

In the following section of the report, the priorities of the various factors mentioned in the section above have been discussed.

 

Factor

Related Issue

11

 

Legal factor

1. The client organization for whom Diane is working is legally obliged to ensure the security of the information provided by their staff. However, they are unwilling to do the same.

2.  Dian herself might be in a legal contract with her clients that mandates her to complete the project within the time and budget committed to them. However, she is unwilling to implement a less effective security system as demanded by her clients.

22

 

Professional factors

 Diane, being a member of the Australian Computer society is bound to go by their code of ethics, which makes it essential for her to consider the security of all employee information over the cost associated with the project.

33

Employment and Social factors

 

 Diane and her team require abiding by the ACS code of ethics.

44

Intrinsic factor

The cost of the project had already exceeded the initial estimations.

55

6

7

8

9

Personal factors

  Diane herself is willing to provide a solution that would be beneficial to all the stakeholders.

Table 1: Priority List

Decision

The discussions presented in the preceding sections indicates that Diane faces an ethical dilemma regarding the implementation of the database, as even after her repeated attempts  to make her clients aware of  the importance of implementing an effective  security system , the client organization has not agreed to do the same. Thus, it can be said that Diane requires considering her top priorities first: in case adhering to the terms and conditions of her legal contract appears to be her priority, she would have to find and implement the best possible solution available within the budget.

However, in case Diane considers adherence to the ACS code of ethics to be her primary priority, she might eventually have to revoke her contract and deny working on the project anymore.

Analysis – Mini Case Study 2   .

Max was eager to complete the project on time and thus made copies of the data in his USB memory stick. He carried the USB memory stick to his and completed the project, but forgot all about the data and left the memory stick at home.

 

Legal factors

As an employee of the state government department, it lies within the responsibilities of Max to maintain the security of the sensitive user information. Besides this, Max was provided with the access to all the files recorded in the mainframe computer of the agency just for the process of developing the report. However, Max had eventually breached the Australian Privacy Principles through the following activities:

Max downloaded all the service user information available in the mainframe computer and saved the same in his workstation.

Max also made copies of the said information in a USB memory stick and made personal use of the same.

Professional factors

It is evident from the information provided above that Max had demonstrated unprofessional behaviour by misusing the facilities that were provided to him for accessing the mainframe computer of the agency.  Besides this, Max was also not able to complete the report  within his regular working  hours, which  made   him to copy the sensitive  user  information in a USB memory stick, so  that he  could  work on the   same during his leisurely time. However once the report was completed,  he forgot all about  the data  and left the USB memory stick at  his home, thus demonstrating  unprofessional and irresponsible attitude once  again.

Employment and Social factors

As stated in the case study, Max worked at a state government department that provides remedial facilities to people who suffer from drug abuse and/ or alcohol abuse. The files that he had made copies of contain sensitive information like that of the personal information of those people who at some point or other had utilized the services of the said department, along with the treatments that they have undergone.  However, Max  had  forgotten all about these  sensitive information after the report was completed and  had left  the  memory stick at home, without worrying  much about  the security  of the same.  Thus, in case  data  is  leaked in public (from the   memory stick), those citizens  who  had   utilized  the services  of the  department  might have to  face severe social stigma due to their addictions.

Personal factors

 As discussed in the  sections above,  Max  had  risked the security  of the  sensitive information  provided  by   several  citizens  primarily due to  the fact  that  he was  eager   to complete  the entire report within the deadline provided to  him. In fact, he had downloaded the information available on the mainframe computer of his agency so as to ease out his work.

 Thus, it can be said that the entire data record available with the government department faces the risk of leakage just because Max was unable to complete his report within the working hours of the agency.

Intrinsic factors

 The report that Max was working on was supposed to be utilized by the higher officials of the department so as to decide  on  which of the  services should be continued, based  on the success rates  of  the  programs. Max was supposed to make  a detailed report including  the  personal  information  of all  those who had participated in the programs,  along with the criminal  histories of them and the treatment  that they underwent.  

 However,  at  present  entire  project is at  jeopardy due to  the  irresponsible and  unprofessional  behaviour  that  Max  had demonstrated. This is  because,  in case the entire data set  leaks in  public,  it is  less  likely that  the department  would be  able to encourage people  addicted to drugs and  alcohol  to enrol to their remedial programs.

Prioritisation

In the following section of the report, the priorities of the various factors mentioned in the section above have been discussed.

 

Factor

Related Issue

11

Legal factors

 

 Max has  breached  the Australian Privacy Principles as  he not only  had downloaded and   saved the  sensitive  user data  stored in the  enterprise data base of the state  government  department (thereby misusing the access that  he had  been  provided   to the  mainframe computer  of  the department) but has also  made  copies  of the same.

w2

Employment and Social factors

 

     In case the data copied by Max gets leaked in public, the patients whose   information gets released in public would   face immense social stigma.  

33

Professional factors

 

It is worth mentioning that Max had   essentially demonstrated very unprofessional and irresponsible attitude by making copies of the sensitive user data and leaving it behind   unattended.  Beside this, the  very first thing  that had lead to  this entire scenario was  that Max was  unable to  complete  the  entire  report   within  his normal working hours.

 

44

Intrinsic factors

 

 The   primary objective of conducting the entire research has now become jeopardised due to the actions conducted by Max.

55

6

7

Personal factors

 

Max had risked all the user data available to the state government department primarily due to the fact that he wanted to complete   the task within the deadline and thus decided to work at home.

Table 2: Priority List

Decision

 In the light of the discussions made in the section above, it can thus be concluded that the first and foremost action that Max needs to undertake is to make sure that the  information  that was  copied in the USB  memory stick have not  between  leaked. Besides this, Max would also require to delete the files permanently from the USB memory stick and his workstation, so as to prevent any unauthentic utilization of the same in future.

On the other hand, it is  also  being recommended to Max so as to inform the  entire situation  to the higher authorities.

Analysis – Mini Case Study 3

The primary character of the third case study is a HCI consultant who realizes that her current client (A) is unlawfully utilizing a patented module of a rival firm (B, also a former client).

Legal factors

The company A is illegally utilizing the software module that has already   been patented by company B. However, the HCI consultant has legal non-disclosure contract with both the companies, thus generating the dilemma on her part regarding whom to report the issue.

Professional factors

The HCI consultant  is  well  aware  of the fact that company B is making unlawful use of the module patented by company A and  the ACS code  of ethics mandates her to bring it to the notice of both the companies, both being  her clients.

 

Employment and Social factors

The case study does not depict any social or employment factor that might be associated with it.

Personal factors

The HCI consultant has certain professional   responsibility to both her client organizations; however, she is pondering over how to act in a responsible manner.

Intrinsic factors

The HCI consultant in question had come to  recognize the unlawful utilization of  software modules primarily due to the fact  that she  had evaluation  contract with the  companies in consideration.

Prioritisation

 

Factor

Related Issue

11

Legal factors

 

a. Company  A  has breached the Patent law

b. The HCI consultant has legal contracts with both the companies that bar her from discussing the matter with others.

22

Professional factors

 

 The ACS code of ethics mandates the HCI consultant to disclose the breach of the patent law to both the companies, both being her clients.

33

Personal factors

 

The HCI consultant is experiencing a dilemma regarding   whom and how to report the entire incident.

Table 3: Priority List

Decision

In the light of the discussion made in the sections above, it can thus be said that the first step that the HCI consultant requires to undertake at this point in time is to inform the higher management of Company A of the misuse of the patented module, without disclosing the name of the organization that holds the patent.  She should also continue working in accordance to her legal contract with the company. However, he might consider revoking the contract in case the organizational heads continue using the said module.

Discussion

As depicted in the sections above, the legal and professional factors have been considered to be the most important factors, as non  adherence  to  the  legal and professional regulations  might result in severe legal  issues for  all  the  parties  involved   in the   case studies. 

On the other hand, the ACS code of ethics mandates every professional to take into consider the well-being of the general mass while taking any action: thus, this factor has been considered as the third most important factor. The other two factors have been prioritized in  accordance  to their importance  in each case.

 

Conclusions on Analysis

The report provides an in depth discussion on three IT ethical case studies. In the light of the discussions made in the report, we can arrive on the following conclusions:

The legal factors associated with each of the case studies are supported by the professional and ethical rules (the ACS codes of ethics in case of the case studies under consideration).

No ethical dilemma would have arisen in case all the parties associated with each of the case studies mentioned in the report had adhered to the basic legal and professional regulations.

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