Thursday, October 31, 2013
Terry Newell, HuffingtonPost.com; Ethics is Leadership Work: "Pressed in recent days on his reaction to the revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the personal phone calls of the leaders of friendly governments, President Obama remarked that it is obvious that "what we could do is not necessarily what we should do." From a president who launched his first administration with a clarion call for more ethical governance, it's disconcerting that his NSA team missed this core distinction. That distinction is the classic definition of an ethical dilemma. What you can do is not always what you should do - capability is not character. Nor is this a question of what is legal. It does not appear that the NSA did anything illegal. But not everything that is legal is ethical. Jim Crow laws were legal until the 1960s. Male-only job postings in newspapers were legal even longer. But they were not ethical."
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Warily, Schools Watch Students on the Internet: "Now, as students complain, taunt and sometimes cry out for help on social media, educators have more opportunities to monitor students around the clock. And some schools are turning to technology to help them. Several companies offer services to filter and glean what students do on school networks; a few now offer automated tools to comb through off-campus postings for signs of danger. For school officials, this raises new questions about whether they should — or legally can — discipline children for their online outbursts. The problem has taken on new urgency with the case of a 12-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide after classmates relentlessly bullied her online and offline... Educators find themselves needing to balance students’ free speech rights against the dangers children can get into at school and sometimes with the law because of what they say in posts on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Courts have started to weigh in."
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Stop Watching Us: The Video: "StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at https://rally.stopwatching.us. This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications."
Sandra Laville, Guardian; New code of police ethics follows Plebgate: "A tough new code of ethics for the police service will be heralded by the home secretary after three officers at the centre of allegations that they lied to discredit Andrew Mitchell refused repeatedly to apologise to him during an interrogation by MPs. Alex Marshall, the chief executive of the College of Policing, will publish the code – equivalent to a Hippocratic oath for police officers – on Thursday and Theresa May is to mark the event with a speech. The much awaited code is designed to force national standards of honesty and integrity on police officers. It is being published as the reputation of the service was put under the spotlight by the Commons home affairs select committee."
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed; Not-So-Great Expectations: "Politics aside, Slocum’s case and others like it in recent months raise an important question: In the age of social media and smartphones, what expectations – if any – should professors have for privacy for lectures and communications intended for students? Very little, said Slocum – but that’s “an acknowledgement of fact, of the way the Internet works, rather than a normative statement.” Privacy and intellectual property experts agreed, saying that such communications are fair game for students to share. Higher education has a complicated relationship with copyright and other ownership questions, experts said, due to historical concerns about academic freedom. Legally, however, most all of what professors say to students in lectures and in e-mails would pass the "fair use" doctrine test, making it O.K. for students to record, share and comment on even copyrighted material for non-commercial purposes. “All of us have to figure out what our expectations should be in an age of smartphones and the Internet,” said Jessica Litman, a professor of law and information at the University of Michigan who specializes in intellectual property -- professors included."
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Christine Haughney, New York Times; Some News Organizations Decline to Publish Minors’ Names: "The liberal public records laws that have made Florida a helpful destination for media organizations divided journalists this week over the question of whether some public information is too public. On Monday, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office released the names of two girls, ages 12 and 14, charged with a felony in the online bullying related to the suicide in September of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick. Carrie Eleazer, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said that releasing these minors’ names was standard practice for a juvenile “charged with a felony or three or more misdemeanors.” She added that making these names public was simply a result of the broad and open Florida public records laws. “We release juveniles who have been charged with felonies almost every day,” said Ms. Eleazer. But not all news organizations felt comfortable revealing the names."
Lizette Alvarez, New York Times; Felony Counts for 2 in Suicide of Bullied 12-Year-Old: "For the Polk County sheriff’s office, which has been investigating the cyberbullying suicide of a 12-year-old Florida girl, the Facebook comment was impossible to disregard. In Internet shorthand it began “Yes, ik” — I know — “I bullied Rebecca nd she killed herself.” The writer concluded that she didn’t care, using an obscenity to make the point and a heart as a perverse flourish. Five weeks ago, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a seventh grader in Lakeland in central Florida, jumped to her death from an abandoned cement factory silo after enduring a year, on and off, of face-to-face and online bullying... Both were charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony and will be processed through the juvenile court system. Neither had an arrest record."
William C. Rhoden, New York Times; Redskins’ Owner Stubbornly Clings to Wrong Side of History: "[Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's] refusal to change an offensive name is emblematic of our society’s tendency to wrap ourselves in the armor of self-interest regardless of who might be wounded or offended. Sports has historically been a vehicle to bring us together. Increasingly, the enterprise is becoming one more tool of divisiveness. Those of us who are appealing to Snyder’s sense of ethics and morals are barking up the wrong tree. If this were about morality, Snyder would not need surveys and handpicked American Indians to validate his point. He would stand alone on principle. Snyder’s fight is an economic issue, revolving around licensing, marketing and branding. His stridency is based in money, not morality. When you follow your wallet and ignore your conscience, you’re headed for moral bankruptcy."
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Joe Nocera, New York Times; A World Without Privacy: "Dave Eggers’s new novel, “The Circle,” also has three short, Orwellian slogans, and while I have no special insight into whether he consciously modeled “The Circle” on “1984,” I do know that his book could wind up being every bit as prophetic. Eggers’s subject is what the loss of privacy would look like if taken to its logical extreme. His focus is not on government but on the technology companies who invade our privacy on a daily basis. The Circle, you see, is a Silicon Valley company, an evil hybrid of Google, Facebook and Twitter, whose cultures — the freebies, the workaholism, the faux friendliness — Eggers captures with only slight exaggeration. The Circle has enormous power because it has become the primary gateway to the Internet. Thanks to its near-monopoly, it is able to collect reams of data about everyone who uses its services — and many who don’t — data that allows The Circle to track anyone down in a matter of minutes."
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Advocacy group asks conventions to ‘protect our secret identities’; ComicBookResoruces.com, 10/15/13
Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; Advocacy group asks conventions to ‘protect our secret identities’ : "In response to New York Comic Con’s controversial use of attendees’ Twitter accounts to send promotional messages, and the implementation of technology allowing organizers to track individual badges, a staff member for a leading digital-rights group has written an open letter asking all pop-culture conventions to “protect our secret identities.” “You can still have a convention at the cutting edge of culture, without bleeding your attendees’ privacy away,” wrote David Maass, media relations coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The twin issues are linked to radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, implemented by NYCC this year in an effort to clamp down on fraudulent badges and badge-sharing among exhibitors."
Monday, October 14, 2013
Bob Garfield, Guardian; False equivalence: how 'balance' makes the media dangerously dumb: "Let us state this unequivocally: false equivalency – the practice of giving equal media time and space to demonstrably invalid positions for the sake of supposed reportorial balance – is dishonest, pernicious and cowardly."
Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance: "Federal grants of $7 million awarded to this city were meant largely to help thwart terror attacks at its bustling port. But instead, the money is going to a police initiative that will collect and analyze reams of surveillance data from around town — from gunshot-detection sensors in the barrios of East Oakland to license plate readers mounted on police cars patrolling the city’s upscale hills. The new system, scheduled to begin next summer, is the latest example of how cities are compiling and processing large amounts of information, known as big data, for routine law enforcement. And the system underscores how technology has enabled the tracking of people in many aspects of life."
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Alina Tugend, New York Times; Opting to Blow the Whistle or Choosing to Walk Away: "WHISTLE-BLOWERS have been big news lately — from Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, to Edward J. Snowden. Yet, for most people, the question of whether to expose unethical or illegal activities at work doesn’t make headlines or involve state secrets. Stephen Kohn, of the National Whistleblowers Center, says true whistle-blowing is when people report seeing something that is against the law. But that doesn’t make the problem less of a quandary. The question of when to remain quiet and when to speak out — and how to do it — can be extraordinarily difficult no matter what the situation. And while many think of ethics violations as confined to obviously illegal acts, like financial fraud or safety violations, the line often can be much blurrier and, therefore, more difficult to navigate. According to the Ethics Resource Center, a nonprofit research organization, the No. 1 misconduct observed — by a third of 4,800 respondents — was misuse of company time. That was closely followed by abusive behavior and lying to employees. The findings were published in the organization’s 2011 National Business Ethics Survey, which interviewed, on the phone or online, employees in the commercial sector who were employed at least 20 hours a week."
Jan Hoffman, New York Times; Cheating’s Surprising Thrill: "When was the last time you cheated? Not on the soul-scorching magnitude of, say, Bernie Madoff, Lance Armstrong or John Edwards. Just nudge-the-golf-ball cheating. Maybe you rounded up numbers on an expense report. Let your eyes wander during a high-stakes exam. Or copied a friend’s expensive software. And how did you feel afterward? You may recall nervousness, a twinge of guilt. But new research shows that as long as you didn’t think your cheating hurt anyone, you may have felt great. The discomfort you remember feeling then may actually be a response rewritten now by your inner moral authority, your “should” voice. Unethical behavior is increasingly studied by psychologists and management specialists. They want to understand what prompts people to abrogate core values, why cheating appears to be on the rise, and what interventions can be made. To find a powerful tool to turn people toward ethical decisions, many researchers have focused on the guilt that many adults feel after cheating. So some behavioral ethics researchers were startled by a study published recently in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by researchers at the University of Washington, the London Business School, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. The title: “The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior.”"
Thomas Sullivan and Lawrence White, Chronicle of Higher Education; For Faculty Free Speech, the Tide Is Turning: "Those and other cases prompted the AAUP in 2009 to issue a report observing that "the lower federal courts have so far largely ignored the Garcetti majority's reservation, posing the danger that, as First Amendment rights for public employees are narrowed, so too may be the constitutional protection for academic freedom at public institutions, perhaps fatally." In the past two years, however, the tide appears to have turned. Two recent decisions by federal appellate courts explicitly hold that the Garcetti standard does not apply in faculty-free-speech cases... The trend is encouraging. As a legal principle and sound postulate of institutional governance, academic freedom should be deemed to protect the expression of faculty views even when they are deemed by some to be unhelpful or provocatively stated. This is especially compelling given the uniqueness of our universities as marketplaces of ideas where we seek to discover new knowledge and understanding and make it available to others."
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Doctorate furor continues for Fox Chapel Area School District superintendent; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/8/13
Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Doctorate furor continues for Fox Chapel Area School District superintendent: "Legal arguments over whether Fox Chapel Area School District superintendent Anne Stephens must turn her dissertation over to a resident will be made Wednesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. Patricia Weaver of Fox Chapel requested a copy in June after it was disclosed that Ms. Stephens' doctoral degree came from LaSalle University in Mandeville, La., an unaccredited school that was raided in 1996 by the FBI, which claimed it was a diploma mill. Its founder pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion."
Sunday, October 6, 2013
David Segal, New York Times; Mugged by a Mug Shot Online: "It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. In this case, the time was early 2011, when mug-shot Web sites started popping up to turn the most embarrassing photograph of anyone’s life into cash. The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them. But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues that any restriction on booking photographs raises First Amendment issues and impinges on editors’ right to determine what is newsworthy. That right was recently exercised by newspapers and Web sites around the world when the public got its first look at Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard gunman, through a booking photograph from a 2010 arrest."
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane, New York Times; As F.B.I. Pursued Snowden, an E-Mail Service Stood Firm: "On Aug. 8, Mr. Levison closed Lavabit rather than, in his view, betray his promise of secure e-mail to his customers. The move, which he explained in a letter on his Web site, drew fervent support from civil libertarians but was seen by prosecutors as an act of defiance that fell just short of a crime. The full story of what happened to Mr. Levison since May has not previously been told, in part because he was subject to a court’s gag order. But on Wednesday, a federal judge unsealed documents in the case, allowing the tech entrepreneur to speak candidly for the first time about his experiences. He had been summoned to testify to a grand jury in Virginia; forbidden to discuss his case; held in contempt of court and fined $10,000 for handing over his private encryption keys on paper and not in digital form; and, finally, threatened with arrest for saying too much when he shuttered his business. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. said they had no comment beyond what was in the documents. Mr. Levison’s battle to preserve his customers’ privacy comes at a time when Mr. Snowden’s disclosures have ignited a national debate about the proper limits of surveillance and government intrusion into American Internet companies that promise users that their digital communications are secure."