People’s Lives have Become Increasingly Reliant on Digital Media
People’s lives have become increasingly reliant on digital media such as online websites, mobile apps, portals, and social media. The constant connectivity that has resulted from global digitalization has created jobs, simplified communication, and tied people together; however, it has also led to a number of serious issues surrounding privacy. Normal, everyday habits require the disclosure of personal and financial information, and, with the threat of hacking and information theft constantly looming over every online interaction, any corporation without high-level cybersecurity runs the risk of putting their customers’ information in jeopardy. However, after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was deemed by a federal court to have the ability to regulate and punish corporations’ data security failures, the landscape has changed dramatically. The FTC has settled over 60 cases against companies who have failed to take preventive measures to protect consumer’s personal information. In addition, many states have implemented stricter regulations and reporting protocols (Equifax Breach Exposed More Consumer Data Than First Disclosed, 2018).
Arguments in Favor of Non-Disclosure
There are two major arguments that corporations can present in favor of a general non-disclosure approach to hacking incidents, even when they directly affect their customers. First, corporations in the health sector claim to be using the data they have collected to advance the progress of medicine – for instance, to identify individuals likely to suffer from diabetes and offer them preventative care (Hirsch, 2015). This argument presents the corporations as the positive influence in the conversation, seeking to make the best use possible of the data they have collected. From this perspective, it is not worth it to disclose hacking incidents to the public, since that would diminish their market pull and, by proxy, decrease the amount of good they can do in the world. For businesses of all types, collected data offers the ability to become prescient, allowing businesses to analyze trends and statistics to draw conclusions about the next ‘big thing’ or occurrence. Although this is intrinsically tied to marketing, it has also been used by engineering companies to determine when infrastructure refurbishment needs to take place, and by testing, companies to identify students struggling in school, so that they may be provided with resources (Hirsch, 2015). In this way, the corporations defend their social involvement as invariably harmed by hacking reporting.
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The other major argument corporations can make in this case is to claim that customers knew what they were doing when they gave the corporation their personal information. From this perspective, any FTC interference could be considered authoritarian, infringing on the flow of natural capitalism and reducing their ability to make money and gain a client base. By absolving themselves of any deeper responsibility and shifting the blame to the FTC’s involvement, which necessarily draws greater attention to a hacking incident than what might have taken place had the FTC not gotten involved, corporations free themselves of the ‘unfairness’ moral argument-cum-justification that they should install cybersecurity measures for the good of their clients (Solove, 2018). The defense presented in FTC v. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation used a variation on this stance, claiming that the FTC’s authority does not encompass data security; that no fair notice had been given regarding any mandatory data security measures; and that card data specifically does not matter since there is no risk of consumer injury.
The Court’s Reasoning
Despite the Wyndham Worldwide Corporation’s defense, the court eventually ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission after responding to each of the three points presented by the defense. First, the judge rejected the first and third points by citing the fact that Congressional measures complement, rather than contradict, the FTC’s authority over data security. Additionally, other court cases involving the FTC have also confirmed the relationship between the unfairness clause and data security (Hirsch, 2015).
The judge answered the second issue regarding fair notice by agreeing with the FTC that the constantly-evolving nature of hacking prevents a set of rules from being written. He also stated that other cases in the Court of Appeals have upheld the FTC’s authority in matters of data security, regardless of written regulations (Solove, 2018). In summation, the court ruled that the FTC’s mandate is flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.
Child Labor and Cultural Relativism
While countries such as the United States decry child labor and put significant regulations in place to protect children, other countries encourage child labor. Particularly in poorer countries, families encourage their children to work in order to contribute to the family. This is a classic example of cultural relativism.
Cultural relativism refers to the concept that different views, practices, and behaviors should be viewed through the lens of their appropriate culture, rather than through one’s own, which may bring up prejudices (The Business Workshop, Chapter 4, Page 138-140). In other words, it refers to a contrast in perspective, which can clearly be seen in the issue of child labor. When one discusses cultural relativism, ethical relativism must also be considered. Ethical relativism focuses on what a specific culture may consider to be moral or immoral, right or wrong. This has been known to lead to confusion and miscommunication in a business world (Brown, PowerPoint Week 2, Slide 19). Although businesses and factories in Industrial Revolution-era America made significant use of child labor through to the turn of the century, the early 20th century’s sweeping worker reforms put regulations in place to protect children from being overworked and to give them basic rights (Child labor in factories, n.d.). A general wave of populism and the popularity of worker’s rights, coupled with ever-increasing quality of life even among the lower classes, made this progress possible. This can be compared sharply with less developed countries, which still rely on child labor. For poorer families, it is often considered an honor for a business to accept workers of any age. Families also look at work as an opportunity for children to become socialized and accustomed to the working world (Adonteng-Kissi, 2018). In short, this drastic difference in worldview highlights the cultural relativism at the heart of the issue.
If a corporation in a wealthy nation were to seek to hire children under 14, the first major opposing argument would be that, for most branches of work, it is currently illegal. Additionally, even if the hiring of a child were allowed, there would likely be stringent requirements of per-day and per-week hours that would actually cost the business money. It would likely be more efficient and cost-effective to hire a single adult worker instead of a team of child workers. The businesses might choose an argument along the lines of poorer families in less developed countries, claiming that work helps children develop social and practical skills from an early age (Adonteng-Kissi, 2018). They could also advocate for looser regulations, referencing occupations like agriculture, newspapers, and acting, which have fewer rigid requirements.
In general, there are a specific set of regulations and standards that should govern the practice of child labor. First, the amount of time they work should be limited, to allow enough time for education, free time, and rest. There should also be rules in place preventing children from working with dangerous equipment that might be hazardous to their health, or in dangerous locations like mines or factory floors. Children’s ability to produce effective work should be secondary to their physical, mental, and emotional health and development.
- Equifax Breach Exposed More Consumer Data Than First Disclosed. (2018, February 13). Retrieved 8 March 2019 from: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2018/02/13/480357.htm
- Hirsch, D. D. (2015). That’s Unfair! Or is it? Big Data, Discrimination, and the FTC’s
- Unfairness Authority. Retrieved 8 March 2019 from: https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1073&context=klj
- Solove, D. (2018, November 29). FTC Authority to Enforce Data Security: FTC v. Wyndham. Retrieved 8 March 2019, from https://teachprivacy.com/ftc-authority-enforce-data-security-ftc-wyndham-worldwide/
- The Business Ethics Workshop (2012) Washington, DC: The Saylor Foundation. Retrieved 7 March 2019 from: https://learn.umuc.edu/d2l/le/content/347318/viewContent/14264741/View
- Brown, PowerPoint, Week 2, Slide 19
- Child labor in factories. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2019, from https://www2.needham.k12.ma.us/nhs/cur/Baker_00/2002_p7/ak_p7/childlabor.html
- Adonteng-Kissi, O. (2018, July 21). Parental perceptions of child labour and human rights: A comparative study of rural and urban Ghana. Retrieved 8 March 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0145213418302862?via=ihub