Digital Ethics

As I’ve previously posted about here, every active user on Facebook is worth around £78 each. That means that members are really worth something to the company from a financial perspective.

The company is selling your information to advertisers but, largely, people seem to be fairly accepting of this rather intrusive behaviour. However, would you rather pay for Facebook and have no advertisements or keep it free and have your data sold to advertisers?

Reuters recently published an article [1] stating that:

The European Commission wants to force companies holding data to allow users to withdraw it from websites, calling it the “right to be forgotten.”

Moreover, the Obama administration in America is “backing legislation to protect the personal data of internet users,” [2]. Federal Trade Commission Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, agrees with the move calling for a more open an ethical stance on tracking. He feels that “consumers should be able to opt out of tracking” and not have their data simply churned out to the highest bidder online.

Surely in this digital age, our data should be kept under lock and key – cared for an considered? It does seem, however, that the reality is something entirely different.

Recently, the iPhone 4 was found to be storing private information on users when they synced their device to a computer [3]. The data itself could be accessed with a simple developer app as it was not encrypted – you can see the app here and, if you have an iPhone 4, can see exactly where you’ve been since you turned the phone on when you bought it [4][5].

Now, is there anywhere you’ve been that you’d prefer others didn’t know about?

The worry is that this data may now be used by private investigators or summoned in court leaving many to ask if this is ethically or morally sound. The video below shows the developers of the tracking application discussing the issue and implications of this new discovery:

Of course, this information was hidden in the terms and conditions so some people may have already been aware that their phone was holding information on where they were but what is your opinion on this development? I’d be really interested to read your views in the comments section below.

References

1. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/17/us-eu-internet-privacy-idUSTRE72G48Z20110317?

2. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/17/us-privacy-obama-idUSTRE72F83U20110317

3. http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/04/how-apple-tracks-your-location-without-your-consent-and-why-it-matters.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

4. http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/

5. http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/04/apple-location-tracking.html

Other useful References

6. http://www.ethicsscoreboard.com/list/facebook.html

7. http://blog.k1v1n.com/2009/02/facebooks-ethics.html

8. http://www.darden.virginia.edu/corporate-ethics/pdf/Facebook%20_A_business_ethics-case_bri-1006a.pdf

9. http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/18632/digital-ethics-we-need-to-move-way-beyond-privacy/

10. http://web20guru.wikispaces.com/Digital+Ethics

11. http://webupon.com/social-networks/your-face-on-facebook-privacy-and-ethical-implications/

12. http://www.inquisitr.com/100702/is-evidence-gathered-from-social-media-the-future-of-litigation/

13. http://www.neowin.net/news/main/10/01/12/facebook-employee-interview-reveals-security-issues

14. http://gregs.tcias.co.uk/2011/04/21/iphone-tracking/

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