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When Ethics and IT Collide

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-got-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate dept.

Security 414

jcatcw writes "IT workers have access to confidential data, and they can see what other employees are doing on their computers or the networks. This can put a good worker in a bad predicament. Bryan, the IT director for the U.S. division of German company, discovered an employee using a company computer to view pornography of Asian women and of children. He reported it but the company ignored it. Subsequently the employee was promoted and moved to China to run a manufacturing plant. That was six years ago but Bryan still regrets not going to the FBI. Other IT workers admit using their admin passwords to snoop through company systems. In a Ponemon Institute poll of more than 16,000 U.S. IT practitioners, 62% said they had accessed another person's computer without permission, 50% read confidential or sensitive information without a legitimate reason, and 42% said they had knowingly violated their company's privacy, security or IT policies. But in the absence of a professional code of ethics, companies struggle to keep corporate policies up to date."

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414 comments

Why talk about Ethics (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20573791)

on Slashdot???

Actually, I'd like to see a slashdot poll on this subject.

Re:Why talk about Ethics (4, Insightful)

BiloxiGeek (872377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573921)

A poll [slashdot.org] ? What's the point of that???
5% of us would vote randomly
6% will definitely be stuffing the ballot box
7% Might be stuffing the ballot box

Or worse yet:
17% will choose the Cowboy Neal option

Re:Why talk about Ethics (1)

Apoorv (1019864) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574003)

What? I always voted for the CowboyNeal options because those options are the most sensible ones.

The Biggest Pornographer: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574511)


is this War Criminal [whitehouse.org] .

Why bother keeping corporate policies up to date? (4, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573825)

and 42% said they had knowingly violated their company's privacy, security or IT policies. But in the absence of a professional code of ethics, companies struggle to keep corporate policies up to date."
If 42% are willing to violate the existing policies and risk termination or worse, how would adding a professional code of ethics or keeping corporate policies up to date help? Those same 42% would likely ignore the code of ethics and violate newer policies as well.

Re:Why bother keeping corporate policies up to dat (3, Interesting)

Stormcrow309 (590240) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573987)

If it was like the PMP, CMA, CPA or other professional certifications/licensure that industry requires for certain jobs, then code of ethics violations would mean loss of certifications/licensure. That would weed out all those unethical assholes in IT.

Re:Why bother keeping corporate policies up to dat (5, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574135)

That would weed out all those unethical assholes in IT.

... and send them back to management and marketing where they belong!

Re:Why bother keeping corporate policies up to dat (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574331)

It would also weed out anyone who has an idea the guild doesn't want to see implemented, or who wants to enter to field to compete with whoever's excessively paid.

Are you willing to pay the increasing salaries? (4, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574583)

Because there are already professional certifications available for IT people. Speaking from personal experience they currently make bugger all difference to fees or salaries. If you were to require such certifications then the reduction in supply of IT personnel would cause the salaries of the certified to rocket... As it has for lawyers, doctors, accountants etc.

No? Not willing to pay up? Oh well then, you can't really complain.
 

Re:Why bother keeping corporate policies up to dat (5, Funny)

pegr (46683) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574643)

That would weed out all those unethical assholes in IT.
 
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I can read your email...

Re:Why bother keeping corporate policies up to dat (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574385)

If faced with a tough situation I'd be pretty stuck, however if faced with a tough situation and policy I wouldn't. Personally, if I worked in IT then anything dangerous or in gross violation of policy would be reported (child porn, etc.). Anything personal I would not (e.g. affair, health problems, etc.).

Re:Why bother keeping corporate policies up to dat (1)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574689)

Right on. Look at doctors and lawyers. Their respective codes of ethics are not fool proof either. The person in the article made a conscious choice not to report the possible illegal activities to the local authorities. It would still be up to the moral compass/situation of the individual.

There *is* a code of ethics (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20573829)

The ACM has done at least one thing right:

http://www.acm.org/about/code-of-ethics [acm.org]

Re:There *is* a code of ethics (4, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574069)

I'm not a member, and so do not know the code very well, but looking at the lines of text tells me that this DOES NOT HELP with the moral delema.

Choose one of these two, and break the code both ways:

1.3 Be honest and trustworthy.
1.7 Respect the privacy of others.
1.8 Honor confidentiality.
2.6 Honor contracts, agreements, and assigned responsibilities.
2.8 Access computing and communication resources only when authorized to do so.
3.1 Articulate social responsibilities of members of an organizational unit and encourage full acceptance of those responsibilities.
3.5 Articulate and support policies that protect the dignity of users and others affected by a computing system.
OR

1.1 Contribute to society and human well-being.
1.2 Avoid harm to others.
2.1 Strive to achieve the highest quality, effectiveness and dignity in both the process and products of professional work.
2.3 Know and respect existing laws pertaining to professional work.
3.2 Manage personnel and resources to design and build information systems that enhance the quality of working life.
3.3 Acknowledge and support proper and authorized uses of an organization's computing and communication resources.
Even with this code, you now still have a lose/lose situation...

Re:There *is* a code of ethics (5, Insightful)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574431)

Nice try.

It has been posited by my legal department that IT workers are "mandatory reporters" in cases of cyber crime, child abuse, and terrorism.

This opinion, which I have not seen tested in court, seems exceptionally relevant considering that like teachers (who are often the first to see child abuse), nurses/doctors (the first to treat physical abuse), and police (the first to intervene in domestic abuse) IT people are a first detector for a myriad of crimes.

Thus, based on legal advice, my employees are instructed to notify law enforcement *before* notifying management. (In some states this may actually be law now)

So yes, this code of ethics, as well as the LOPSA Code I linked below- do apply. Assuming of course the IT director isn't one of those management monkeys who likes to bury things "for the good of the company".

Not entirely ethics (1, Insightful)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573835)

Sure, it could be considered unethical to invade one's "privacy" at work by abusing IT privileges, assuming it's done outside of company policy, but that's just the thing...it's only "privacy," not privacy. Why would you be doing anything personal on company time? The answer is, you shouldn't. Getting in trouble for it is an assumed risk.

Re:Not entirely ethics (1, Insightful)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574203)

As a salaried software engineer, I am on call basically 24/7 (and that is often exercised when we push code to production). If I am expected to allow work to invade my personal life, then my personal life will have to invade work from time to time. Fair is fair.

Re:Not entirely ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574339)

Why would you be doing anything personal on company time? The answer is, you shouldn't. Getting in trouble for it is an assumed risk.
I dont know what's more disturbing, the fact you see nothing wrong with them spying on you or that you have no problem with them breaking their own privacy policies. you sir have been brain-washed.

Re:Not entirely ethics (2)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574683)

Do you expect to be able to look at porn while at work because of your company's privacy policy? I'm sorry you're so naive.

Summary has 2 different ethical problems (3, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573839)

1) Not reporting something illegal when discovered in the normal course of business, i.e. whistleblowing. Fear for job safety or simple moral cowardice?

2) Actively doing things that the employee knows are illegal/immoral/unethical. Come on - does a "profession" really need a code of ethics to tell its members not to seek information to which they are not entitled? Maybe they need to reevaluate calling themselves "professionals".

Re:Summary has 2 different ethical problems (2, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574411)

Theoretically, ethics start with your parents. You get your original ethics template from them by watching what they do. You can try to overlay a code of ethics over that, and if the individual is flexible enough it might help reinforce the need for security or override a natural tendency to want to violate the rules, but more often than not a code of ethics is just so many words. It's up to the individual to determine right from wrong in their own mind, based on personal and societal cues. If someone is going to snoop through company data, they're probably going to do it. If they discover something illegal in their snooping, they're going to have to weigh their ethics against the ethics of those perpetrating the illegal action.

Re:Summary has 2 different ethical problems (0)

hauntingthunder (985246) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574599)

does a "profession" really need a code of ethics

yes its one of the distinguishing features of professions compared to blue colar jobs

If you want a good example of corp. ethics... (2, Insightful)

y86 (111726) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573851)

Look at SCO!

Wakka Wakka Wakka!

What's the story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20573867)

What's the discussion to be had? "yes, IT workers are put in a situation where they must mind their ethics" "I agree!"???

Re:What's the story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574269)

Not everyone is a kid in a basement. Some readers actually work in IT and can share interesting examples from their workplace.

So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573881)

You see the logs of some guy looking a kiddie porn and you report it to your HR department.

Where's the ethical dilemma?

If HR does nothing about it, you report it to the FBI.

Where's the ethical dilemma?

And ethical dilemma would be where there were two ethically valid choices with different consequences. If you have two kids and they're both drowning, which one do you save first?

Re:So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (2, Insightful)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573941)

The ethical dilemma is that you shouldn't, ethically, be invading someone's privacy.

We're assuming, of course, that the information was gained through means not allowed by company policy, and that you were just snooping. This is why police have to get warrants to bust into peoples houses and all that.

What privacy? There is no privacy at work. (5, Insightful)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574215)

That's where you are incorrect. There was never any privacy when someone was using their "work" computer for "personal" use. If you think you have any privacy using a computer provided by your employer, using your employer's resources to access the porn, you are mistaken. Courts have held numerous times employers own the equipment and have the right to view (i.e., spy) on your usage.

There was no privacy here, therefore no ethical issue.

Re:What privacy? There is no privacy at work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574457)

How is this insightful, and http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=295453&cid=20573835 [slashdot.org] is a troll?

Re:What privacy? There is no privacy at work. (2, Interesting)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574529)

I don't know where you live, but in my country the employer has to state in advance that usage of PC equipment and internet resources can be spied upon. Otherwise viewing porn at work is not a firing offense.

Re:What privacy? There is no privacy at work. (2, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574631)

I follow your logic, but I still disagree.

Privacy is a rather "slippery" thing. The U.S. Constitution never specifically guarantees anyone a "right" to privacy. Neither to any of the Constitutional amendments. It's more of an "implied" individual right, subject to interpretation. (Just being defined as a "figure in the public eye" can drastically change your ability to sue someone for publishing photos taken of you without your permission, for example.)

Ultimately, I think people only retain the amount of privacy they're willing to fight to maintain.

So yes, in the workplace it's understood that legally, when push comes to shove, the employer will prevail in the courts if they decide to snoop around on the computer assigned to you. That doesn't mean the I.T. staff should go around disrespecting people's privacy on a regular basis, just because "the law lets me do it".

The law says it's ok for me to sit on our mail server and start opening up people's mailboxes, reading the contents of all their email too. As an employee, would you really be ok with that, knowing I was doing that all the time at your business?

I know, as an I.T. admin myself, I'm constantly trying to do my job, while still respecting people's privacy (whether it's legally protected or not). To me, it absolutely comes down to "ethics". I understand that despite what the *law* says, people still feel like the company property assigned to them for their use during the workday is *generally* not subject to snooping. That's why we have logins with passwords on them, and email isn't just collectively sent out under a heading of the company's name. (The Internet connection and mail servers might be owned by your employer, but they don't really own your thoughts, put into writing, in individual emails, right?)

Re:What privacy? There is no privacy at work. (3, Interesting)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574703)

Except of course that you're wrong. Courts have upheld the right to use company phones for occasional personal use. Recently, they have ruled simillary for the web or email (I can't remember which). I also don't ever recall a court allowing a company to spy on telephone call, even though they owned the equipment.

You don't lose your rights when you enter a workplace.

Re:What privacy? There is no privacy at work. (2, Insightful)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574733)

Yes, there is no personal privacy for junk on corporate computers. The more interesting issue is when IT accesses machines that are limited-access. For example, take the Personnel Dept (I refuse to use the insulting term HR) and its database of employees' salaries, home addresses, background checks, etc. That info clearly is not for view by IT members, regardless of their root privs. The difference here is that an employee gives info to Personnel with the understanding that it is not for general dissemination, as opposed to the company's right to look at anything that is on the employee's desktop machine.

Re:So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (1)

kevmatic (1133523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574301)

Did he violate that person's privacy? Really?

Did he look at this pervert's computer?

The answer, of course, is no, he didn't. He looked at the company's computer. Which means he didn't invade his privacy at all. The question is whether or not the COMPANY authorizes him to do that to workstations that aren't assigned to him.

People have this illusion of ownership over the equipment they use every day at work. It's not your computer, lathe, or whatever. People think its theirs until it breaks.

Re:So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20573957)

The fat one. Ehehehehehe...

Re:So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574233)

No way dude! You save the skinny one, because the fat one has more natural buoyancy and could use the excercise :P

Re:So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574067)

If it isn't your job to snoop on the activities of your fellow employees, I'd say it would be a dilemma.

Re:So where is the "ethical dilemma"? (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574261)

The article is missing some bits that are of interest here.

Was the employee German or it was all happening in the USA? If the employee was German, was the policy compliant to German privacy legislation and were the employees correctly informed about it and warned about its enforcement as required by German (and EU) legislation?

Based on personal experience with Americans rolling out nannyware around Y2K I somehow suspect that none of that was done and if the employee was not in the USA and not American the logs were inadmissible as evidence for an employee tribunal. This was the general state of the industry around Y2K and is still the state in many USA companies operating abroad.

Further to this, I am a great fan of the maxima: do not start a fight unless you bloody well want to finish it. So if the guy raised the alarm at all he should have followed it through. The excuse about slump seems pretty lame to me. A settlement in a constructive dismissal for leaving due to company accepting child porn as normal behaviour would have probably net him more money than his salary all the way through the slump. So I suspect he simply did not have the evidence correctly untainted to be used in Germany in the first place.

It's simple (1, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573897)

It's simple.

All those secrets and all that confidentiality is contrary to ethics. It's an attempt to keep your enemy from making intelligent decisions so you can destroy his capacity to act effectually and take what is his.

The capitalist economic system, with all its little trappings, is about war. That's why Sun Tzus book is one of the top selling books for executives.

It's not ethical to make war on your neighbours. Thus, there are no ethical guidelines for it.

Eventually you become numb. The young call it selling out, the numb call it growing up.

If you want to be ethical, find a way to not participate, and encourage people to live the way you found. If you want to be in business, you better lose the thin skin.

Re:It's simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574029)

Right on man, don't trust anyone over 30!

Re:It's simple (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574063)

You can trust people over 30. But they look more like RMS.

Sociopaths. (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574089)

Sociopaths love being in charge. Arguably, there are quite a few of them in the upper ranks of many organizations.

However, sociopaths do not like competition and the non-sociopaths below them will make quick work of dispensing with any pretenders to the throne. They may not agree with your strategies, but they've read your playbook.

So for the non-megalomaniac, it is probably advisable for success to not be a raging sociopath.

There is no Absence! (4, Informative)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573905)

There is a professional organization, of which I happen to be a member, Called "LOPSA"- "League of Professional System Administrators".

The code of ethics is found here:

http://lopsa.org/CodeOfEthics [lopsa.org]

While my IT department does not require membership in this organization, these rules of ethics are *posted* and violations of those rules are a fireable offense!

Re:There is no Absence! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574243)

While my IT department does not require membership in this organization...

And why would they, since it is just some group of uppety code monkeys with an inflated sense of self value? Get over yourselves.

Re:There is no Absence! (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574373)

What kind of soulless bastard needs a written code of ethics to know what's right and wrong? Who really thinks that snooping around other peoples' data is the right thing to do?

Unless you were raised by wolves, you already know the difference between right and wrong. Looking through someone's email is just as wrong as looking through their postal mail or peeping through their windows. You don't need to take any ethics classes to know that it's wrong.

Re:There is no Absence! (2, Informative)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574551)

Agreed.

But adopting a code like this as departmental "law" does two important things:

1. It puts employees we serve at ease because they have a measuring stick for our conduct. (A copy of the LOPSA code is included in the new employee materials)

2. It gives the IT director leverage to cleanly and efficiently fire workers when ethical mis-steps occur.

You're right: "I" don't need the "code"- but it has good uses.

Re:There is no Absence! (1)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574605)

Thanks for that. It's very helpful.

I think my biggest beef in this business, morality wise, is those that pretend. The whole cocky, know it all, Nick Burns malarkey. I vowed about 6 years ago, that If I didn't know something, I'd admit to it. If I'm not sure what the consequence will be regarding a technical decision, I lay that out for management. It's impossible to know everything.

BS in the IT field is easily perpetrated. Most of what I know is specialty knowledge. It would be easy to make believable stuff up for management. To give them half truths and speculation in order to make myself look better.

I think it's a defense mechanism of sorts, trying to make yourself look smarter than you really are. It's fear of appearing incompetent, desire to wave your big brain around, to compensate for some kind of low self esteem.

Then there is the act of being nothing but contrary and competitive with peers, which is kind of the same psychology. If someone has a good idea, accept it and tell them it's a good idea. Don't be so one-upmanship about everything. If you work with someone smarter or more experienced then you, be grateful and seek their advice.

Pretending might work for a little while, but in the end, you'll be outed as doing a poor job.

Can almost not help it (1)

insanemime (985459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573907)

It is a large temptation to sneak a peek at what people do on their machines. Mostly for chuckles later when you find out bob in accounting is into bondage. But is the risk of finding something that you may have to report to someone worth the chuckle? Most of the time it is not a big deal because this type of discovery is, fortunately, not a common occurance.

When my pay is ethical, I'll worry about the rest (5, Insightful)

cavehobbit (652751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573923)

I have an ethics problem every time I get a paycheck for 40 hours of work when I actually worked 60.

Using company systems for your own needs? heck, the company is alreaady getting 40 grand worth of free overtime. Is that ethical?

Never mind legal, is is ETHICAL?

Re:When my pay is ethical, I'll worry about the re (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574155)

If you have an ethics issue with your current job, you should quit, and find a new job. The last thing you should ever want is to be thought of as a person who will compromise his principles for money.

... OR... you really don't have any sort of ethical problem with being exploited at work and you just wanted to whine about something that you figured people might be sympathetic to.

Re:When my pay is ethical, I'll worry about the re (2, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574315)

It's not uncommon to have a higher ethical obligation to provide food, for, say, a child, which takes precedence over your ethical obligation to quit rather than work unpaid overtime. If the OP is basically incompetent, he may not have any additional job choices which would allow him to fulfill the first obligation in order to satisfy the second.

Re:When my pay is ethical, I'll worry about the re (1)

mauriatm (531406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574357)

I'm curious, since I really do not know your situation. Why would you work for 20 unpaid hours? If they force you, can't you find a better job?

There are either hourly workers or salaried workers, if you're salaried, did not you agree to being paid a fixed amount?

Not sure how your point relates to ethics. It seems as you are doing the compromise in accepting such a situation.

If your argument is that "salaried" situations are unfair, I can agree but I don't know if that is really an issue of ethics either. There will always be jobs where the physical amount worked does not directly equal compensation.

Re:When my pay is ethical, I'll worry about the re (2, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574413)

If I had mod points I'd cite this as insightful. You raise a good point. Salaried employees are paid for 40 hour work week, but average much more office time. Do those employees receive a discount (comptime?) at the end of the year? Most likely not so it is an ethical question to post to the employer.

Now, the other side to that discussion is understanding the that typical salaried employee is not *working* eight hours in the day. Even removing 10 minute breaks and lunch the average time spent actually working is only 3 to 4 hours a day. (I cannot remember the article at the moment). We talk to co-workers, surf the net, stare at the screen, but we do not (nor cannot) produce a full 8 hours of productive effort.

So, the 50 or 60 hours spent in the office may actually add up to 5 or 6 hours of productive work a day still leaving us "short" on the salaried contract of 40 hours paid time. Thus are the workers being ethical?

What is lacking is the 40 hour work week pay structure. It does not fit the information age work place found mainly in development/enginerring shops today. Since I started in my profession many many moons ago I have never understood this mentality of 9 to 5, 40 hours a week. I work on projects. SOmetimes I work better in the early morning, sometimes at night. there are days when my brain is stuff with wool, days when I cannot be stopped. Yet up until recently I would get in my car, drive to a uninspiring cubicle and attempt to think for "The Man" to justify my salary.

Thankfully these days I now work at home, adjust my schedule to fit my personal and professional needs, and still make my project dates. I have a boss who understands how to manage that situation for which I am blessed. At work they block web sites, streaming radio, and even hae a policy on headphones so like a 1984ish nightmare I am to sit and work work work till the whistle blows.

Okay, I digress, but I do feel there is an ethical issue when companies attempt to keep you "working" past 40 hours without some compensation, but we do have to understand that generally we are marking some time during that work day, it is not all production.

Good point!

Re:When my pay is ethical, I'll worry about the re (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574745)

You're not required to find work if you have none to do (for whatever reason). You're required to do work which is assigned to you. That may mean only 10 mins of productive work per day.
 

Absence of a Professional Code of Ethics (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573931)

Yeah, like Lawyers have.

And Doctors, the same who diagnose bogus psychological diseases in children just so they get kickbacks from the drug companies.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. At least most of the IT people aren't DOING anything with the data they collect. Just being nosy.

without permission?!?! (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573937)

Since when does the IT department not have permission to snoop through someone's computers? They're company computers and we have remote viewing tools for a reason. Plus almost all companies have a policy that says that the computers are owned by the company and we can look at anything on them at any time. Even if someone's snooping for a bad reason, it's still a company computer so if they find something questionable or disallowed by company rules then hurray for them and if they find something personal or embarrassing it shouldn't have been on the company computer in the first place. We shouldn't have to sneak around and be all cautious like the network is a minefield of stuff we shouldn't look at when we have jobs to do!

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20573959)

I regularly dump employee backups to my workstation and read through their 'personal' stuff. It's absolutely hilarious. I can't count the times when employees who were fired or quit erased large parts of their hard drives not understanding that everything was archived. That's what got me started. What were they hiding? Some pretty funny shit, it turns out.

75% of all stats are made up on the spot... (3, Insightful)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573975)

I think these numbers are bogus.

I know of people instantly fired for doing such things. There is an unwritten IT code and the vast majority of IT people I have known or ever come in contact with follow it.

Re:75% of all stats are made up on the spot... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574333)

There is an unwritten IT code and the vast majority of IT people I have known or ever come in contact with follow it.

Had you RTFA, you'd know that the whole problem is that the code is unwritten, and therefore everyone has a different interpretation of what is and what isn't acceptable.

Nobody in IT (at least, nobody with half a brain) will openly admit to abusing their privileges. But ask them anonymously and you may well see a different picture.

Re:75% of all stats are made up on the spot... (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574377)

I thought 83.243% of all stats were made up on the spot?

Looking (-1)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 6 years ago | (#20573979)

Sorry to ask, but why simply looking at images of children porn is usually seen as a problem? I'm all for sending to jail those who make such images, those who distribute them for profit, and those who pay for them, since all of these persons are directly or indirectly harming children. But just for looking? This is silly.

Re:Looking (2, Insightful)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574365)

I think the problem here is that most of these sites get paid for clicks / ad-loads. So you actually are contributing to the financial welfare of the hosting site simply by looking. The result may be increased demand for such images.

Re:Looking (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574433)

Sorry to ask, but why simply looking at images of children porn is usually seen as a problem? I'm all for sending to jail those who make such images, those who distribute them for profit, and those who pay for them, since all of these persons are directly or indirectly harming children. But just for looking? This is silly.

Because those who look at them create a demand to produce them.

I faced a quandry (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20573991)

When I was sysadmin for a small company years ago, I discovered shortly after installing ProxyServer in our Exchange machine that the boss (or someone???) had been surfing porn on his machine. I was delicate, mentioning in a private moment that we (sysops) could see exactly what sites had been visited, on which machine, and who was logged in at the time. We never spoke of it again. I later left the company voluntarily, under no duress.

Probably a million stories similar to mine...

Never (almost) (1)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574011)

I would like to say that I -never- looked at anyone's data, all of the times I maintained accounts for people. But I did only once, when I suspected that someone had shared their password with a non-employee and that person was logging into the company (which turned out to be correct). So I guess I can justify my snooping by -their- breach of trust. But I still wish that I had not marred my perfect record, although nobody cares about it but me.

Worrisome (1)

rockhome (97505) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574017)

"62% said they had accessed another person's computer without permission, 50% read confidential or sensitive information without a legitimate reason"

I find it worrisome that such a large percentage of out IT workforce is so cavalier about ethics and privacy. I'll ignore the intentional violations of
security policy because much of they MIGHT be attributed to one-off circumventions in order to get a necessary job done. It is curious that so many would
find snooping such a permissible activity. A professional code of ethics isn't necessary here, these people simply have little ethics at all if they will
"snoop" through private or sensitive information simply because they can.

This just highlights yet another area where our society has lost its moral compass. This isn't merely a problem in IT, and there is no need for a "professional" code of ethics. This is something that all people should share. We shouldn't need a document spelling out "don't go snooping around you neighbour's things for no reason.

Ethics? (1)

Snowtide (989191) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574035)

To quote Judge Dredd "I am the law."

That said in reality it can be a tough decision with many variables to report criminal activity on a user's computer that you administer. Often your superiors will blame you and not the criminal. Two things I have found helpful in my own experience are knowing the politics around the company and talking to an IT savy lawyer. The lawyer can help determine what laws are broken, if any, and how the company computer use policy is writtten. Knowing the politics around the company can help you guess which way the grief is going to roll down hill, on the person misusing the computer, or on you. Study, plan and organize before you say anything.

As a shortcut, ask yourself, what would the BOFH do?

Re:Ethics? (0, Flamebait)

Apoorv (1019864) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574127)

How are you gentlemen? All your privacy is belong to me. You are on way to moral destruction.

Re:Ethics? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574199)

This kind of thing has happened to you? And you talked to an IT lawyer?

You people have weird lives, my friend.

I forget everything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574047)

I never seen it.

Having dealt with the FBI in terms of investigations, they still call me. Not that I don't mind getting scum behind bars but that isn't my job nor will I get paid to 'help' the police do their job. No, I won't testify as I won't get paid. I was never asked to find the illegal activity nor was I ever charged with investigating.

So, if I see anything, I ignore it. 95% of the porn I have seen has been on computers owned and operated by LAWYERS.

Shaun Earsom (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574087)

Shaun Earsom is nothing but a common cocksucker.

Permission? (3, Insightful)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574141)

Violating company policies and snooping is one thing, but employees do not own their computers and staff administering machines do not need permission to access systems.

(Oxy)moronic (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574145)

"Business ethics" is an oxymoron. You're either there to earn money and out-compete everyone else, or there to act ethically. The two don't mix. If you try, someone else will cut that ethics corner and out-compete you, and then the people who own your stock will sue you.

Code of Ethics (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574157)

Just because a company has a code of ethics, that does not mean that other people will follow it. It just means you can fire them if they don't follow the code.

It's a sad state of affairs, that like gossip, confidential information is always the most interesting. No ethics code is going to stop unscrupulous (AKA dishonest) people from snooping in other people's private affairs.

Conflation of different areas (3, Insightful)

PontifexPrimus (576159) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574177)

That is an example of what I like to call "conflation of evils". An action can be
  • morally wrong (going against your own personal conscience)
  • legally wrong (going against codified law)or
  • sinful (going against your religious beliefs)
Watching child pornography is illegal in all relevant legal systems, and not reporting someone to the authorities could be considered a crime of omission or obstruction of justice. It might be sinful, depending on your religion. It is probably considered morally wrong by the majority of people.
The problem I see with the dilemma posed by the article is that he tries to conflate these areas and to get a mental map that divides things neatly into The Right Thing(TM) and The Wrong Thing(TM). I think this approach vastly over-simplifies things; take file-sharing, for instance: many instances are illegal since they break copyright law. Yet I wouldn't think it is immoral, since the laws appear to be unjustly slanted against consumers. I couldn't say how religions see the issue (the closest I could find was a quote from the Bible: "go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor" which seems to speak out against hoarding property), so I won't make a qualified judgement on that.
But it should be clear that this is a complex issue, and people trying to frame it in terms of "right" and "wrong" without specifying the framework they're using makes a good answer almost impossible.

Re:Conflation of different areas (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574405)

There's also:
        * ethically wrong (violating a codified system to which you have agreed, but which is not backed by threat of physical force)

People get that one confused with the other 3 as well.
Ethical can be thought of as polar from legal: You don't agree to abide by the legal system, but you're threatened by physical force if you don't comply.

What can you say.... (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574185)

There has to be somebody with the keys to the Kingdom....even if it's RBAC'd. And sometimes those powers are abused or misused.

What's the next topic for /., people sometimes break laws?

Not me. (4, Insightful)

Zero_DgZ (1047348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574209)

Sure, I have unmitigated access to everything that comes, goes, or happens in my company. And if I don't have access to some particular facet of the boss's operation it's pretty trivial to give myself access. But do I snoop through other employees' email or documents or browsing records or whatever? No. But, admittedly, not because of any particular integrity or high moral standards on my part.

I just don't care. Yeah, it might be nice to intercept early the memo that says I'm going to get canned tomorrow (or whatever) but I have more than enough things on my plate and no time, motivation, or incentive to play Secret Squirrel with other people's stuff. I have news for you: 99.9999% of what happens on a business network is mind numbingly boring. Memos. Transmittals. Materials lists. Spreadsheets. Schedules. Business correspondence so packed with legalese and ass-kissing and meaningless paradigm shifting buzzword bullshit it makes my brain hurt just thinking about it.

If I want to abuse my authority and misappropriate company time and network access, it's easier and less mind-frazzling to just delegate the job to somebody else and go read Slashdot.

Secret Squirrel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574461)

Interestingly, the pizzeria in which I heard some juicy rumors about my CEO's actions in the mens' changing room of the municipal baths has a squirrel as its logo...

Ballmer knows.... (0, Troll)

Apoorv (1019864) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574251)

In a Ponemon Institute poll of more than 16,000 U.S. IT practitioners, 62% said they had accessed another person's computer without permission, 50% read confidential or sensitive information without a legitimate reason, and 42% said they had knowingly violated their company's privacy, security or IT policies.
Does this mean Ballmer knows that Gates watches Lesbian pr0n on his iMac?

I'm surprised it's that low (2, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574289)

IT work outside of the well-paid areas is a breeding ground for discontent. It's thankless, low-paid work where you have to deal with a lot of stupid people. Add on to that that people who go into IT who are ambitious, ethical and hard-working are probably going to be more attracted to the engineering side (software, hardware and network) than the grunt technician work and you have a big problem on your hands.

I have never met a person who works in IT support that I would trust with my personal PC. That's just my experience, but I have known guys who would abuse their access to people's PC to get all sorts of files they shouldn't, which is why I didn't hesitate to believe the Consumerist story about Geek Squad employees abusing their customers in that way.

You know what needs to be done? They ought to be treated like a repairman who is caught going off into a totally unrelated part of the house and rifling through personal belongings. It may not be stealing since they're just copying, but that's the closest thing that we can compare it to.

Trouble keeping plicies up to date? (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574297)

> But in the absence of a professional code of ethics, companies struggle to keep corporate policies up to date."

How hard is that? Every large company I've seen policies for has blanket statements saying something like "don't access stuff you're not authorized to access".
What is not being kept up to date? How much more complicated does it need to get?

They should both be fired (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574307)

The IT guy was accessing the content of transactions, presumably without authorization. The Porn fiend was using company equipment for, again presuambly, unauthorized and perhaps illegal purposes.

Some companies don't feel the need to actually lay out a code of ethics, but I can't think of a single boss that doesn't understand the importance of "improper use of company equipment". This isn't a technology issue. This is exactly what it sounds like, an ethics and conduct issue. If the mail room clerks were steaming envelopes open, or sending cocaine by FedEx, it would be exactly the same problem.

women and children.... (1)

Kazrath (822492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574381)

It's interesting how the article tries to make the mind depict the worst possible scenario. For all you know these "naked people" were his wife/child. It could have been bath or breastfeeding photos. You know the same type of family photo Walmart confiscates and calls the police on causing a perfectly normal family undue misconfort socially and legally. I am pretty happy cameras have moved away from film.

What's wrong with asian women? (3, Insightful)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574387)

I can understand the kiddie stuff. But what's wrong with asian women? Last I checked, asian women were beautiful, and there is nothing illegal about viewing them. It may be against company policy, but THAT is not worth calling the FBI over.

I know what the author was trying to get across, and there was plenty of cause to call the FBI, but lumping the asian women with children is just demeaning to the women.

no guidelines left (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574393)

it's every 'man' for itself. no/few musketeers in this badtoll. mostly whoreabull stock markup FraUD felons thinly disguised as hostage taking payper liesense softwar gangsters, who collude with yOUR fearful 'leaders' thinking of more&more cruel & unusual ways to create additional debt & disruption for most of US, while our fellow humans across the water continue to explode/DIE by yOUR hand.

better days ahead?

infactdead corepirate nazis still WAY off track
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, @09:35AM (#20433195)
it's only a matter of time/space/circumstance.

previous post:
mynuts won 'off t(r)opic'???
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, @10:22AM (#20411119)
eye gas you could call this 'weather'?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8004881114 [google.com] [google.com] [google.com] 646406827 [google.com]

be careful, the whack(off)job in the next compartment may be a high RANKing corepirate nazi official.

previous post:
whoreabull corepirate nazi felons planning trips
(Score: mynuts won, robbIE's 'secret' censorship score)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, @12:13PM (#20072457)
in orbit perhaps? we wouldn't want to be within 500 miles of the naykid furor at this power point.

better days ahead?

as in payper liesense hypenosys stock markup FraUD felons are on their way out? what a revolutionary concept.

from previous post: many demand corepirate nazi execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the nazi execrable) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

When the Company asks you to snoop.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574407)

There are two sides to this coin. I've been on the other side, where I was asked to record/intercept emails to/from certain parties, transparently, for security reasons. We suspected they were dealing out trade secrets (and probably were, I never found out).

In this scenario, I believe the Company is perfectly within its right to do so. As I understand the law (and that's gray to me), once a packet enters the Company's network, they own it. Period.

Anyone have something to add to that? It was an odd predicament.

Ethics codes mean absolutely nothing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574423)

Codes of conduct and "business ethics" are rarely, if ever in line with real ethics.

Business ethics = only things that are technically illegal, unlawful, etc.
Ethics = whether things are moral regardless of legality

You most certainly can have "Business Ethics" without having any real Ethics whatsoever.

It's not just IT (3, Interesting)

Merenth (935752) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574429)

This isn't specific to IT, but it happens a lot.
Most newbie Admins poke around in places they shouldn't soon after getting heightened access to the systems.

Almost anyone, in any career where they have access to sensitive information end up abusing it to some degree.
Doctors, Nurses and medical records people read the files of friends or relatives all the time, and that's certainly illegal.

Also, if you come across that kind of stuff in your routine work, you are actually required by law to report it to the police.

After 15+ years in IT, all data looks the same to me.
I can help someone adjust the font on a document and not even notice what it says.

At the end of the day, it's your reflection. (4, Interesting)

UncHellMatt (790153) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574533)

Not too many years ago I worked for a "web startup" (i.e. small company founded by Harvard MBA who smoked lots of weed, drove a VW, and was out to "save the world") as IT manager. As the market tanked, the CEO became more and more concerned for the future of the company and with good reason! We'd gone from regular upper 6 figures per month to less than half that, with three locations whittled down to essentially one and a half. Many employees left for greener pastures. When things REALLY started to go down hill, the CEO asked me to intercept any emails between current and former employees, and then "hinted" that since so many of our clients had their email hosted on our email server, couldn't I do the same with them. I know that, legally, he had the right to get access to current employee email, and any former employee whom he had granted continued use of our email system (not sure on that last bit, IANAL). But asking me to, or suggesting I should allow him to, read client emails was a final straw. While he may have the "legal right" to read employee emails, it left a very bad taste in my mouth. Suggesting I allow him to read client's emails? It was like licking a rat. At the end of the day I had to go home and see myself in the mirror, and I knew that reading other people's personal, private emails was something so abhorrent. (Rimmer: "Lister, that is my private, personal, private diary; full of my personal, private, personal things." Cat: "It's gone public.") Now all that said, at another job, myself and some other IT workers suspected one of the devs of possibly being a pedo. We didn't read his emails, we didn't pour through his computer (which we could easily have done), but we did put google to good use, and at one point we did packet sniff where he was browsing. Was I proud of that? Well, actually yes. If he HAD been looking at kiddie porn, if he HAD been a sexual predator, being a father how could I stand back and not try to do something? It turned out he wasn't a diddler, just... Really really really really creepy. It is a very fine line between "ethical" and "non-ethical", it can be very hard to judge which is which, and everyone will have their own opinions. But in the end you have to live with yourself, and certainly I'm not qualified to decide right and wrong, nor pass judgment. If I had my way, anyone who sold a poorly made curry would be strung up and boiled in oil.

What about ISPs? (1)

Gybrwe666 (1007849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574557)

I think one thing that is really overlooked/not mentioned here is what about employees of ISP's? As a former director of IT at 3 different ISP's in the 90's, there is/was a huge grey area for what is ethical and what is not regarding personal information being stored/used in on an ISP's servers.

Although it is largely a moot point today, at my ISP's we had shell servers and FTP servers with personal storage. Our AUP made it painfully evident that those servers belonged to us, and that the user had no privacy or expectation of privacy on those systems. Can't tell you how many times I had to deal with an idiot chmod'ing his FTP home directory to 777 and then putting pictures of his wife on it. I even had an employee that we fired because he was sucking down questionable pornography and putting on his 777'ed *WORK* account to download from home. (Plus he was sexually harassing co-workers and co-workers wives...).

We also had the issues of usenet porn to deal with. I had a script that delivered me statistics on the NNTP server, and every single week at least one (if not more) of the top 10 highest volume groups on our servers were child-porn groups. We removed them as fast as we found them, and even had at least 2 subpeona's from the FBI related to child-porn and our shell servers.

Then there were the bounced emails. I'm amazed today how many users we had who had no issues at all sending naked pictures of themselves or their wives to anyone on the Internet. But what really shocked me were how many didn't bother to type in the correct email address and they ended up in our bounced spool. At the time, we had a policy of assisting end users in retrieving emails sent to them incorrectly, which meant I'd end up going through 1300 hundred emails a day sometimes trying to find one for someone that was really important.

We even had an end-user who was subscribed to a porn email list, who would regularly call my help desk when his mail spool got too big (downloading 30mb on a 9600 baud modem...uh huh, that will work, right!) and ask them to go through them and delete the ones he already had.

I'm unaware of any ISP that doesn't state that traffic/information flowing over the Internet, especially their portion of it, is completely private. And at any given ISP, there has to be tens if not hundreds of workers with the ability/access to packets, files, and other ephemra on their network. Its a very fine line between what the ISP owns and what the end-user owns. Just ask the guy who called up asking us to delete a newsgroup (yes, in its entirety, from the internet) after a camera was stolen from his house with pictures of his wife on it and posted to Usenet.

Add to that 802.11, and it gets uglier and uglier.

A code of ethics would be invaluable for 2 reasons: 1) it would give IT professionals the ability to self-police in a sane and rational manner, and 2) it would give the IT community itself a voice in the creation and wording of such policies. I shudder at the thought of a bunch of PHB's and lawyers trying to put together ethics for the IT profession. Leaving the choices presented in these ethical questions/dilemma's to individuals is a bad idea, because everyone has a different personal moral canvas. I just don't see how a 21 year old help desk geek would have the maturity and capability to make the right decisions on what needs to be done. And I'll bet these decisons get faced every day.

Bill

I have never understood the US requirement for ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574581)

a code of Ethics?

I'm British, and here, our ethics are what we are brought up with. That's what being an English Gentleman is all about. When your respondent said:

"It's not ethical to make war on your neighbours. Thus, there are no ethical guidelines for it."

he was going against 2000 years of European history. There certainly are ethics in war, assuming war is fought between gentlemen. I can remember sitting in an IT Security government working party, and hearing the US representative actually propose that if schools gave lessons in IT ethics no one would write viruses!

I think this US requirement for written rules, as opposed to the European idea of working to an unwritten code derived from a historical upbringing, is a major difference between our cultures, and one which is rarely appreciated. It's what we mean when we say that Americans lack 'culture'.
           

Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574625)

If you have morals and intelligence, you usually don't need ethics. The trouble is, there are a lot of amoral and immoral sociopaths who don't know the difference between right and wrong, and morons who can't figure it out, either. And codes of ethics that are occasionally beyond reason and sometimes in themselves immoral; the one cited in the blurb, for instance, where ethics prevented someone from snitching on a child molester.

In the IT profession I'd say there are fewer morons than sociopaths or psychopaths, although I'll grant that most morons, sociopaths, and psychopaths are in the board room. [mcgrew.info]

-mcgrew

Not getting involved is always safest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574639)

Devil's advocate time...

OK, so let's say you run into some data on an executive's PC at work that indicates they're siphoning off some money for themselves. Or that a product they make is known to be defective and dangerous. Do you:

a) Run and tell the SEC/CPSC?
b) Tell your boss?
c) Just let it go?

I say (c) is the best choice for you personally. Why?

Choice (a) will rain down hellfire on the company. As soon as it hits Yahoo Finance, the day traders will drop the company's stock price by 25%. Even an unfounded tip on a stock board can crater a stock's price. The entire IT department will be outsourced to some other country to save costs. You will most likely be out of a job.

Choice (b) may feel good in the short run, but might get you branded a troublemaker. You'll most likely have to change jobs because of this if you ever want a raise again.

Choice (c) is unethical, yes, but safe for you. Even if it's found out later on, you won't be the one they subpoena for the court cases. Plus, you get to keep your job until the inevitable mess happens.

Think about it this way...no one is truly ethical anymore. Everyone's got their dirty laundry--and it's best to keep silent if you want to keep your sanity. You can bet the executives and board members of most companies aren't acting ethically 100% of the time.

Never report anything if you want your job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574651)


Take me for example, so far I've been layed off twice for being honest. I'm a contractor so they can do this easily in the UK. :

1) Found a colleague stealing equipment, I was walked off site and given 2 months notice. (nice financial bonus)

2) Colleague was using other people's credentials to log into major health care systems WITHOUT the user's permission. Reported and.. guess what, 2 days later walked off site and a months notice

It just doesn't pay to be honest. Management are too scared of looking like fools.

Both Ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574663)

Posting as AC for reasons that will become obvious shortly...

1) One day the CFO grabbed me, and had me help him with a printing problem. The document he couldn't print was a spreadsheet with the current salaries for the entire IT staff. He never thought twice about having me sit down in front of it to work on the problem. The only thing that really shocked me was that for such a small company, and even smaller IT shop, they were paying the IT director over $100k.

2) Then later at the same company they were making some changes in the organization. They wanted some of us to move to another city, while others would be shown the door. I was offered a position in the new city, but wasn't that happy with the compensation. So I snooped through Exchange, and found out that I wasn't being compensated commensurately with the other people who were also offered jobs. So I turned them down.

These would be the only times I've had ethical "issues" during my career. At least giant ones. And I feel really bad about #2. Honestly I do. The thin rationalization that I have is that it was in my best interests to know what I found out. It bothered me so much that I ended up being way to loyal to my next employer, to my detriment. But that's karma for ya.

Sometimes it's part of the job.. (1)

GuyinVA (707456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574675)

My last job my primary responsability was as an e-mail admin. Because of SEC regulations we had to keep every piece of e-mail that came in, including personal e-mail used on the corporate system. We had an anti-spam filter in place to keep down the number of spam messages that get archived to keep the volume low(er). Part of my job was to monitor it to reduce false positives, figure out why they got caught, adjust the filters, and remonitor. So I had to read e-mails that get caught. I saw no moral problem doing it and occassionaly coming accross a personal e-mail with profanity, or sexually explicit material. Depending on the recipiant, I'd give them a hard time about it. but I never went in just for the heck of it...

Sort of depends on what this means... (2, Interesting)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20574685)

view pornography of Asian women and of children.
Does it mean;

- Asian women, men in porn
- Asian children in porn

Or, does it mean;

- generic Asian porn
- generic pictures of kids in NON porn situations like one might run across if one were looking into culture of the far east.

You can like Asian women and seek out that sort of porn without liking Asian children in porn.

There is a HUGE difference between porn at work (a common thing) and KIDDIE porn at work. One is just something you can get fired for. The other is a felony.

The phrasing in the summary seems to imply the latter is what is going on, in which case you need to check your morals at the door and adopt whatever the company says is OK. (And that seems to be that a bit o-boobies searching is fine since the HR department didn't do anything about it.)

Just because YOU don't like porn of adults, doesn't mean you need to be bugging the FBI about it. If it was real child porn YOU ALREADY COMMITTED A CRIME and acted immorally by not going to the cops with the information.

Know your place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20574717)

IT workers need to know their place. They are not the moral and ethical police, judging what crosses their networks. They are to simply solve problems, install software, and pull cable. IT people don't own the infrastructure, the company does. It's not Joe-Cablepullers job to snoop desktops or read email.

If and ONLY if they come up against something blatently obvious (ie: porn screensaver, confidential documents being emailed, etc), should they have some sway. but ACTIVELY snooping, sorry joe-cablepuller, windows-reinstaller, and router-rebooter, thats not your job.
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