The world in general has changed considerably over the past 50 years, few areas more so than in the realm of technology. As business technology has expended to become more global, increased security concerns have developed, placing a troublesome thorn in the sides of business and IT managers. Advancements in technology in recent years has enabled an almost instantaneous exchange of large quantities of data between any two points in the world. In order to capitalize on this, many organizations have outsourced ancillary duties to offshore firms. Despite the cost savings often associated with offshoring activities, the risk of higher security related costs can be considerable. First, the increased dependence on electronic data exchange via the internet has led to an increased risk of data becoming compromised, as well as data leakage, due to hackers and other forms of internet crime.
Many hospitals and physicians, for example, offshore the reading of x-rays to certified radiologists in India. Often the information sent with such medical records includes personal sensitive information that if compromised, can place many of these individuals at risk of identity theft and other crimes. From a business perspective, the free flow of information perpetuated by the flattening of the technological landscape can also jeopardize a firm’s trade secrets and intellectual property. The security concerns associated with trade secrets and intellectual property is particularly high in countries that lack strong intellectual property legislation. In such countries, competing domestic firms can effectively steal any and all technologies, even those that are patented or trademarked, that they desire in order to capitalize on the foreign firm’s established competitive advantage. Unfortunately, this security concern will likely persist until universal laws are enacted and enforced throughout the world.
Ethical Concerns of a Flat Technological Landscape
The flattening of the technological landscape has also given way to an increase in ethical concerns. One key ethical concern that has developed as a result involves the monitoring consumer activity. Most major companies have designed and offered their own web sites in recent years to encourage online shopping, and typically use these web sites as a means to gather extensive marketing data and track the purchases and buying behaviors of their customers. Some consumers find this use of technology to be an invasion of privacy, and as such, deem the behavior as unethical. Companies and even the government have also been given the capability to monitor most digital and text based communications, which raises ethical concerns as well. Businesses are now able to monitor the e-mails of their employees, as well as other forms of communication, which makes employees feel highly uncomfortable.
Terrorist activity in the United States prompted the passing of the Patriot Act, which allows the government to monitor Americans in any way they see fit in order to effectively fight the war on terror. The monitoring of communications and personal activity can easily be construed as unethical when such actions are deemed as unnecessary or an abuse of power. Unfortunately the flattening of the technological landscape allows the monitoring of digital and text based communication to continue. A final ethical concern that has become apparent involves content. More specifically, companies have begun to establish rigid guidelines regarding the types of electronic content that the firm can make available. These guidelines are typically designed to avoid the publication of content that can be construed as offensive to one or a group of individuals. This in and of itself is not unethical. Ethical concerns arise when organizations attempt to push these same guidelines onto employees with regards to the personal content they release onto social media sites or other mediums. Many employees compartmentalize their lives into work and personal time. As such, they feel that an employer’s attempt to exert control over their personal life is highly inappropriate and unethical.