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Current Ethical Issues in Business

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Current Ethical Issue in Business

Big Ben or Big Brother is an article that discusses a major aspect of today's ethical issues in the business world. This ethical issue has to do with invasion of privacy. Each year, the national members and affiliated organizations of Privacy International present the "Big Brother" awards to the government and private sector organizations which have done the most to threaten personal privacy in their countries. "Big Brother" awards are presented to the government agencies, companies and initiatives which have done most to invade personal privacy (Privacy International, n. d.). There are numerous amounts of countries that participate in the ceremonies for these awards, England being one of them.

In this article, the writer is discussing that the small town of Newham, England has more than 240 surveillance cameras; every where citizens look, someone has cameras trained on them, watching his or her every move. That is 240 cameras in Newham alone, in all Britain there are over a million cameras zooming in on the population. A person could be caught on film around 300 times by the time a person gets to where he is going and back home again. The article's author, Underhill (2000), states "the closed-circuit television system may be intrusiveÐ'--but its record blunts any public outrage; Figures suggest that a network of cameras in a town center can reduce crime by 70 percent" (p. 29).

The sheer magnitude of the snooping illuminates fears in the heart of society. The cameras are on parking lots, phone booths, elevators, public toilets, buses, and on all the roads that go into the center of the city. These cameras snap pictures of every citizen including drivers and their registration plates. Technology is so advanced that the Ð''face-recognition software can scan a million faces on its database in a second". This might be the future solution for law enforcement agencies to assist in fighting crime in the 21st century. Lodged in the public memory are the 1993 video pictures of two 10-year-old boys abducting toddler James Bulger from a Liverpool shopping mall. Hours later he was battered to death. The cameras had not prevented his murder--but they did accelerate the killers' arrest (p.29). According to this author, "Britain has no laws on privacy also the British have a sometimes unhealthy belief in the state's wisdom" (p.29). Due to the reduction in crime, the city of Newham and the state of Britain have overwhelming support for extending the camera's gaze and the country thinks that "Big Brother is their best friend, for now" (p.29).

This article is best described by the Utilitarianism theory, which is a goal-based ethical theory that is concerned more with the outcome rather than the intent. The politicians have-based their ideas on the "ultimate good, is the good of the overall society which may indeed require some individual sacrifice" (Adams, 2005 p.2) this sacrifice being privacy. If invading privacy will reduce crime, then the reduction in crime is worth all the criticism. "For the politicians, cost effective solutions have become more important than any hand-writing over privacy" (Underhill, 2000, p.29). The theory also undermines this article in reference to "the tyranny of the majority, in which the majority enjoys life while the minority suffers (Adams, 2005 p.2), because everyone's privacy is being invaded; the criminals as well as the law-abiding citizens. Everyone is treated the same. Is it right for the government to watch a person's every move? People might as well be in prison with cameras focused on them, it is the same feeling, like a germ under a microscope. No one wants to live under a microscope, do they? The British people evidently do. Author Underhill (2000) states, "Every breath they take, someone is watching the Brits. Funny thing: they do not seem to care" (p.29). Is the author sure that the Brits do not mind?

This article could also relate to the rights-based ethical theory or the social contract theory which "has to do with facets of human life and relationships such as legitimate government, justice, and political obligation" (Adams, 2005, p. 3). It is the obligation of the government to protect their citizens and their intent, protecting their citizens, is justified by the outcome of reducing crime. This rights-based theory stresses that "there is to be no social or ethnic or religious prejudice and discrimination" (Adams, 2005, p. 3).

The British government is treating every citizen equally; cameras are focused on all citizens regardless of social, ethnic, or religious status. What is surprising is that Britain has no laws covering the issue of privacy according to this author, Underhill. Whereas here in the United States, we have laws covering at least a few privacy issues, one



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