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Apple and the iPolice

A few months ago, the San Bernardino Shooting, the deadliest terror attack on American soil since 9/11, took place when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik burst into an office party at Farook’s job, armed with semi-automatic weapons and dressed in black ski masks and tactical gear. Sixty-five to seventy bullets ripped through the crowd, seriously injuring 22 civilians and leaving 14 dead. Before being killed in a shootout with the police, the couple posted a message to Facebook pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. In the suspects’ destroyed car, investigators found an iPhone belonging to Farook. The battle between the FBI and Apple over the decryption of this device has brought this incident back into the news.

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Right to Privacy: Advertising in the Modern Age

Chances are, you’ve experienced it, too. You innocently type a word or phrase into Google — “Birkenstocks”, for example. It’s a casual, one-time search to gauge the general retail price for a pair of comfortable sandals. Unfortunately, this search continues to follow you for weeks after as your Facebook ads attempt to show you the lowest prices on Birkenstocks at malls near you while YouTube ads feature Macy’s, a popular department store and footwear retailer (who happens to sell Birkenstocks as well).

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Employee Wellness vs. Privacy in Houston

As Americans continue to top the charts of obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choices, employers around the country are beginning to look for ways to improve the work environment by promoting exercise and other activities that promote employees’ overall health. Many companies are encouraging employees to sign up for online programs that are able to track a person’s exercise and diet, as well as monitor any health changes that may occur in a person’s life. These programs, although beneficial in many ways, have also raised suspicions about the amount of privacy and protection employees who share their information have. Are these online programs and mobile applications able to share personal information about the people using the resources?

An article from Friday, October 2nd by Jay Hancock, discusses the city of Houston and the encouragement of employees to use one of these online wellness companies as a way to track health changes. The privacy agreement that accompanied this partnership was frustrating to many employees who were wary about sharing their person information, as it was unclear as to how much and what information could have been shared with other companies and potentially the public. Although employees were able to opt out of the program, they were then forced to pay an extra $300 per year for medical coverage. This lack of communication about the privacy and protection of information shared with this company sparked concern from several employees and therefore was not widely accepted among the residents of Houston.

The implementation of these wellness-tracking programs argue that it is an efficient and effective way to hold employees accountable for staying healthy. A healthy employee arguably performs to the best of his/her ability because his/her body is being taken care of properly. These programs also help companies interpret the data collected and make changes to the work environment based on the information gathered. As the U.S. continues to become one of the unhealthiest countries in the world, these wellness programs could be the answer to holding people accountable and making Americans healthier people.

Should employees be forced to sign up for wellness programs in order to promote their own health? How much privacy is acceptable for wellness programs to provide to the people who subscribe to their services? Is the implementation of wellness programs in the work place an efficient and ethically sound decision for companies to make based on the unhealthy state of our country?

Is Reddit Run By Angry Warlords?

Reddit is heralded as “The Front Page of the Internet”, but is now coming under increased scrutiny. T.C. Sottek writes.

As Reddit trips over itself trying to contain its stolen nude photo problem, CEO Yishan Wong finally addressed the controversy on Saturday by releasing a remarkably clueless manifesto. Reddit, he wrote, is “not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community.” So, then, what type of government is Reddit? It’s the kind any reasonable person would want to overthrow.

What’s the nude photo problem? During the celebrity nude photo leak, a redditor named “John”, created a sub-reddit to serve as a repository of these nude photos. Reddit refused to take the photos down in the name of Free Speech and not compelling virtuous behavior. When The Washington Post published information about the creator of the sub-reddit in a scathing expose , the redditor screamed privacy violation. Many redditors rallied to John’s defense. Which is why Sottek, says that Reddit’s Government is a failed state. It’s “a weak feudal system that’s actually run by a small group of angry warlords who use “free speech” as a weapon.”

The whole situation raises a host of interesting ethical issues.

  1. Is the value of free-speech so important that people should be entitled to post private, stolen images? (That seems to be the Reddit position)
  2. Did the Washington Post do something ethically wrong when they posted their piece criticizing John and divulging his personal information? (that’s something this article suggests)

Let us know what you think.