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Data-Time Inc. is a company which manages databases for a large city in Colorado. Included in these databases is information collected from the citys homeless shelters and free clinics. Specifically, the databases contain personal information of the users of these services over the past 10 years; this includes peoples Social Security numbers and health records.
This data is highly secure and only accessible to the employees of Data-Time Inc. Employees are given a laptop when they are hired which allows them to access the database remotely. This past week, an employee left their laptop in their car, and the car unlocked. The Data-Time laptop was stolen, and the security of the database was compromised.
A majority of the people whose information was compromised are homeless; therefore there is no easy way to contact them in order to alert them of the security breach. During a meeting about the breach, the VP of Operations has suggested to the Director that the company do nothing since it would be virtually impossible to notify all affected individuals. She further stated “since they are homeless, they probably won’t be affected anyhow, and if they are, they’ll never know.” The VP is the Director’s boss, though it’s the responsibility of the Director within his job description to respond to these types of situations.
1. Is there an ethical dilemma in this case? If so, who is experiencing the ethical dilemma, and what, specifically is it?
2. What level of Kohlberg’s ethical development is the VP operating at? Also, which type rationalization is her response demonstrating? Explain.
3. If Data-Time does nothing, which of the four types of corporate response (from notes/text) would this be considered?
4. Describe the pros and cons to doing nothing. Also describe the pros and cons to trying to notify everyone affected.
5. How should Data-Time Inc., in general; and the Director, specifically, manage this breach in security? Is there any accountability on the part of the employee (if so, what/how)? Justify your suggestions.
Adapted from: Bartlett, C. August, 2015. Markkula Center for Applied at Santa Clara University.