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Real facts, conclusions, opinions. Relevant issues, general principles. Illustrates the importance of being Informed and Discerning.

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Presentation on theme: "Real facts, conclusions, opinions. Relevant issues, general principles. Illustrates the importance of being Informed and Discerning."— Presentation transcript:


2 Real facts, conclusions, opinions. Relevant issues, general principles. Illustrates the importance of being Informed and Discerning.

3 Tech discovers porn on dean’s home PC. Tech reports porn to administration. Dean resigns dean-ship, but keeps tenure.

4 This case study: originally developed as part of NSF grant due 97-52792 the basis of a plenary talk given at ISECON 99, and the focus of a Journal of Information Systems Education paper in 2000.

5 Employee rights and responsibilities in using employer computing resources. Employer responsibilities in handling violations of company policies. Rights of privacy and free speech. Standards of professional conduct. Critical-thinking abilities.

6 First impressions are likely to reflect knee-jerk reactions, prejudices, etc. Well-reasoned conclusions should be informed about the facts, and discerning of which facts are relevant

7 Harvard employee discovers, while on the fob, a Harvard employee using Harvard equipment in violation of policies. Should tech keep discovery confidential?

8 Consider summarizing the relevant people / institutions and relationships in a graph. An appropriate analogy should present a similar graph structure.

9 dean tech Harvard PC employs services uses owns Harvard – dean – tech relationships.

10 News articles with titles such as – Do Computer Docs Need a Hippocratic Oath? make their spin on the incident clear. The underlying analogy is attractive, but just how appropriate is it?

11 patientdoctor employs personal service Idealized doctor / patient relationship

12 So a doctor-patient relationship seems to be a poor analogy to reason from. What is a more appropriate analogy?

13 Married, two grown daughters. Ordained Evangelical Lutheran pastor. Dean of Harvard Divinity for 13 years. Established the Center for Study of Values in Public Life. Strong record raising endowment funds.

14 Dean is Harvard employee. Tech is Harvard employee. PC is Harvard property. PC is located in dean’s home office. Dean’s home is Harvard property.

15 Employee does not have legal right to privacy on the company computer. AMA survey: 27% of US firms review employee email, most on random basis.. 21% of companies review stored files.

16 Dean requests more disk, transfer of files. Tech discovers porn in course of work: Image on-screen? Tech opened files? Thousands of images. Porn was legal: no children, no violence. Supervisor asks why upgrade takes time.

17 No inappropriate, obscene, bigoted or abusive material. Computer use related to School’s mission of education, research and public service. Explicit authorization required for private … or non-Harvard uses.

18 In this day and age, I would say that an employee is foolish or naïve who allows information to be stored in his or her computer that he or she does not want the employer to be aware of. C. Cornish, ABA privacy committee

19 pilot doctor airline plane employs uses in work owns Inexact analogy; doctor gives pilot physical persona l service

20 manager tech company file cabinet employs services uses in work owns Better still, teach replacing file cabinet.

21 Tech has responsibilities to: employer / the administration colleagues, students, alumni family society

22 pilot tech airline plane employs services uses in work owns Better analogy, at least in structure.

23 Dean has responsibilities to: employer / the administration colleagues, students, alumni family Society God / Synod of ELC

24 Do any of the professional codes of ethics offer solid guidance to the technician in this incident?

25 Protect the privacy and confidentiality of all information entrusted to me But also Protect the proper interests of my employer at all times.

26 Keep private any confidential information gained in professional work, consistent with … the law. But also Use the property of any employer only in ways properly authorized, and with knowledge and consent.

27 Tech discovered potentially embarrassing medical information (e.g., HIV+)? Should tech keep it confidential? Absolutely.

28 Respect the privacy of others. But also Support proper and authorized uses of an organization’s computing resources.

29 Tech has competing responsibilities: Privacy of what is seen on dean’s PC. Violation of computer use policy. Correctly followed greater responsibility.

30 Dean owned his own pc, and hired a tech from the local computer store? Should tech keep it confidential? Absolutely.

31 Anonymous, unverified, personal email says that the tech is a woman! Does this change your analysis? How?

32 Motivation for non-hostile workplace: The EEOC has brought several lawsuits against companies based on complaints by people who claimed that they saw co-workers viewing or distributing adult- oriented material at work. Technology makes porn easier to access at work

33 A company knew of an employee’s use of porn at work, but did not act. At some point, he emailed photos involving his work computer. His wife sued for negligence on behalf of her daughter. Trial court dismissed, but appeals court reinstated. Employer liable for not stopping computer porn, March 10, 2006

34 The same report sys that the female tech took the story to the reporter because she felt Harvard punished too lightly! Does this change your analysis? How?

35 Motivation for non-hostile workplace: The EEOC alleged that Sierra Aluminum fired a six-year employee after she reported that an assistant manager had viewed pornography on his company computer. The company will pay $200,000 to settle. Technology makes porn easier to access at work

36 But lawsuits occur on both sides: And in a twist, a few lawsuits have been filed by workers who believe they were disciplined unfairly for visiting porn sites on company time. Technology makes porn easier to access at work

37 Protection of pornography is not the purpose of the First Amendment. Rather, it is part of the price of the First Amendment protections. Randall Kennedy's comments are, it seems, closer to the purpose.

38 One female student quotes as saying it was like getting caught with Playboys under the mattress. How accurate is this analogy.

39 Tie for most professional conduct is: the technician (or so you may think). the Harvard President

40 … some women … said they’d be uncomfortable taking his classes when his sabbatical ends in January. T. Trent Gegax, Newsweek Is this a reasonably reaction?

41 Least professional conduct is by: the dean the Boston Globe reporter (?) various commentators.

42 Informed and Discerning - Not easy, but very important.


44 … raises questions about the right to privacy and about punishing people because they have interests in sexual images. Sarah Wunsch, ACLU attorney, Boston Herald, May 20, 1999. Informed and discerning?

45 Reporter (Jim Bandler) is responsible to: society his profession people / institutions covered The newspaper (a for-profit entity) And which did the reporter choose?

46 It was the law school dean, Nominated to Supreme Court, And tech discovers records of anonymous pro bono work for KKK? Tech’s responsibility to society requires making the discovery public.

47 Dean resigns in November. Harvard keeps dean’s porn habit private. Article appears in May 19 Boston Globe. Reporter is James Bandler. Source is? Who really violated the dean’s privacy?

48 … nothing immoral about seeking sexual gratification from pornography per se. … Wholesale revulsion … is an irrational reaction nourished by all sorts of destructive superstitions. Randall Kennedy So is religion a destructive superstition?

49 Harvard President is responsible to: the individuals involved the institution society

50 If this or a future tech felt harassed by the porn, there could be liability on Harvard's part for permitting a hostile workplace

51 Tech discovered the dean had an archive of non-offensive images (e.g., family album) Should the tech report this? What should President do?

52 ELC has policy against pornography. ELC Bishop to meet with the dean; punishment could range from admonition to dismissal from roster of pastors.

53 Harvard President Rudenstine met with a dean who violated Harvard Policies. Violation could call dean’s professional standing (ordination) into question Publicity embarrassing to dean, Harvard. Possible hostile workplace issues. President handled a difficult situation well.

54 Alan Dershowitz said that, though he did not know the details of the case, what [dean] chooses to do … only becomes the University’s concern if it is illegal. Harvard Crimson, May 21, 1999

55 Having a clear and clearly known computer use policy may be essential in defending lawsuits brought by employees disciplined for porn access on company computers.

56 The name of the ex-dean does not appear in this presentation or in the companion article in the Journal of Information Systems Education. Should the dean be identified by name in this presentation? Why / why not?


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