Professional Ethics in a Technological Age | Public Speaker

Technology is teaching all professionals – and their firms – to think differently.  Technology like text messages, social media and so-called “big data” focus greater scrutiny on professional decisions than was true in years gone by.

Accountability for ethical behavior works differently today than it did in the Twentieth Century!

As a public speaker, I am often invited to address professional events under groups like CPA societies, local internal auditors’ associations and local ARMA International chapters (records managers).   A popular topic is ethics.
Right Versus Wrong
 For instance, I spent four hours on the topic when addressing the 2013 annual meeting of Alaska’s Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Many diverse professionals are eager to hear fresh perspectives on ethics because they are required to obtain annual continuing professional education (CPE) credits specifically on the ethical codes that apply to them.

Stories Teach Practical Lessons

I have compiled stories about professionals and business enterprises being surprised about how ethics are applied in this new era of innumerable electronic records.  The many records we create and broadcast in our networked world can be used either to prove that we performed unethically . . . or to disprove allegations of unethical behavior.

Well-educated professionals today are alert to the practical lessons that recent stories have taught about how to stay in compliance with ethics principles as technology changes.  Technology will continue to change, so professionals must be thinking ahead about what will be expected of them in years to come.

Particularly surprising stories center around the ability of digital forensics to recover metadata, or hidden or deleted data – from laptops, mobile phones or obscure corners of the Internet “cloud.”

Electronic Privacy Questions Confound the Ethical Investigator

As technology has advanced, society has become increasingly alarmed about privacy.  Wearable computers (such as lapel-mounted video cameras) and search engines – to name just two examples -- enable individuals to be monitored in ways that are creepy and unprecedented.

Accordingly, digital privacy raises thorny questions for professionals, such as human resources managers, who conduct official, legally-justified investigations into the behavior of individuals such as employees.

SANS Legal 523 Course Teaches Methods to Manage Risk

A good portion of the education in the course I teach at the SANS Institute is devoted to ethics.  The course teaches modern professionals, such as lawyers or forensics investigators, methods for reducing the risk that their work will appear ethically questionable when the work is reviewed by a third party such as a prosecutor or professional licensing board.

Very often a professional can reduce risk by following a rational, deliberative process to analyze and react to ethical pitfalls.  As explained in the SANS law-and-investigations course, detailed, written notes and documentation can help to prove that the professional or his/her firm did in fact follow such a rational, deliberative process.

Please Ask a Question

I thrive on new stories.  They give me material for my blog and my public training presentations.

If you the reader are aware of a good story about ethics in the context of computers, please leave a comment below.  Please tell me the story or point me to it.  Alternatively, use the comment box below to ask a question about business ethics in the Twenty-First Century.

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