Ethics: Trust In IT
Ethics: Trust in IT
As IT professionals, we handle a lot of sensitive information - even if the client does not immediately realize the sensitivity of the data. We are immediately trusted with user credentials to access remote accounts and computers. We often are tasked with creating new accounts, policies, and other IT products that interact with their personal or private data. IT workers are often considered the “security guys” even if that is not always true. People give us an implicit level of clearance into organizations and personal lives. We are constantly in a position where we need to aware of the ethics of sharing other people’s data, with co-workers, friends, or anyone the owner of the data did not intend.
Geek Squad Trust Breach
While the recent news that the FBI is paying Geek Squad to snoop on their customers is very troubling for the industry, this is not something that is exactly new - we as IT professionals are put in a position where there is an unspoken, invisible trust placed in us. As an industry we need to do better to properly handle this burden of trust. This makes it harder (and rightfully so) for clients to trust us, which makes it more difficult to achieve the level of service we are accustomed to delivering. This is bad news for the industry as a whole. A lot of folks don’t realize what they are giving us access to, so we need to understand that we have entered an agreement to protect their privacy even if they would never know it has been breached. Even access to indirect, metadata has a level of trust associated with it. The whole notion of law enforcement paying third party individuals to access information to circumvent legal protections is a whole other discussion and is threatening to any law oriented society.
Third Party Trust
As technology holds an essential role in our lives, as brokers and facilitators of technology we will be in a position to abuse the trust society has placed in us. Imagine a world where the cable/network guy is also a repossession agent, a collections agent, or something of that nature - also remember, these situations tend to disproportionately affect folks who need protections from these predatory behaviours the most. What if phone repair shops encrypted or withheld your device until a parking ticket dispute was dropped?
Relationships are Key in IT
Relationships are our most important resource. Even the appearance of a violation of trust would be devastating to our business. So much of what we do depends on our valuable clients being able to trust us. We are giving access to not only people’s data, but often their businesses and residences - people’s most private information and spaces. We need our clients to understand that even if they do not understand what they are giving us in terms of access and information - we act with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. You knew this had to end with a pitch!
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