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Posts from the ‘Ethics’ Category

Corruption, parliamentary deadlock… Karzai’s impeachment?

Photo credit: NY Times

When I opened my computer this morning and started puttering around my morning news routine: email >> Twitter >> now Google+ >> blogs >> Facebook… Facebook (double-take), I was surprised to find New York Time’s headline staring back at me. “Afghan Parliament debates impeachment of Hamid Karzai“. Could it be? President Hamid Karzai is now facing the very real possibility of impeachment?

My immediate reaction: Really? It’s finally happening.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been nearly five years since my time in Afghanistan. Because of my time there, Afghanistan has always had a special place in my heart — and for my attention, but despite all the news reports that fly towards us from around the world, the true heart of the matter is always hard to gauge unless you’re on the ground. I haven’t been on the ground for nearly five years – so take my opinion with, you know as they say, salt. I’m certainly no analyst or expert.

So with that caveat out of the way – why “finally”?

When Hamid Karzai was first elected into power in 2004, the Afghan nation and the international communities had high hopes. He was the choice candidate for the west, with his iconic dress code and articulate diction, Karzai was famously commented on by then Gucci’s Tom Ford as “the most chic man in the world”. He was also Pashtun, a prominent Afghan tribe from the southern regions like Kandahar and Jalalabad – great as it was expected that he could make big strides in building greater bonds with those regions where the Taliban were known for having a stronghold. Afghanistan was on the brink of change. Progress, development, reconstruction – everyone was excited. Money was pouring in from the international community, and all eyes were watching – none more so than the local Afghan people so hopeful for the bright future ahead of them. Everyone had high hopes. Read more

More from the CRTC: Abandoning truthful broadcast journalism

With the momentum and outrage that has been building up behind the CRTC’s ruling to give our monopoly telecommunication companies the approval to implement usage-based internet billing as of March of this year, another blow to the social fabric of Canadian communications is lurking quietly in its shadow. In this case, the CRTC is trying to ease up on a ban that states that broadcasters “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news“.

How, you might ask?

The CRTC would like to loosen the regulation to only ban “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.” The key operative is found in the word “and”. Namely, “… false or misleading AND that endangers… lives, health or safety of the public.” It’s such a small word and seemingly small amendment, but the consequences are monumental. What this means is that the law only applies to broadcast news that may endanger lives, health or public safety – broadcasters can’t provide false or misleading information within those parameters. Anything else? Fair game… Read more

Apple sued over transmission of personal information by mobile apps

Credit WJS blog

Last week on December 23rd, a lawsuit was filed against Apple for allowing the transfer of personal information through third party iPhone and iPad applications to advertising networks without the consent of the owners of the mobile devices. The complaint was filed by a Jonathan Lalo in a San Jose, California federal court according to reports from Bloomberg.

According to Mr. Lalo’s lawsuit, Apple’s mobile devices are equipped with “identifying devices” that allow advertising networks to track how users use available applications on their devices, which applications, and for how long. The lawsuit further claims that:

“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views”.

Earlier in the month, the Wall Street Journal had also released reports relaying the prevalence of the information some applications are tracking and transmitting about their users. The WSJ had tested 101 applications for the occurrence of information tracking and transmission. What quickly became concerning was how many of the top, most popular apps fall into this category. (For a more detailed breakdown of the apps in question, see the WSJ blog.)

Read more

Harvard study finds youth lack online ethics

Yesterday afternoon, Carrie James, Harvard research director, presented her findings of US youth online behavior around ethics at Mashable’s Social Good Summit. What Carrie found was interesting. Generally speaking, the youth she interviewed seemed to display little to no consideration of ethics in their behavior and interactions online.

This was a strong statement. So what did she mean by online ethics?

Ethics were defined by five areas of study, with a focus on the last one for the presentation: identity, privacy, ownership and authorship, credibility, and participation. Participation was the way youth interacted and behaved online in a way that on the one hand may involve hate speech in social forums and cheating in mass multi-player games, and on the other hand how youth may leverage social sites like Facebook only to circulate funny videos rather than sharing more serious ideas, struggles, and contributing to civic, political, and humanitarian causes. Read more

BP’s oil stained reputation

In the shadow of the worst oil spill the world has ever seen, not suprisingly, since the start of the crisis, BP has been desperately trying to contain what they consider a PR scandal that is as hard to cap as the oil gushing out of their faulty rig. If you haven’t seen it already, below is a video of a CBS news crew being threatened with arrest for trying to capture footage of the impact of the oil spill along the coast of Louisiana.

What’s been the most apparent, however, over the long weeks that have followed is a sheer lack of understanding of the magnitude of the spill, and any sign of true caring. Where once, it was touted as the hopeful leader of sustainability, BP is now the posterchild for greenwashing at its worst – continuing to spend millions on a positive publicity campaign around the oil spill, while failing to make any significant progress in capping the oil that continues to gush by the barrel-load into the ocean. Read more

Everything you should know about ethics, you were taught in kindergarten

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal ethics lately: our personal “way of being” that defines us, our actions, how we approach decisions, and ultimately how we treat others. We talk a lot about corporate social responsibility, but what about our personal social responsibility? What are we doing? How are we behaving? How far do we go?

A situation was shared with me recently, whereby a person’s decision to pursue one option would directly compromise their associate’s position. The relationship between the personal gain for the one was directly tied to the personal loss of the other. In this story, the person chose to proceed anyway. It made me consider what I would do in that circumstance. And it occurred to me that somewhere along the line, with the heightened complexities of the adult world, amongst pressures to perform in a job and provide for a family, some of the most basic principles of interpersonal behavior – and personal ethics – may have been forgotten.

It makes me think – perhaps everything we should know about ethics, we were taught in Kindergarten. We remember the principles of sharing, of playing nice, waiting our turn, being honest, and ultimately, of contributing to tasks, our micro-community and the collective well-being. We would care if something we did hurt Ramona’s feelings, and we would learn to apologize. Obviously, some situations are not so simple, but the same basic principles still apply. Would we teach our children to do as we do? Would we do, say or act in the same way in front of our children and grandchildren as we do away from them? If there’s a question – perhaps it shouldn’t be done. But maybe the problem is we’ve become so practiced at shutting down the voice inside that we no longer hear it – and all we see is what I need, what I want, what I think. And what’s lost are the needs, wants and thoughts of those around us.

Perhaps it’s an over-simplification, but it’s worth considering. Sometimes what the most complex problems need are the simplest of solutions – back to the basics.

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