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 Privacy has become an ethical issue in modern days.
 About hundred years ago, Ford Motor Company set up a "Sociological
Department" to make sure the workers were leading "clean, sober and
industrious" lives. The company inspectors were authorised to check the bank
accounts, visit the living quarters of the employees and interviewed relatives
about the diet, drinking habits and church attendance. Those workers who failed
to come up to their expectations were dismissed.

Definitions of privacv:
There are three important definitions of privacy.
(a) Warren and Brandeis say that privacy is the right to be left alone. The privacy of
private life has to be protected from unwanted publicity. The right of privacy is the right
to be left alone.
(b) Justice William J. Brennan says that "if the right to privacy means anything, it is the
right of the individual". Privacy is always a claim of individuals. It cannot be identified
with control.
(c) W. A. Parent defines privacy as "the condition of having undocumented personal
knowledge about one possessed by others". Parent suggests only some facts people do
not like to be documented.

 Privacy has a lot of value to an individual.

 Some practices like observing workers with hidden cameras are considered to be
morally objectionable in them.
 Honest workers have nothing to fear from surveillance but it is a violation of the
right of privacy.
 Monitoring and surveillance in the work place affect job satisfaction, dignity and
self esteem of the workers.

` A truck driver with 40 years of experience with the Safeway Company used to
love his job. He said, "You were on your own - no one was looking over your shoulder.
You felt like a human being". When the company installed a computerized monitoring
device, he wanted to retire. He said, "there is no trust, no respect anymore".

Privacy is a sense of personal identity. Lack of privacy can result in mental stress.

Privacy promotes
 a high degree individuality and initiative.
 It promotes freedom of action among the members of society.

According to Kant's ethical theory, privacy promotes autonomy and respect for persons.
Privacy is an essential part of the complex social practice by which the individuals are
recognized with due respect to the individuals.

Emplovee records:
The following are the major issues regarding the employee records.
(a) The kind of information to be collected.
(b) The use of the information by the employer.
(c) The persons within a company who have an accessto the information.
(d) The disclosure of the information to persons outside the company.
(e) The means used to gather information.
(f) The various steps taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of information.
(g) The accessthat employees have to information about themselves in the organisation.

The employers have to maintain accurate and complete files. The employees should have
an access to their own information. The objection to drug tests and polygraph machines is
their unreliable nature. A careless laboratory work can result in false positives. Polygraph
machines are inherently unreliable because they register only bodily responses and not
the mental experience. In 1983, the U.S. office of Technology Assessment concluded that
polygraph testing was useless in preemployment tests.

Business ethics in cyberspace:

In any website, the actions can be tracked, coded and stored. Event the e-mail is not safe.
It can be read, stored and forwarded.

For example, provides a detailed audit trail of computer usage. This
dot com has been installed in many developed countries.
Eblaster, a spying product by Spectorsoft corporation takes a screen of second-by-second
online activity.

E-business privacy tips are listed below:

(a) Review all web forms to make sure they are in line with privacy policy followed in
the industry.
(b) Remove temporary web beacons.
(c) In sensitive pages do not use web beacons.
(d) Use caution when loading images, and other embedded objects.

Privacy issues for the small business:

Privacy is essential to all businesses including small business.

Customer privacy:
The consumers' personal and financial information have to be protected. Then only
customer's confidence can be gained.
Internal privacy:
In small business the employee privacy has to be maintained. Privacy has to be
maintained in the employees' proceedings. All personal records of the employees should
be treated with a high degree of privacy. The managers should understand the importance
of privacy issues in their operations.
Similarly Internet privacy has also become an important issue.

Practical tips for maintaining privacy:

(a) All the employees should be aware of business policy on privacy.
(b) Constant review has to be made on business policy on privacy.
(c) We have to be careful in using secure sites while sending sensitive data via the

 Protecting the privacy of every individual related to our business can promote the
customer and employee confidence.
 Efforts in the area of privacy can promote our business profits in the long run.
 Workplace safety and Insurance Board of the U.S.A. takes privacy seriously.
 It is a custodian of sensitive personal information and confidential business

The employees at all times should respect the privacy of others by:
 Accessing personal information only when it is necessary.
 Applying privacy best practices.

Two types of privacy

There are two types of privacy namely,
 psychological
 physical.

Psychological privacy is the privacy with reference to a person's inner life. It covers
the person's thoughts, personal beliefs andvalues, and feelings and desires.
On the other hand, physical privacy is the privacy related to person's physical
activities. This is because the inner lives of people are revealed by their physical
activities and expressions.

Privacy has a number of protective functions.

 First of all, privacy ensures that others do not acquire information about us.
 Secondly, privacy prevents others from interfering in our plans and programmes.
 Thirdly, people do not want their beliefs to be shaken by encroachment on their
 Fourthly privacy protects individuals without affecting their reputations.

Functions of privacy:
Privacy has a number of enabling functions.
(a) Privacy enables a person to develop ties of friendship, love and trust. Thus intimacy is
promoted among individuals.
(b) Privacy promotes professional relationships. For example the relationship between a
doctor and patient.
(c) Privacy helps a person to sustain distinct social roles. For example, the executive of a
business wants to promote a good social cause without the fear of social criticism.
(d) Privacy helps the customers to keep their interests not known to others.

Only relevant information should be collected from the customers. The customers should
be informed about the information collected. In fact the consent of the customers is an
important part of privacy. The information should be accurate and inaccuracies are to be
Similarly, in the case of employees also, only relevant and required information to be
Employees should be given an opportunity to give consent or not about their lives. The
employer can use ordinary methods of investigation while gathering information about
the employees.
Extraordinary methods include hidden microphones, secret cameras, lie detector tests etc.
are unreasonable and can be used only under extraordinary situations.

Section 'A'
(1) Define privacy. (2) What is customer privacy? (3) What is internal privacy?
Section 'B'
(1) Suggest measures for maintaining privacy. (2) What are the functions of privacy?
Section 'e'
(1) Examine the importance of privacy in a business organisation with reference to
employees and customers.