Confidentiality - Importance and Ethics

Ethics and Responsibility


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Andrew Blaine
Business Consultant, South Africa

Confidentiality - Importance and Ethics

🔥NEW = Confidentiality Case =
John had just completed 30 years service in the Army and, on retirement aged 49, moved into the Defense Contractor Industry as a consultant.
His last posting, prior to retirement, was in the secret experimental field, developing advanced monitoring systems for use by troops and groups on the battlefield. While working on a new and highly effective monitoring systems, John had identified two different approaches to the challenge.
After lengthy discussion both routes were examined and one was found, after time, to be fatally flawed. As a result, this approach was abandoned. The cost of making this decision was limited because it was made early.
The alternative approach proved so successful that lost funding was recovered. Information on both approaches remained classified.
When John left the Army, he signed documents agreeing to maintain the security of the project.

After some time, working as a consultant, John was approached by the CEO of EyeSpy Electronics. This was a company which designed and developed electronic monitoring equipment for battlefield use. After working with the company for six months without encountering any risk relating to his work in the Army, John was asked to attend a weekend workshop. This workshop was planned to strategise the way forward. The workshop had been underway on the Saturday. At the end of the discussions, John was approached by the CEO.
He was asked to join a small executive group after the day's proceedings had ended. He was expected to give his opinion on a new, highly confidential proposal which had originated from the Engineering Research Centre of the Company.
At this meeting, the Head of Research outlined the following details:
The Company was planning to develop a new avenue of research into the development of vehicle mounted and handheld monitoring systems for use under battlefield conditions;
The initial planning had already been completed, during which two alternative approaches had been identified. The research department had chosen one route and now the project was moving forward to the design phase;

When describing the alternative approaches considered by the Research Group it appeared to John that the research project was almost identical to that on which John had worked on as a soldier. In this instance, however, Eye Spy Electronics had selected to follow the flawed route which his Military Unit had rejected. Detailed consideration of results put forward by the Head of Research confirmed this opinion.
Despite John advising the CEO not to proceed, he was unable to give reasons for this advice based on the security requirements from the Army work. As a result, the CEO was determined to initiate the next step.
The correct development of this programme would be successful and beneficial to troops and commanders were it to proceed along the correct avenue but could well terminally damage Eye Spy Electronics if they progressed on the basis that the CEO had suggested.
⇨ John was as they say: "On the Horns of a Dilemma". What should he do?


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Ethics and Responsibility

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