Confidentiality - Importance and Ethics

Ethics and Responsibility

Forum
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?

  Anonymous
 

Response to This Confidentiality Case

Yes, John is on the horns of dilemma. In making literal analogy of this case, John is not supposed to forget his commit...

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Dealing with a Confidentiality Issue

One thing John could do is to approach his former employer (the military) and ask if they agree to make an exception for...

  Anonymous
 

John's Possible Step to Take

John is definitely in a dilemma; the best course of action is to highlight that his experience as an army man gives him ...

  kenneth
Manager, Australia
 

CEO Should Have Trusted John

The CEO should have trusted John and followed his advice. Why he would go against it despite not been given the reasons ...

  Bernice A
Ghana
 

New- Confidentiality Case

@Anonymous: Exactly, irrespective of the dilemma John finds himself, he should be loyal to the ethics of being a soldier...

  Kamal Hajj
Director, Qatar
 

Confidentiality Always Has an Expiry Date

I believe that most of the previous answers are very theoretical and not realistic. Confidentiality on a specific topic ...

  Warren Miller, CPA, CFA
Strategy Consultant, United States
 

I Disagree

@Kamal Hajj: I couldn't disagree more. In my less-than-humble opinion, you're completely wrong. You have obviously never...

  Kamal Hajj
Director, Qatar
 

Every Opinion Matters

@Warren Miller, CPA, CFA: Thank you for your honest opinion, and yes I have not served nor will I in any army. However, ...

  Andrew Blaine
Business Consultant, South Africa
 

Military Confidentiality

@Jaap de Jonge: My experience would advise against approaching the military. They are not as open minded or sympathetic ...

  ken young
Manager, United States
 

Confidentiality and Being True to Yourself

Thanks ya'll for the great replies... I have a different take. Being true to yourself is the struggle here. John agreed ...

  Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Military Could Have Prepared Their Personnel

Whether in military or otherwise... John shouldn't reveal the secret. But in a world of distractions which satisfy ones ...

  Gera
Teacher, Kenya
 

Confidentiality Should Have a Limit

Keeping things confidential is not just to keep one's solemn promise; it is for a reason. If one sees a higher level of ...

  Andrew Blaine
Business Consultant, South Africa
 

Military Responsibility

@Srinivas: The Military does - break confidentiality and you go to prison after a lengthy and unpleasant courts martial....

  Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Preventing that Confidentiality is Breached

@Andrew Blaine: Was curious whether there is a preventative mechanism in order that confidentiality is maintained....

 

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