What Is Computer Ethics?

police car

Ethics is relative… This is a story from the 2008 era. I was staff in Clearwater, Florida.

We had “Staff member guidelines” and the first point was about computers. The basic idea was that it was expressly forbidden to have any computer online on the territory of the base, at work or home, in Starbucks or at the beach.

It was even more forbidden to go onto Facebook, or any other social network.

It was (and still is) forbidden to read anything negative about Scientology.

How Did They Enforce This?

I secretly had an internet connection in my room. First there was an open wi-fi from a neighboring property, but then all these stray wi-fis suddenly became password protected. I purchased a wi-fi hot spot from WalMart. I kept my laptop hidden.

One day I went home after work. I found a note that basically said that my computer was taken for a “routine inspection”.

The laptop was missing for an entire week, as Security was “overloaded” checking computers. They would literally search the rooms for laptops, iTouches and any similar devices, collect them and check their drives.

And the check was really thorough. In addition to checking the browsing history, they would also use a criminal investigation software to check the hard drive for any deleted internet files.

I received a several page knowledge report about all the social media sites I visited, like Twitter, LinkedIn, just like I had committed an incredibly serious crime…

The procedure was to receive an ethics interview on the e-meter. Then there was a for one had to complete called”Computer Out-Ethics Routing Form”. The handling usually included lowered ethics conditions and amends to Security “for the amount of time they had to spend” on these.

Needless to say, staff hated these rules. They would go to Starbucks and anywhere else to get internet access. Yes, they had a lot of work policing this…

A friend of mine told me one day that his computer had been taken. He said he felt so “violated”.

Above The Law

If you think it over, no one has a right to search through your belongings like that. Even the police would need a search warrant… But Security just has the divine right to do so.

A few years later this procedure was dropped, I am not sure why. The ethics interviews still kept going as a high priority action for any suspects.

Staff Internet

And later on the “Staff Internet” was born. This consisted of 3 computers in the crew lounge (meant for several hundred staff). There was a main menu, and it had categories like “Online banking”, “Shopping”, etc. We were able to access sites like Amazon, Bank of America, SunTrust. Etc., a total of about 40-50 sites. We couldn’t do Google search.

There was also a “staff email,” and all incoming e-mails had to go through Security, and this Security Guard would read all the incoming e-mails. If there was a foreign language e-mail, he would find a person who spoke that language and the e-mail was translated. I must add to their merit that mostly you could get your e-mails within 24 hours. However if you had to verify a bank account where the code expired in 15 minutes, you were screwed…

Then this entire internet system was exported to the Freewinds.

Later on the Clearwater system was upgraded to a high-speed system where only certain sites were blocked. This has actually became quite human. However they forgot to tell the Freewinds, where the same system remained in use…

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