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Civil Liberties in War Time

Ethical Questions

1) HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO: Six months ago you accepted a job at Oracle Corporation, the world's largest enterprise software company, as an Information Technology Analyst. As an IT Analyst, you develop and test software for the government that is used to track and covertly search email of suspected criminals. Four months ago, the government started using the latest high tech software that your company has available. Last week, you were reviewing the software, and found a major gliche that was unknown until now. You realized that one of the data codes has a potential to cause "improper capture of data" and furthermore, the potential to violate a citizen's privacy. You tell your supervisor, and he says that the potential for harm does not equate to a definite harm. He also notes, with this knowledge the sophisticated system still has a 79% success rate. Does the 21% failure rate urge you to talk to others in your department despite the risk of losing your job? What percentage of success would make you feel comfortable using the software?

2) HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO: The FBI is currently monitoring all flight schools in Illinois because they have classified information that terrorists are being trained at these locations. They have been monitoring the schools for three months and have found no solid leads or evidence. The citizens are unaware of this surveillance. The threat has not been made public because it would jeopardize their chances of deterring potential attacks. Should the FBI stop and neglect the tip they received from a very reliable source or should they continue for the next month? If the FBI were to publicize this information, would this truly deter attacks or would terrorists simply move to a different facility?

3) Throughout history, the news media has been a powerful force in shaping America. Often times it is hard for the media to strike a balance between informing the public and maintaining the interests of society. One key concern of the media is whether to tell the public information pertaining to potential risks. For example, the media may broadcast that the FBI has issued an alert to stay away from banks and malls. As a result, Americans tend to avoid these locations. In this scenario, the media turns words into actions. Thus, is the media a catalyst for our fears? Is it a catalyst for our being more alert in terms of security? If so, is this a role the media should play? Do you think the media is capable of accurately portraying ethical challenges raised by terrorism? If so, do you believe the US media is currently doing so?