Information Technology and Ethics/IT Professionals and Their Relationship
Contractor from Outsourcing service providerEdit
IT Professional, just like other industries, there are all different types of outsourcing service, such as Structured cabling system to application development. Due to the essential nature of, IT industry’s complicated architecture, there are different IT professionals, networks, support desk, hardware, system services, security, infrastructure, internet, and so on. All need to work together just like an orchestra. Enterprises owners are more likely to hire contractors from service providers to save money. However, Contractors are not the employee of the Enterprises, due to different company culture or working habit, there are a lot of ethical problems would arise:
A lot of service providers just provide on-site professional services. However, there is no detailed SLA or service level agreement. For example, the typical on-site service will charge clients per man day. A project should be finished in 100 Man Day. But the service provider may charge the client 200 Man-Day or even more. At the same time, the client may always adjust their project expectation so as to deny pay the service fee. One of my company’s service providers did a project which is not supported by the vendor, Oracle 11g. All these contradictions were caused by no clear SLA. both client and vendor, or service provider, may lose a lot of profits. Some clients want to terminate the SLA or the contract but have no appropriate execution, so the client will give a lot of difficult tasks to the contractors to finish, or refuse the contractor to use the Internet connection, which is very important to their jobs. Some client even asks the contractor to log what he did every minute, such as the following form :
Time Morning | What
9:00 to 9:15 | Job activity debrief
9:15 to 9:30 | Job activity debrief
9:30 to 9:45 | Job activity debrief
Just like a slave or labor.
Service Termination is caused by the project finished, which is expected. Another is caused by a client's financial problem. If the contractor from the service provider has no other client, the contractor may lose his job. Big IT service providers such as TATA, HP or IBM, have a lot of projects, this kind of problem does not exist. Small businesses may be closed due to service Termination. To the side of the client,no need to pay a compensative salary to the contractor, it is not good, ethically. But transfer the cost to the service provider.
Every company has its security policy, such as access card, server account, database access. I remember many years ago, I went to a client’s server room to install the software. The client’s boss asked a staff member to open the door and let me in. Then he left. I found the door in the server room can not open inside. I refused to work and asked whether the client provides me a temporary visitor access card or a staff member accompanies me. It is very dangerous to be locked in the server room. Once on fire, all the doors will be locked and the automatic fire extinguishing device will release a kind of toxic gas. Meanwhile, some contractors changed jobs whereas not returning the access card or the client did not lock the contractor’s account timely, which will lead to information security problems.
IT professions also work with colleagues from other departments. Different business units have different KPI, the same project may have different expectations. Here are some decennia for cross-department CASE 1. As a support engineer, my job is to install software for clients and provide a platinum service for clients for free. Another team from my company, the sales team, committed to the client that the platinum service will be handed over to the client. So the sales asked me to provide the password to the client for the platinum service. I denied the request. Very simply, I can not violate the company’s security policy.
CASE 2. The software we installed has a bug which leads to the server rebooting again and again. The sales consultant noticed the bug will be released next week from the internal website. The sales manager asked me to apply the patch for the client. How can I apply a patch which is not released? I also denied the request.
CASE 3: There is a project manager who will manage the project which may be involved with different teams or business units. Another IT engineer just finished the software installation. The PM asked me to take over his job and it is first priority. After talking to the department manager, I denied the PM’s request. The PM is not my boss.
To sum up, every IT professional should not violate the policy and let his direct boss coordinate with others in the project.
Change job to competitionsEdit
Due to financial problems, an employee may experience no salary increase. He may change his job for a better salary. It is a very common thing to switch jobs to a competitor’s company for IT professions. For a freshman, just graduating from college without any experience, his buddy or senior staff or his boss may teach him a lot of things. The company may demand him a high expectation. Unfortunately, he changed his job and the new employer is the competition of the old employer, even though it is legal does not mean it is ethical. For example, if the employee masters the core technology, the old company may fail in the market.
Xiaolang Zhang who worked for Apple, was arrested by the FBI in 2019, when he was ready to board the flight to China, got the offer of Xiao Peng Car, Xiaolang had the key hardware and software of auto-piloting core technology.
To sum up, this kind of situation should find a solution from a legal perspective. Ethically we can not stop it.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Issues in Ethics: Competition in Professional Practice. https://www.asha.org/practice/ethics/competition-in-professional-practice/
An ex-Apple employee has been charged with stealing autonomous vehicle secrets. (2018, July 10). Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/xiaolang-zhang-apple-autonomous-vehicle-secrets-2018-7?international=true&r=US&IR=T
Gardner, T. M., Stansbury, J., & Hart, D. (2010). The Ethics of Lateral Hiring. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(3), 341–369. https://doi.org/10.5840/beq201020326