IT Ethics Assignment: Ethical Dilemma Faced By Atlassian
Task:Proceed according to the following instructions.
Identify a recent (within the last six (6) months) ethical dilemma or ethically questionable situation relating to ICT that you are familiar with. This situation can be either in the media (for example one you have sourced from a newspaper, or online through social media) or through your workplace.
- If using a workplace example, to maintain confidentiality, do not use real names.
- If you use a media article you must include the link to the media article in the references list of your assignment.
Identify the key ethical issues contained in your chosen case and use the three distinct perspectives of applied ethics including professional, philosophical, sociological/descriptive ethics to analyse the ethical issues involved in the case. The word limit should be between 1400-1500 words. Note: Headings, citations, references and any appendices do not count towards your word limit, but quotations do. At the start of the assignment indicates in brackets the word count of your assignment excluding those items mentioned above.
Include a Reference list at the end of your work, in the correct APA referencing style, corresponding to in-text citations. You must include at least THREE (3) quality academic references (one for each ethical perspective) from different sources. Please note that these references are in addition to those provided to you through this subject (for example, you still must reference, Tavani textbook, the Interact subject lecture notes etc BUT these references cannot be used as one of your three quality academic references from different sources). Only include references that have been cited in the body of your assignment and ones that support what you have presented in your assignment.
This assessment task will assess the following learning outcomes:
- Be able to identify ethical issues related to ICT.
- Be able to assess the implications of ethical problems.
- Be able to critically evaluate solutions to ethical problems.
- Be able to argue consistently and rationally about the moral issues raised by the adoption and use of ICT.
This IT Ethics assignment reviews Ethics as a specific set of moral philosophies that involves systemisation, defence and recommendation of conduct. The above-mentioned conducts are judged on multiple perspectives catering to professional, philosophical and sociological ethics. The present study aims to discuss three perspectives of an ethical dilemma faced by Atlassian, a Sydney-based software company. Though acquisition has taken place with Slack, it has failed to yield desired results. A similar ethical issue is also discussed that includes the data breach by Facebook and its effect on Australian general population.
2. Professional Ethics Perspectives
Professional ethics refers to personal as well as corporate behavioural standards that are presumed by professionals. According to Floridi (2015), professionalism can be defined according to prototype semantics that includes the characteristic job role of a typical profession. In the present scenario, acquisition of intellectual properties of Atlassian’s chatting platforms has given rise to a series of ethical issues in the professional scenario. One of the major issues is lack of scope to meet customer expectations. A similar professional ethics is violated due to accession of Cabridge Analytica, which broke the professional code of conduct applicable on Facebook (Slezak, 2018). Sudden changes in the vending platform of a service without appropriate justification can stagger the growth of a company’s customer base. The IT Ethics assignment investigates Atlassian’s messaging tools, namely HipChat and Stride and how it has been competing against Slack for a long time (Atlassian.com, 2018). Thus, the acquisition has granted a competitive advantage to Slack at a minimal cost.
Figure 1: Resultant issues of breach in professional ethics
(Source: Given by learner)
The acquisition mentioned above has given rise to multiple professional issues, like data security and privacy protection for customers. The change in service platform of Atlassian can give rise to variations in the service provision. Lack of encrypting facilities exposes the information, which has been transmitted over communication channels to unauthorised third party (hackers) (Sampson, & Makela, 2014). Slack is yet to confirm their use of similar encryption facilities, which gives rise to an ethical dilemma of professional perspective. The significance of this issue can be explained by the concept of partial fulfilment, which stresses the obstacles caused by absence of professional features. However, absence of one or more vital characteristics cannot be deemed as an ethical dilemma (Stahl et al. 2014). In the present case, Slack has not yet implemented data encryption that can account for its lack of research and development, as well as resources.
The acquisition can present Slack with an opportunity of using encryption as a part of their service. Lack of implication, in this case, can make the messaging tool susceptible to extrinsic threats. According to Sampson & Makela (2014), customers are also at risk of being exposed to hackers, who can retrieve, modify, remove or use their data for personal gain. Hence the IT Ethics assignment recommends that Atlassian should promote a stable production strategy to fulfil the specific needs and requirements of their customers before handing over the responsibility to Slack. The prevalence of specific theoretical information, as well as practical skills, is also essential for the transmission of skills and knowledge to render appropriate service. The breach in professional ethics in case of Atlassian has given rise to a lack of confidentiality in their services rendered towards customers.
3. Philosophical Ethics Perspective
Philosophical sphere of ethics involves taking decisions that can cater to the sustainable welfare of stakeholders related to a project. In the present case of Atlassian, it can be stated that the company has initiated merging of their business products without prior communication. Lack of employee participation provides ample evidence that Atlassian has not provided appropriate scope to its workers to prepare for a significant organisational change. According to the recent acquisition of two prominent Atlassian messaging tools by Slack, the production houses of the aforementioned communication platforms are to be shut down. More than 400 employees are expected to be laid off, in correspondence to the present agreement (Hawkins, 2018). This has created a widespread damage to the job security of the workers associated with Atlassian.
Figure 2: Resultant issues of breach in philosophical ethics
(Source: Given by learner)
The management of Atlassian have confirmed their decision that has created a major ethical issue in the human resource of the company. This decision has affected multiple workers in key projects of Atlassian and has been further held responsible for the lack of employee motivation. Hawkins (2018) commented that the governing body of Atlassian has presented a sustainable method that involves employee retention by allocating alternative tasks to the employees who are facing layoffs. The retraining announcement has been informed after the issue of a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN), a federal mandate that notifies major layoffs to the Australian government. Overall, lack of communication has given rise to a significant philosophical controversy over ethics. This IT Ethics assignment outlines how Successful organisational change is largely driven by efficient change management that involves extensive communication effort. Organisational change also expresses a need for frequent communication to reduce mistakes during the experience of a change.
The concept of a perfect organisation is considered null. However, it is the ethical duty of Atlassian as one of the largest software organisation in Australia to cater to the needs of their employees. In the present scenario, lack of change management has disabled the scope of previous reallocation of alternative activities to the employees who are associated with production units of HipChat and Stride. Similar issue in philosophical ethics have been discussed in Facebook controversy. Here the breach of data has been readily accessible to a third party, thereby disregarding privacy protection of consumers (Slezak, 2018). Effective communication strategies may have reduced the load of layoff and employee turnover rates in Atlassian. In the present scenario, an appropriate recommendation for Atlassian from a standpoint of philosophical ethics is to realise the significance of employee commitment for its survival in an economic recovery phase.
4. Sociological Ethics Perspectives
Sociological perspective refers ethics to as a set of self-regulatory guidelines to make sustainable decisions. Companies thus establish ethical codes to professionally maintain organisational integrity and expected conduct. Sociological ethics can protect stakeholders’ welfare by providing professionals direction while confronting ethical controversies or liabilities. In the present scenario, sociological perspective of the ethics in Atlassian is caused by the threat to data security by a major change in their client-server database. Acquisition of Atlassian messaging tool by Slack has induced a prominent change in the service platform of the messaging applications. Roberts & Allen (2015) commented that the lack of appropriate encryption method can expose the customers to hacking threat. This can impact the society with degradation in information security of the customers. In the absence of appropriate security, Atlassian allows Slack to compromise privacy and security of their clients.
Figure 3: Resultant issues of breach in sociological ethics
(Source: Given by learner)
In order to retain device security, Atlassian has previously applied encryption to permit administrators for facultative storage and transmission of data through secured pathways. This, in turn, creates an adverse impact on the society due to lack of intellectual property protection (Stahl, Timmermans & Flick, 2017). Similarly, Facebook has created a sociological concern of ethics by providing their data to Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm. An appropriate intervention strategy to ensure the acquisition is done in a safe and ethically sound manner is to perform a thorough analysis of the company protocols. Analysis of Slack, in this case, could have helped Atlassian to determine the gap between capacity of Slack and expectations of existing customers.
Bradley (2017) commented that the services rendered by data encryption can be cost-exhaustive for companies with limited resources in research and development. This is because data encryption is usually based on multiple keys or gates. Stringent security can be ensured with the application of a large number of keys. According to Stahl et al. (2014), the application of a strict security system can further elevate the cost of production and management for data encryption (Stahl et al. 2014) Thus, another ethical issue on the sociological backdrop is that Atlassian has extended financial burden for Slack. Atlassian, being the target company must have faced issues related to production and marketing during the negotiation phases. The disclosure of current organisational operations and future projects can be compartmentalised by Slack as per their capacity. This can give rise to a sense of negation, which adds to the sociological ethics. In addition to this, loss of valued employees has created an adverse impact on their livelihood, which can also be cited as a significant issue in sociological ethics.
Based on the above information, it can be concluded that the underlying ethical complications can hinder organisational growth for Atlassian. The issue can be addressed with the help of a step-by-step analysis of the host and target companies. This systematic appraisal can help the companies to realise and reduce the gap between their capacities and customer expectations. A limitation of the study is its time and budget bound nature. This limitation has hindered the searching capacity of the learner as they could not access restricted articles. Therefore, the present study has attempted to address the critical ethical issues in distinct professional, philosophical and sociological perspectives of professional ethics. The recommendations are also provided for every ethical implication faced by the Atlassian. Overall, this IT Ethics assignment has presented a considerable argument to highlight and rationalise moral issues that are recognised by adoption of ICT.
Bradley, G. (2017). The Good ICT Society: From Theory to Actions. Routledge. Retrieved on 11 Jan 2018 from: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781351865777
Floridi, L. (2015). The Online Manifesto: Being Human in a Hyperconnected Era. Springer Cham Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London. Retrieved on 11 Jan 2018 from: http://188.8.131.52:8080/jspui/bitstream/1/5731/1/The%20Onlife%20Manifesto.pdf
Roberts, L. D., & Allen, P. J. (2015). Exploring ethical issues associated with using online surveys in educational research. Educational Research and Evaluation, 21(2), 95-108. Retrieved on 11 Jan 2018 from: https://espace.curtin.edu.au/bitstream/handle/20.500.11937/35494/230826_230826.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y.
Sampson, J. P., & Makela, J. P. (2014). Ethical issues associated with information and communication technology in counseling and guidance. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 14(1), 135-148. Retrieved on 11 Jan 2018 from: https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu%3A210480/datastream/PDF/view
Stahl, B. C., Eden, G., Jirotka, M., & Coeckelbergh, M. (2014). From computer ethics to responsible research and innovation in ICT: The transition of reference discourses informing ethics-related research in information systems. Information & Management, 51(6), 810-818. Retrieved on 11 Jan 2018 from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037872061400007X
Stahl, B. C., Timmermans, J., & Flick, C. (2017). Ethics of Emerging Information and Communication Technologies On the implementation of responsible research and innovation. Science and Public Policy, 44(3), 369-381. Retrieved on 11 Jan 2018 from: http://bit.ly/2nmGno7
Hawkins, L. (2018) Software maker Atlassian will eliminate 100 jobs at downtown Austin hub, The American Statesman, [Online], Retrieved on 5 Aug 2018 from: https://www.512tech.com/technology/software-maker-atlassian-will-eliminate-100-jobs-downtown-austin-hub/7tRRKukvRvVt8GdW8yD1QN/
Slezak, M. (2018) Facebook data breach: Aussies find out if they were affected by Cambridge Analytica access, ABC News, [Online], Retrieved on 5 Aug 2018 from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-11/australians-caught-up-cambridge-analytica-data-breach/9640998