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  • Gerrit Eicker 07:00 on 13. September 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , , ,   

    Tech Companies: Cooperating with Governments 

    Tech companies see cooperating with governments as a necessity; http://eicker.at/CR

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:00 on 18. August 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , , , ,   

    Profit vs. Ethics? 

    How do corporate leaders drive for profit while ethically meeting the needs of communities and citizens? http://eicker.at/CR

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:00 on 15. August 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , Kill Switch, , Technological Responsibility,   

    Internet Kill Switch 

    Technological responsibility: all governments want a kill switch, just in case; http://eicker.at/CR

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:00 on 9. August 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , , ,   

    Complex Technical Systems 

    It’s a complicated world and complex technical systems are rapidly evolving; http://eicker.at/CR

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:00 on 6. August 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , , ,   

    Black Hats vs. White Hats 

    Will there always be black hats and Blackwaters, white hats and Wikileaks? http://eicker.at/CR

  • Gerrit Eicker 10:58 on 27. July 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , , , ,   

    Drive for Corporate Social Responsibility? 

    Will the drive for corporate social responsibility (CSR) have moved forward by 2020? http://eicker.at/CR

  • Gerrit Eicker 17:31 on 11. July 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , Corporate Responsibility, , , , , , Repressive Regimes, ,   

    Corporate Responsibility 

    Pew: How far will tech firms go in helping repressive regimes? Future of corporate responsibility: http://eicker.at/CR #CR #CSR

    • Gerrit Eicker 17:31 on 11. July 2012 Permalink | Reply

      In a new Pew Internet/Elon University survey of more than 1,000 Internet experts, researchers, observers and users, respondents were split when it came to imagining how they expect technology firms will perform between now and 2020 when confronted with situations in which some profits can be made only when they follow rules set by authoritarian governments.

      These experts say they hope the drive for corporate social responsibility (CSR) will have moved forward by 2020, but many expect this will not be the case. “Most companies will publicly state that they are doing everything possible to protect citizens while making countless concessions and political decisions that will end up harming citizens,” observed Danah Boyd, senior researcher with Microsoft Research.

      Some survey respondents predicted people will continue to innovate new technological approaches to work around restrictions. Jeffrey Alexander, senior analyst at SRI International, explained, “Far beyond platitudes like ‘don’t be evil,’ the engineers who develop new technologies will have both the inclination and incentive to design them to be resistant to central control and to undermine autocratic behaviors.”

      While about half of survey participants agreed with a statement that by 2020 technology firms “will be expected to abide by a set of norms-for instance, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) citizens being attacked or challenged by their governments,” about four in ten survey participants said they expect most corporations to avoid any future loss of profits by taking “steps to minimize their usefulness as tools for political organizing by dissidents,” thus limiting communication possibilities for those who have been using the Internet to voice opposition or demand rights. Many people said they expect the future to bring a mix of the two scenarios. An anonymous respondent wrote, “Both trends will continue in a kind of yin and yang struggle. There will always be black hats and Blackwaters, and there will always be white hat hackers and Wikileaks.”

      The experts surveyed noted that corporations cannot easily do right by everyone. “It’s a complicated world and these are complex technical systems that are rapidly evolving,” noted Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet und American Life Project, a co-author of the study. “Different global regions continue to be defined by different principles and principals and many of these experts believe that the future will yield mixed and situation-specific results. They were pessimistic about the prospect for any agreement on corporate norms that could always help good guys and always thwart bad guys.”

      Survey respondents were addressing these questions in the fall of 2011. “The question was written with the Arab Spring and the Great Firewall of China in mind, but it was answered at the time of headlines about the Occupy movement and the Bay Area Rapid Transit shutdown of cell service to thwart rumored protests,” said Janna Anderson, director of Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center and study co-author. “This motivated a few respondents to point out that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The wide range of possible outcomes in the answers can be represented by these two opposing statements made by anonymous respondents: 1) ‘The development of the Internet as a complex adaptive system will continue and attempts by governments to control information will be thwarted by complexity.’ 2) ‘All governments will want a kill switch, just in case.’

      Pew: “The moral obligations and competing values of corporations have been debated since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution: How do corporate leaders drive for profit maximization while ethically meeting the needs of communities and citizens? In the age of globalization and worldwide communications revolutions, these issues have taken a new turn. Activists in democratic countries have tried to get governments and companies to halt or limit the sale to authoritarian regimes of technologies that can be used to track, target, jail, or kill dissidents.”

      Pew: “Consumers will respond badly if corporations do not work for the greater good; Internet builders will continue to push for free flows of information. Some respondents believe that the trends both in market behavior by conscientious citizens and in technology development will generally move in directions that help protestors and dissidents. … A large portion of respondents to this survey question did not sign their responses. Some of their answers were relatively optimistic about the scenario in the survey where companies are compelled not to help those who treat workers and dissidents harshly.”

      Pew: “People will find ways to route around bottlenecks and/or innovate new systems that foster rights and freedom. A number of respondents were less focused on specific corporations and their behaviors than they were on the larger forces driving the structure of digital networks. They think people have a decent chance to hack their way around surveillance problems or find alternative tools for sharing information with fellow travelers.”

      Pew: “It’s not easy to do right by everyone; corporate leaders prefer to avoid politics; when possible, they do their best to suit humanitarian goals. … Some of the answers focused on the balancing act that corporations must perform as they try to sell goods and services, follow the rules of governments and norms of local cultures, and burnish their brand reputations. Each of these imperatives can push firms in a different direction.”

      Pew: “Corporate leaders use all of the angles to gain optimal business advantage. Sometimes they follow pro-democratic norms; other times they play by authoritarian rules. They can also set up subsidiaries in messy situations. A more hard-eyed analysis came from respondents who argued that corporate behavior was more guided by opportunism than altruism.”

      Pew: “A corporation’s purpose is to maximize returns. Both businesses and governments leverage technologies to meet their basic goals. Some respondents argued that the basic structure of capitalism is what drives the process of how companies engage governments.”

      Pew: “It’s not a matter of Western nations and their norms vs. authoritarians. ‘Democratic’ countries want to filter, block, and censor the Internet, too. Tech companies see cooperating with governments as a necessity. Some respondents were swift to note that there is not a clean dichotomy between the liberal West and its firms on the one hand and authoritarian regimes in other parts of the world. The interest in monitoring citizen behavior and at times cracking down on communications, they argued, is an instinct of governments in all kinds of societies. Technology companies have their own reasons for complying with leaders who want to exercise control over citizen actions.”

      Pew: “The result by 2020 will be a mix of the scenarios. Companies will bend to governments’ requests in some cases and respond to public sympathy for dissidents and protesters in others. A number of respondents challenged the premise of the scenarios. Most said the likely 2020 outcome will be one of the following: things will remain pretty much the same as they are now; it will be a mix of these scenarios; leaders of democracies are just as likely to ask technology companies to block, censor, and spy as leaders of autocracies.”

      Pew: “Different regions of the world will continue to be defined by different principles and principals, and companies will be forced to adjust to that. Some respondents were focused on the contingent nature of company behavior in different environments and stressed that there were not-yet-clear forces at work in both Western countries and other places that will likely influence how tech companies operate outside their home countries. Things might change when people in the developing world are enabled by technologies to begin to operate on a level playing field. Some respondents say the billions who will benefit might be much more motivated toward economic benefit and survival than by the ideals of civil rights.”

      Pew: “Some warn that corporations could rival governments in influencing the digital future around the globe. A number of respondents took the view that firms, rather than governments, will eventually set the course of how protestors and dissidents might be treated.”

      Pew: “Some asked: How do we inspire freedom-enhancing practices? Through regulation? An organized global movement? Better childrearing? Several respondents mentioned the Global Network Initiative, a non-governmental organization formed in 2008 by a coalition of multinational corporations, nonprofit organizations, and universities to protect individual rights and prevent Internet censorship by authoritarian governments. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are active corporate participants, but survey respondents say it has not yet had significant impact.”

      Pew: “The scenarios presented in this question completely neglect other significant influences, locally, regionally, and globally. There were two other major themes that were most notably sounded by anonymous respondents. The first has to do with the limits and biases of the scenarios that were sketched out in the survey.”

      Pew: “Regulation, guidelines, standards, or principles may come to pass, but they won’t necessarily improve things. A second theme carried in a number of the unsigned answers was that there might not be a way for technology companies or anyone else to promote freedoms in authoritarian places.”

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