Technology, Big Data, and Ethics

Martin, K. 2016. Data Aggregators, Big Data, and Responsibility Online- Who is tracking us online and should they stop? The Information Society, 32(1): 51-63. 

The goal of this paper is to examine the strategic choices of firms collecting consumer data online and to identify the roles and obligations of the actors within the current network of online tracking. In doing so, the focus shifts from placing the onus on individuals to make an informed choice to justifying the roles and responsibilities of firms when gathering, aggregating, and using consumers’ interests or behavior online.

Martin, K. 2015. Ethical Issues in the Big Data IndustryMIS Quarterly Executive. Presentation click here.

Big Data combines information from diverse sources to create knowledge, make better predictions and tailor services. This article analyzes Big Data as an industry, not a technology, and identifies the ethical issues it faces. These issues arise from reselling consumers’ data to the secondary market for Big Data. Remedies for the issues are proposed, with the goal of fostering a sustainable Big Data Industry.

Martin, K. Forthcoming. Role of Business in Responsibility to Protect.  Responsibility to Protect and Private Actors.  Cambridge University Press.

The UN’s Responsibility to Protect (R2P) focuses attention on the responsibilities of the global community to intervene and prevent human rights violations. Introduced in 2001and gaining in popularity, the Responsibility to Protect, suggests two sets of responsibilities: “(1) the responsibility of a state to protect its citizens from atrocities, and (2) the responsibility of the international community to prevent and react to massive human rights violations.” ...

This chapter seeks to better understand how private actors can contribute to the prevention, cessation, and aftermath of R2P events such as the violation of human rights. Specifically, I focus on firms in the information and communication technology industry (ICT) such as telecommunication and Internet communication technology who provide products and services normally provided by state actors and that impact the ability of human rights abuses to occur.

The goal of this paper is to develop a framework for the ethical analysis of global information technologies with an understanding of firms’ obligations within R2P. The introduction of Internet and telecommunication technologies to countries with authoritarian governments has facilitated the imprisonment of dissidents and the surveillance of citizens while also empowering users and protestors facing human rights violations. When established information technologies are introduced to new communities, such as when Google introduced their search technology to China or when Twitter was introduced to Iran, new patterns of use prove difficult to analyze. 

Martin, K. 2014. Regulating Code. Book Review. Business Ethics Quarterly, 24(4):  624-627.

In Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age, Ian Brown and Christopher Marsden tackle the governance of Internet technology and examine how technologies interact with regulation, broadly construed, in order to identify “more economically effective and socially just regulation.”

Martin, K. 2013. Ethics Issues in Technology, in 3rd Edition of the Wiley (Blackwell) Encyclopedia of Management – Business Ethics Volume.

Martin, K. 2008. Internet Technologies in China- Insights on the Morally Important Influence of Managers. Journal of Business Ethics 83: 489-501.

Within Science and Technology Studies, much work has been accomplished to identify the moral importance of technology in order to clarify the influence of scientists, technologists, and managers. However, similar studies within business ethics have not kept pace with the nuanced and contextualized study of technology within Science and Technology Studies....

In this article, I analyze current arguments within business ethics as limiting both the moral importance of technology and the influence of managers. As I argue, such assumptions serve to narrow the scope of business ethics in the examination of technology. To reinforce the practical implications of these assumptions and to further illustrated the current arguments, I leverage the recent dialog around U.S. Internet technologies in China. The goal of this article is to broaden that which is morally salient and relevant to business managers and business ethicists in the analysis of technology by highlighting key lessons from seminal STS scholars. This article should be viewed as part of a nascent yet burgeoning dialog between business ethics and Sci- ence and Technology Studies – a dialog that benefits both fields of study.

Martin, K. & Freeman, R.E. 2004. The Separation of Technology and Ethics in Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 53: 353-364.

The purpose of this paper is to draw out and make explicit the assumptions made in the treatment of technology within business ethics. Drawing on the work of Freeman (1994, 2000) on the assumed separation between business and ethics, we propose a similar sepa- ration exists in the current analysis of technology and ethics....

After first identifying and describing the separation thesis assumed in the analysis of technology, we will explore how this assumption manifests itself in the current literature. A different stream of analysis, that of science and technology studies (STS), provides a starting point in understanding the interconnectedness of technology and society. As we will demonstrate, business ethicists are uniquely positioned to analyze the relationship between business, technology, and society. The implications of a more complex and rich definition of ‘technology’ ripple through the analysis of business ethics. Finally, we propose a pragmatic approach to understanding technology and explore the implications of such an approach to technology. This new approach captures the broader understanding of technology advocated by those in STS and allows business ethicists to analyze a broader array of dilemmas and decisions.