Databases Ethics and Privacy

Databases, Ethics, and Privacy
Professionals in Information Technology are under ethical and legal obligations to secure data in the database and protect personal privacy. Technology has become an indispensible asset in marketing; data mining allows companies to gather information about both current and potential customers. Companies can target a specific audience with their advertising message by collecting information (Cannon, 2002). However, protection of privacy is not just ethical, it is also legally obligatory.
As people spend more time connected to the Internet, companies are collecting an increasing amount of data about their clients (Singer, 2011). Privacy policies that outline companies’ intentions concerning the data they collect are posted on nearly every website (Singer, 2011). No one surfing the web is doing so with anonymity (Singer, 2011). The lack of privacy on the Internet and concerning data mining is considered a violation of civil liberties and the public’s right to privacy (Singer, 2011).
Concern recently has risen in conjunction with people’s right to privacy and health care. Pharmaceutical companies are struggling to gain access to patients’ medical records to deliver targeted advertising based on medical history. Although pharmaceutical companies’ access to patient medical history is an extreme violation of privacy, the issue of releasing personal information to companies for marketing purposes is still under debate because of the ethical obligation to protect privacy of individuals (Singer, 2011).
Ethics may not be laws and laws may not be ethical, but IT professionals are responsible for enabling companies to conduct business with legal limitations and to make ethical and legal decisions for the greater good of both the organization and clients. Data mining falls into an area of ethical ambiguity; companies view collecting data about current and potential customers as their...