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Ethical Dilemma RE:Kiddie Porn

By gmichaels ·
I run a mobile PC repair service. So I see and work on a lot of home computers. On a recent service call I was asked to change the desktop background image. When I went to change the background image and began clicking on images, kiddie porn started showing up. The client was present and seemed to be genuinely surprised. He explained it must have been left behind by his buddy who had built and worked on the computer from time to time. I could not tell if he was sincere or putting on an act. He asked me to remove it and then scan for any other images on his system. It seemed to be isolated to one folder of about 20 images. Not exactly a huge library. However, it left me feeling uneasy about the whole thing. Where there's smoke there's fire and if it was not his then it was his buddy's. This was not the first time I have found traces of porn on a customers system and at times I have had customers admit to their porn usage after it had screwed up their systems. To me this is no big deal. But this was much different because of the content. With all the incidents happening as of late, I do not want to be responsible for anything that may occur because I did not take action. So, I was wondering what you all would have done if you had come across this? I ended up contacting the authorities but I am concerned about what the backlash may be on me and my business and what I may have gottem myself into.

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I have been wondering that too, Griffon.

by Absolutely In reply to No ethics involved?

My impression is that amcol takes the law to trump ethics, not to ever be subject to ethical analysis, except perhaps by judges, once passed into law. That, to me, is not government of the people and by the people, and thus is unlikely to be government for the people, either.

I have to agree with amcol that the scenario described in the original post is not difficult to judge, but that judgement is specifically rooted in ethics, not separately from it. My dictionary does not include uncertainty, in any degree, in the definition of ethics. It describes ethics as "the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation." Alternate definitions refer to "principles", "values" and "a guiding philosophy". There is no implication that "(e)thics typically involves a judgment call." That would be the case only if one's guiding philosophy was useless in real situations by virtue of omission, vagueness, and impossibility, ie if one's "guiding philosophy" is only a set of rules, perhaps accompanied by fables, with no clearly stated fundamental principle by which unstated rules might be logically derived from fundamental premises.

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Mutual exclusivity

by amcol In reply to I have been wondering tha ...

In a truly civilized society the law of the land and the laws of ethical behavior are in harmonious balance. It shouldn't be an issue of which takes precedence over the other. As an old hippie from the 60's (minus the long hair), although one who's grown increasingly conservative over time, I still maintain that in the event of one contradicting the other it is ethical behavior, NOT the law, that must triumph.

Laws are promulgated by society and are specific to individual societies. Ethics are common among different societies. Take the ultimate expression of ethical behavior, the Ten Commandments. No matter where you live, no matter what your religion, no matter how the laws of your jurisdiction require you to act, those ten statements are common dicta and as such must be given higher authority.

I disagree that the definitions you quote exclude uncertainty. "The discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation." According to whom? Who's to say what is good and what's bad? To what extent are we morally obligated? Ethics is most certainly a judgment call, one based on a common understanding of good behavior and bad behavior but viewed through an individual prism.

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So which side of the hair do you want?

by Absolutely In reply to Mutual exclusivity

It may require a careful reading, but I did not actually say that the dictionary definition of ethics requires that uncertainty be excluded, only that the definition does not necessarily include uncertainty either. In other words, ethics deals with all moral issues, as you seem to correctly understand, not exclusively with difficult or uncertain ones, as amcol has wrongly said.

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How interesting

by amcol In reply to So which side of the hair ...

For someone who calls himself "Absolutely", you certainly don't see too many things in absolutes, do you?

It seems to me we're in closer agreement than I think it seems to you, but whatever...I respect your opinion, whether or not I agree with you. (Did that make any sense?)

There is one thing I think we do disagree on, however, and that's the simple issue (if there are any simple issues in the midst of this rather fascinating thread) of how fast one must act given the parameters of a situation. I think your position is that there's no situation in which one should not first reason and consider, weighing the possibilities and outcomes and then acting accordingly. If I've misstated please correct me, but if that is your thinking I don't agree. There are those situations in which the correct course of action is so blindingly clear that there's no added value in considering the alternatives, and doing so would just obfuscate the obvious (there's a nice turn of a phrase). Along the same lines there are those situations where one must simply react in order to prevent a disastrous consequence. You're on the sixth floor of a burning building...do you save the baby in the crib or do you leave her there? Think about it for more than a half second and you're both dead.

It's admittedly an extreme example but the point is that just because we've been blessed with sentient reasoning abilities doesn't mean we have to confuse clear issues of right versus wrong with navel gazing. Sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do, and think about it later.

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michaels did not say that the building was burning

by Absolutely In reply to So which side of the hair ...

But even in that dissimilar situation, a person trapped inside would do better to pause long enough to remember the fire escape and use it than to leap reflexively from the first window in sight.

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Well I understood the poster

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to No ethics involved?

to be indicating a conflict in ethics customer's privacy vs customer's proprietry and amcol and others to be saying that the customers privacy is a vanishingly small issue.
In fact so small in my case the issue of any conflict doesn't arise.

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by antuck In reply to Ethical Dilemma RE:Kiddie ...

I do belive in the US you are legally responsible to report this to the authorities. I thought a few years ago this law was past. If a computer technician comes accross any child porn they are to report to the local police.

I don't think this has anything to do with ethics. With kiddie porn there is no tolerance at all. In my years of working on computers, I have seen different porn on clients computers. I really don't care if they have porn or what kind of porn it is, as long as it isn't kiddie porn.

I wouldn't worry about retaliation. This is an issue between the customer and the police. If it isn't his then he will have to report who's ever it is. Again, I'm 99% sure there is a law that states if a computer tech finds kiddie porn they have to report it. If this is the law and you don't report, you maybe held liable. Or as the person stated to you, he had someone else work on the computer and stated it maybe that persons. Now what happens if another tech shows up and the guy uses the same excuse? Are you now the guy who may have put it on there computer? I know I wouldn't want someone passing that around.

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Sorry but that is silly...

by keyguy13 In reply to

This is now just passing the buck. And the next tech is probably just as unlikely to believe that you put it on there either.

AMCOL, you are trying to take an issue that in my opinion is NOT so obvious or black and white and making it a cut and dry issue. Well it isn't.

This issue isn't just about whether kiddie porn is bad or not (and like one of the posters said, SOME people actually don't think there is anything wrong with kiddie porn). It's also about whether the tech is supposed to accuse and possibly destroy the life of a person that could be completely innocent.

I wouldn't be making ANY rash reactions to this. And I don't think the poster should either.

This is NOT a simple cut and dry issue, in my opinion, but I think it's obvious that it isn't by the number of posts...

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And just what is stopping this tech from

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Sorry but that is silly.. ...

Attending their Local Community Organization and telling all of their friends never to allow their kids to be alone with this guy?

That would get around the entire town in a very short time and he would be Guilty without any form of investigation or Judgment being handed down.

The real question here is would you trust your young kids with a person who had this type of stuff on their computer? And would you not warn your close friends to do the same?

Col

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What would stop anyone from lying?

by keyguy13 In reply to And just what is stopping ...

That's the problem here. michaels@ has no idea how the stuff got on the computer and there is really no way to know definitely how it did. So anyone spreading rumors or "turning in" this person because of what was found on their computer is just as shameful as the stuff that was found.

That's why I would make sure I knew how it got there by monitoring their computer covertly. If I saw them downloading it again, I would be able to know 1. That the person is a sicko and would be able to destroy him justly with the truth and 2. Where the porn came from and take actions to shut them down too. There is nothing in MY ethics that says I can't be responsible for dealing with this issue myself. But I won't be a party to spreading malicious lies and falsehoods about some guy when I don't know for sure.

But that's just me, I guess other people are not as protective of their own integrity.

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