Ethical Issues with E-Business in Local Authorities in the United Kingdom
Studies suggest a need for further investigation in the regulation of e-business and use of systems and technologies (using e-business). The Economy of the United Kingdom is divided into two different sectors that is ever changing and fast moving Private Sector where technology and e-business is used and embraces with open arms due to the need of eliminating rivals at times without looking at the ethical issues that this my comprise or raise. The other sector consist of is organizations like Local Authorities who do not use e-Business or technology as much as they do not like the rapid change is technology and the investment in such new technology normally leads to a balancing act where cost/customer satisfaction/staff satisfaction(organizational culture) out ways the benefits.
The squeeze that has been applied on the Public Sector (Local Authorities) in the United Kingdom has raised a need for more research to be taken to look at weather Local Authorities would have been better off investing in an Electronic Business system and look at saving money to try and be self sustaining without having to rely heavily on the funds provided by Central Government.
This research project proposal look at what are the ethical, privacy or security issues that may ariseThe public have lost faith in the government and local authorities’ capabilities to securely hold and preserve the public’s sensitive information due to the highly publicized loss of sensitive. What policies and procedures are in place to support a local authority looking to implement e-businessHow will these policies and procedures be in co operated in to the local authorities business plan, IS Strategy and IT/IS security policies and procedures. What are the organization culture towards change, using new technology and the uncertainty around the implementation e-business?
The Public sector who relies on government grants and national funding for business, the goals are more customer or service focused and the rights of customers or service users take a lot of presidencies. Normally Public sector organisations like Local Authorities do not use e-Business or technology as much as they do not like the rapid change is technology and the investment in such new technology normally leads to a balancing act where cost/customer satisfaction/staff satisfaction(organisational culture) out ways the benefits. The squeeze that has been applied on the Public Sector (Local Authorities) in the United Kingdom has raised a need for more research to be taken to look at weather Local Authorities would have been better off investing in an Electronic Business system and look at saving money to try and be self sustaining without having to rely heavily on the funds provided by Central Government.
If Authorities do take the step and decide to try and use new technologies (e-business), what are the ethical, privacy or security issues that may ariseThe public have lost faith in the government and local authorities’ capabilities to securely hold and preserve the public’s sensitive information due to the highly publicised loss of sensitive information as covered by Mack (2011, New Data Breach Incident at Leicester City Council, Leicester Mercury, 23/03/2011) and also by Raywood (2008, USB stick containing children’s details lost in Leicester, Leicester Mercury, 14/11/2008).
Academy for Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues proceedings
Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues
What are the ethical and privacy issues in the public sector?
Have these issues have resulted in legal and information governance charges or fines?
What steps or procedures are in place to eradicate these issues?
How can these ethical and privacy issues be resolved?
What are the e-business related ethical issues?
Does these issue only arise in the public sector or do they arise in the
Are these issues the same in the private sector or do they differ and why?
Some local authorities use e-business while others do not, are there any specific reasons(Cost, size of authority, relevance, gap in knowledge, legal implications, ethical implications)
How do local authorities using e-business respond to any of the ethical issues with e-business?
Does local authority have policies and procedures to support the use of e-business systems?
Do local authorities feel the risk of ethical, privacy and security issue related to the use of e-business systems out way the financial benefitsIf so why and how?
Does local authority front line staff resist this change to technology?
Do organizational culture and legal policies hinder the mindset of staff and senior management with in local authorities to change in technology in particular e-business or e- marketing?
Public Sector working has now totally been changed since the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008, the Global Financial meltdown called the Recession that was caused due to the Big Banking Crisis has lead to a drastic change. The new Collision Government has started to put the big squeeze on public spending and local authorities have been stretched to the bone to try and save millions. These uncertain times have also in cooperated with the public loss in confidence that local authorities are able to handle the intense pressure of saving money, reducing staff, providing a good service and also abiding by the ethical and legal rules regarding information and personal data especially on e-business systems.
The Rapid change in technology with new features being developed at the speed of light, this has resulted in an increased risk in people’s privacy. ‘“Computer technology is the most powerful and most flexible technology ever devised. For this reason, computing is changing everything – where and how we work, where and how we learn, shop, eat, vote, receive medical care, send free time, make war, make friends, make love”(Rogerson and Bynum 1995, p.iv)’, (Rogerson and Bynum 2004, p.1). Technology has now helped defined how we live our life, majority of people now days spend more time using technology especially the internet.
The growth of the internet in the late 1990 and early 2000 has lead to a majority of people shopping online, banking online; e-business has slowly become a part of people’s everyday life. This does raise the issue related to security which can has drastic effects like cyber bullying, hacking, identify theft, using personal information for ones gain and to even promote cyber terrorism as identified by Rogerson and Bynum (2004, p209).
Governments do not sell products or services to customers; they perform many functions for their stakeholders. Many of these functions can be enhanced by the use of e-business. Governments also operate businesslike activities; for example buy supplies from vendors and distribute benefit payments of many kinds. Customers (general public) now have the facility to pay their council tax, get a road tax certificate, etc online using e-business. “The use of electronic commerce (e-business) by governments and government agencies to perform these functions is often called e-government” (Schneider, 2007, vol.7, page 226). There is a legal obligation for businesses that operate on the web must comply with the same laws and regulations that govern the operations of all business. If they do not, they face the same set of penalties – fines, reparation payments, court-imposed dissolution, and even jail time for officers and owners – that any business face. This legal obligation has been set by The British Computer Society Code of Conduct which states “You should not misrepresent or withhold information on the performance of products, systems or services, or take advantage of the lack of relevant knowledge or inexperience of others” as listed by Rogerson and Bynum (2004, p194). Clearly, there is scope here for a great deal more research that
• Is based on empirical data of surveys done with local authority staff and the general public;
• operates with a complex understanding of concerns and barriers for local authorities to use e-business;
• Looks specifically at the ways online crime, terrorism and warfare can be reduced and stopped;
• involves more work on the culture difference and change between the public and private sector;
• Aims not only to describe and explain but also to change ethical and legal policies and procedure for the use of e-business in local authorities within the United Kingdom.
Local Authorities in the United Kingdom have a reluctance to use new technologies; with the current climate where LA’s are looking to reduce their outgoing cost and still tries to maintain services. E-Business is a new way forward, but LA’s are very reluctant to embrace this new technology and way forward. There may be a few ethical issues with use of E-Business within LA’s due to the issue with privacy and other factors that have undermined the image of Local Authorities due to loss of personal data and information of the general public.
I am look at using a positivism form of the philosophical paradigms where I can gather evidence of formal propositions and quantifiable measures to support my argument regarding the reluctance of local authorities in the United Kingdom to adopt e-business system and the ethical issues that will arise with the use of e-business systems with in local authority.
I am look at using a quantitative approach to collect data and comments from three different sets of audiences
Councilors, senior managers and staff within Local Authorities that is not using E-Business
Councilors, senior managers and staff within Local Authorities that is using E-Business
I would look at potential trends, issues, concerns, positives and other comments from the three groups’ l have listed above.
Interviews will be my approach with Councilors and Managers to find out more from the people who take the big discussions higher up.
A series of surveys designed to look at E-Business will be distributed to staff around the different authorities.
A survey will be put to the General Public so I look at collecting quantitative data and also comments regarding E-Business in LA’s, the Ethical Issues this might cause and the concerns from the general public related to these issues.
The qualitative data analysis approach will be used in order to gain more depth and analyze underlying issues of the research question at hand. I have chosen this because quantitative data analysis approach might not necessarily capture the emotion behind the answers.
Data Analysis Software Tools:
For the analysis of my quantitative data I would use spreadsheets and statistical softwares to create tables, bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, scatter graphs, etc as specified by Oates (2006, chapter 17, page 250 – 253).
Spreadsheets (like Microsoft Excel) which are useful for analyses such as frequency distributions, means and cross-tabulations. Spreadsheets are also useful for graphic data from individual variables.
Statistical software (like SPSS) which are useful for analyses such as multivariate analysis of variance, factor analysis and cluster analysis.
For the analysis of my qualitative data I would use transcript creation, coding, data organization, hyperlink creation, etc as stated by Oates (2006, chapter 18, page 276).
The most important factor to with a research project is planning and effectively using the time I have to work on the research project. There are 10 useful steps which will help me make sure I am on track to delivering my proposed research project on time as identified by O’Donoghue (2006):
Stage 1 – Choosing the project
Stage 2 – Initial literature review
The literature review will enables me to find out what research has already been undertaken in regards to the Ethical issues with E-Business in Local Authorities in the United Kingdom. An Initial literature review acts as good starting point to help understand and decide the specific area of research you will want to undertake.
Stage 3 – Finalizing the research questions
Ideally your research questions will emerge from the literature review.
Stage 4 – Choosing and developing the methodology
At this stage you need to choose the best approach to enable you to answer your research question.
Stage 5 – Data collection
Collecting the data will be a long process which will end up taking a few months of detailed observation and recording.
Stage 8 – Data analysis
Data analysis includes the systematic organizing of the data and its presentation in a form that readers of your project can understand.
Stage 9 – Drawing conclusions and interpretations
It will certainly involve a critical reflection on the conclusions you have drawn and the methods you have used.
Stage 10 – Preparing the final thesis
The final stage of the project, though, is assembling the final version of the thesis..
The draft project plan attached in Appendix 1; and following the steps listed above has given me more confidence that I can prepare, plan and work to the illustrated timescales to successfully complete the research required.
This research project proposal illustrates that there is scope for a significant amount of research to be undertaken on this selected topic. I feel this proposal has also identifies a specific gap in the ethical issues with the use of e-business systems. E-Business systems can form the future and the possible solution for local authorities in the United Kingdom as a possible investment to help them bridge the gap at a time of uncertainty and push forward a new way to helping local authorities become more self sustaining. By in cooperating e-business in their present business policies and IS strategy, they can start planning for the future more positively. This proposal has also identified the need to look at the ethical, legal and privacy concerns which local authorities might be taking on with an e-business system. Every new system come along with its advantages and disadvantages, I feel the ethical, legal and privacy issues are the main disadvantages with using an e-business system (the other disadvantages are cost, resources and planning). There many be issues where IS/IT professionals may be unprepared to deal effectively with the ethical issues that arise in the workplace as stated by Bynum and Rogerson (2006, chapter 2, page 39).