Teaching Examples

When does blogging get you fired?
July 21, 2006, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The blog Thinking Ethics has an interesting — and relevant — take on the firing of a software contractor for the CIA who blogged (not publicly but in a closed system) about national security issues (story: The Washington Post, July 21, 2006). From Thinking Ethics:

I think part of the problem comes from the fact that the lines between work and private life are becoming blurred. To check one’s email during a vacation is work-related. But to answer private emails at work can be considered stealing time from your employer. So blogging about work at work is definitely a no-no.

What is the ethical position for a blogger such as I, who blogs in part to keep a record for myself of things relevant to my work?

Some transgressions might be easy to condemn: If an employee (or a contractor) reveals trade secrets in a blog. If a member of the military or the government publishes classified information. But we have a lot of blurry lines too: If a blogger posts her opinion about torture and the Geneva Conventions, and her employer is a U.S. government contractor, what is the right way to call it?

From the Washington Post story:

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano declined to comment on [Christine] Axsmith’s case but said the policy on blogs is that “postings should relate directly to the official business of the author and readers of the site, and that managers should be informed of online projects that use government resources. CIA expects contractors to do the work they are paid to do.”

However, when Axsmith previously had blogged about the quality of the food in the CIA cafeteria, she was not fired.

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