Snowden, the NSA, and Ethics

Before I get any deeper, I am not here to discuss whether or not Edward Snowden should have released the classified material. That is a debate for another day and another forum.

I am going to say that Snowden violated some of the core ethical principals of the Information Technology as a whole. It wasn’t the releasing of the PRISM slides that angers me. It is the fact that a Systems Administrator should not have been aware of the presentation in the first place.

The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), with whom I’ve been a member longer than AIIM, has a published Code of Ethics. It is long and covers all sorts of situations in which members may find themselves. Section 1.8, Honor Confidentiality, applies to Snowden:

The principle of honesty extends to issues of confidentiality of information whenever one has made an explicit promise to honor confidentiality or, implicitly, when private information not directly related to the performance of one’s duties becomes available.

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License Audits…Enforcing Ethics

Ethics.  In the consulting business, the perception of your level of ethics can break you.  I haven’t seen a lot people gain work because of their perceived ethics, but I have seen several lose work.  We all like to assume that the person across the table, phone, or email will act in a fair and ethical manner.  The more “real” the social interaction, the stronger the assumption.

Well, recently it appears EMC has been checking on the usage of Documentum in some clients.  Specifically, they have been conducting audits to check that licensing agreements are being followed.  This revelation just screams for comment on the event and the underlying culture.

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EMC World 2008: Rules of the Road

Okay, things haven’t started yet, but I wanted to take a minute to put some basic rules that I’ll be following regarding my blog while I’m out there. I just want to level-set the expectations before I start.

All posts that follow these rules will start EMC World 2008:. This is to clearly identify them for everyone. If I write a post during the conference that doesn’t adhere to what I am laying-out here, it won’t have that prefix.


I’m going to be running a basic disclaimer in all my posts. This is because I will be writing the posts during/after sessions and I will hear things that I may misconstrue or that talk about future events.

All information in this post was gathered from the presenters and presentation. It does not reflect my opinion unless clearly indicated (Italics in parenthesis). Any errors are most likely from my misunderstanding a statement or imperfectly recording the information. Updates to correct information are reflected in red, but will not be otherwise indicated.

All statements about the future of EMC products and strategy are subject to change due to a large variety of factors.

As indicated, if I learn later that something I posted was incorrect, I will endeavor to correct it, but it may not be immediate.

Topics of Conversation

As a general rule, if I, or the person I am talking to at the time, has a beverage in their hand, I’m not blogging it. If it is blatantly clear that the information is public, I will share it in a constructed post during, or shortly after, EMC World.

The issue here is that I am a longtime partner of EMC/Documentum. As such, I am sometimes privy to information that is not made available to the general public. This information is used to serve my clients better.

If I started sharing this information, then I would no longer be able to learn any of it in the future. That information is by far more important any benefit that I may gain by posting it here.

There are several EMC personnel that have shared information with me since I started this blog. I have, to date, kept all confidences and will continue to do so in the future.

When Trust Breaks Down

I wrote a while back on how Trust is Important. Recently, there was an incident at the State Department where the Passport records of the Presidential candidates were accessed. I think this is another opportunity to look at trust in the IT world.

Before I dive in, let me just state that I don’t know anyone involved and don’t have any connection to the incident. I don’t have any inside information and only know what I have read in the papers. I do have knowledge and experience on a project of similar scope and privacy concerns for another governmental agency. As such, I am familiar with the issues and environment involved.

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Why Trust is Important

Recently, two events have made me reflect on why trust is important. These weren’t unique or exciting events, and they weren’t related. Their close proximity in time made me remember how important trust is and why I should not be carefree with it in my professional life.

And now, folks, it’s time for “Who do you trust!” Hubba, hubba, hubba! Money, money, money! Who do you trust? Me? I’m giving away free money.

– The Joker, Batman

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