Managing Privacy: Information Technology and Corporate America

By H. Jeff Smith | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Different Sides of the Issues

The reactive privacy policy-making cycle of drift-external threat-reaction leaves much room for debate between corporate executives and other stakeholders -- who often have quite different agendas -- regarding appropriate and inappropriate uses of personal information. In chapter 4 we saw that many internal privacy policies in the corporate environment are inadequate and that even where policies do exist, they are often at odds with the actual practices in the corporation. To a great degree, much of this corporate environment is hidden from the outside world, with consumers and other stakeholders having only a vague idea of what goes on inside. Therefore, until an external crisis makes the corporate policies and practices public, corporate executives resort to incrementalist approaches to policy formulation. Because the policy-making environment is riddled with ambiguity and filled with arguments from different camps, incrementalism often appears a prudent approach. In the short term, it seems, one would be foolish to confront these debates unless one had to. By keeping corporate activities from being evaluated in the light of consumer, media, and legislative scrutiny, executives can work through the information privacy concerns in their own way and with their own time frame. In fact, sometimes for lengthy periods, they can even avoid some of the major discussions.

Since corporate activities are, by and large, hidden from those on the "outside," the debate does not normally see the light of day -- that is, until the crisis hits: a flurry of media attention, some legislative scrutiny. Then executives pay the price. They must react, sometimes in painful ways, to the external scrutiny. As the issue of information privacy is becoming a more prominent topic for discussion

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Managing Privacy: Information Technology and Corporate America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Chapter 1 - Privacy in the 1990s 1
  • Chapter 2 - Study Background 15
  • Chapter 3 - The Policy-Making Process 55
  • Chapter 4 - Policies and Practices 95
  • Chapter 5 - Different Sides of the Issues 139
  • Chapter 6 - Ambiguity All Around 167
  • Chapter 7 - Solving the Problems 205
  • Notes 271
  • Index 291
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