Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ethics in the Computer Age

Something interesting is going on over at Barb’s blog. She has called Andy Webb (an anti-FV advocate) a tale-bearer and a gossip because he posted a link to a site that reproduced private emails from the Biblical Horizons email group (a pro-FV email group), which apparently includes some sort of confidentiality promise. The debate which carries over into a new post revolves mainly around whether or not it was right for a link to be given out since it spread things meant to be private. Was that gossip? Was it allowing someone who broke their word to be rewarded for his 9th commandment breaking? I am not that interested in the content of the exposed emails. I did read them, or most of them, but frankly found it boring and rather dull. What does interest me is the ethics of the situation. It got me to talking and to thinking, so I want to extend the discussion here into cyber space.

Is it wrong for someone to break a promise of confidentiality? Not just email lists but say working for the government or companies? Do circumstances make it a sin to stay silent? Is a whistle-blower a sinner?

Something that has not been brought up, but should be added to this discussion is the following question:

Is it right for Christians to sign confidentiality agreements? Is it a sin to require them?

Just a few questions that I hope people will respond. I would appreciate all thoughts.


Andrew Duggan said...

Since the 9th commandment already covers the topic, normally it is superfluous for one Christian to ask another Christian to sign a confidentiality agreement.

One should always consider why the first party wants to keep the information confidential in the first place. If the purpose is to conceal sinful and harmful doctrine or behavior, then I would recommend not signing.

Is spying on the enemy sin? Even when that enemy was formerly one's own family friends or government? Heb 11:31 characterizes Rahab as acting by faith and not sin.

I am reminded of JRR Tolkien's remark in the LOTR that the treacherous are ever mistrustful.

Why would any want to discuss theology in a secret members-only forum when there is no fear of persecution? Perhaps what they fear is discipline.