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Google Inc.’s Overall Ethical Assessment

Google is a high-power tech company that has excelled in the industry for decades. It is located in Silicon Valley, California and was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996. It is infamously known for its search engine service that almost anyone who has internet has been using for years. However, it has adapted too much more by developing various products such as the Google Chrome web browser, Cloud services and storage, Google Home and AI. Google has become a tech force and massive company with well over 130,000 employees. Over the years there have been mixed emotions about the overall ethical standing of Google. On an ethical scale of 1-10, I found through my research throughout this course that Google would be a 6. Since Google has always prioritized innovation combined with corporate social responsibility (CSR), it can be considered a fairly ethical organization despite its recent blunders.

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Currently, Google is deploying the ethical framework that allows it to promote SCR and compliance with the established code of ethics fully during the decision-making process. As a result, even with the decentralized approach that the company leaders have been using in relation to corporate governance, ethical principles and values remain homogenous across the company. However, assessing the issues that have created an ethical concern within Google, as well as some of the more recent criticisms of the company, one will have to acknowledge that there is an ethical problem at Google (“Don’t worry about screen time – focus on how you use technology,” 2018). Specifically, the fact that the company appears to lack control over the sensitive data that its user provides to the company when using its services should be mentioned. For instance, Google’s 2021 scandal involving Google’s incognito mode and the opportunities for wiretapping that it has provided for multiple organizations should be mentioned first (“Don’t worry about screen time – focus on how you use technology,” 2018). The specified issue represents a major ethical problem that a range of organizations nowadays seeks to address, namely, the enhancement of customer privacy and data security due to “poor, careless or insufficient anonymization practices” (van Baalen, 2018, p. 6). Since the company claimed to have little control over how third parties encroached upon the right of users to personal freedom, Google clearly backs control over the management of customers’ privacy issues, which represents a major ethical concern (van Baalen, 2018). Therefore, problems with the management of sensitive data and the associated issues represent a major point of concern for Google.

Overall, Google’s current actions are quite consistent with its ethical mission statement. Namely, the company has declared that it seeks to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Google, Inc., 2021). Indeed, the company has been consistently striving to increase the availability and accessibility of global information, as well as enhance knowledge sharing and make the process of data management increasingly easy (Google, Inc., 2021). Although the company has had minor issues with keeping customers’ personal data secure, Google’s ethical principles can be seen as quite reasonable, and its current attempts to maintain key moral and ethical standards along with corporate values are praiseworthy (“Don’t worry about screen time – focus on how you use technology,” 2018). Thus, even though the company has had several problems with handling security issues, patronizing it is definitely a reasonable suggestion. Thus, Google, Inc. needs to be supported, and its ethical code should be recognized as effective.

While Google has made a couple of wrong choices in the past, its current stance on the management of its stakeholders’ needs, as well as the use of resources and compliance with the existing principles of non-maleficence, in general, the company can be viewed as quite ethical. Google’s effort at maintaining sustainability in the context of a global crisis that COVID-19 has entailed is particularly notable. Nevertheless, the organization has been facing certain ethical conundrums by making choices that could be seen as questionable at best. As a result, Google’s reputation has been affected to a certain degree, casting a shadow on its ability to follow the established ethical code. Nevertheless, Google’s current approach to decision-making and the focus on the needs of its primary stakeholders allows viewing the identified ethical issues as blunders that the organization is likely to address accordingly in the future. Therefore, Google can be presently regarded as an organization with strong ethical values and standards that it manages to uphold accordingly.

References

Don’t worry about screen time – focus on how you use technology. (2018). The Conversation. Web.

Google, Inc. (2021). About. Web.

Van Baalen, S. (2018). ‘Google wants to know your location: The ethical challenges of fieldwork in the digital age. Research Ethics, 14(4), 1-17.

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