Business Ethics and Corporate Culture

Businesses Have Long Way to go in Inspiring Confidence
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released the Report on the Findings of the Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Track 2011: Organisations and Report on the Findings of the Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Track 2011: Individuals (both dated October 2011). The reports detail the results of the ICO’s annual survey of data protection awareness, finding that nearly 75% of organisations are aware of the legal requirement to keep personal data secure, a 26% increase compared with 2010. However, the survey also found that people are not confident that their information is appropriately managed, with fewer than 50% of respondents believing that “organisations process their data in a fair and proper manner”.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham expressed concern that though data protection awareness is rising, the fact that data breaches are increasingly common suggests that the private sector “does not seem to be putting its knowledge to good use”. Though noting the threat of fines of up to £500,000 for data breaches, Mr Graham warned that poor data handling will also mean customers “will turn away from brands that let them down”.
ICO’s media release (21 October 2011)
(Source: ICO)

Facebook Data Request Feeds Privacy Campaign

The Age reports that 24-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems received 1,222 pages of data on a CD after requesting his personal data from social media site Facebook. The revelation reportedly led to Mr Schrems launching an online campaign, Europe vs. Facebook, aimed at encouraging Facebook’s compliance with European privacy laws in respect of the personal information it stores for its 800 million users. The campaign has reportedly prompted Facebook to issue a statement saying that it will do more to protect users’ privacy in the future.

According to The Age, the campaign follows privacy groups’ recent calls for the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate changes to the website that allows Facebook to share personal information to businesses more easily.
The Age: Max’s privacy war brings Facebook to heel (27 October 2011)
(Source: The Age)

Related article:
The Guardian: Facebook could face €100,000 fine for holding data that users have deleted (20 October 2011)
(Source: The Guardian)



EU’s Social Business Initiative
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The European Commission has made available a report to the European Parliament, Social Business Initiative: Creating a favourable climate for social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and innovation (undated). The report proposes a package of measures to strengthen social responsibility of businesses, to improve transparency of multinationals and to simplify accounting rules for small and medium enterprises.
(Source: European Commission)

Revived Genocide Lawsuit Against Mining Co Rio Tinto

ABC News reports that the US Court of Appeal has revived a lawsuit seeking to hold mining company Rio Tinto responsible for thousands of deaths and human rights violations in relation to its Panguna gold and copper mine in Bougainville. Approximately 10,000 residents of Bougainville reportedly allege that the company kept native workers in “slave-like” conditions, and encouraged the Papua New Guinean military to exact revenge on striking miners, resulting in the death of 10,000 civilians. In a 6-5 decision, the Court of Appeal reportedly remitted the matter to the US District Court for hearing, restoring the genocide claim on the allegation that Rio Tinto’s “modus operandi” was to treat indigenous people as “expendable”.
ABC News: Rio Tinto accused over Bougainville ‘genocide’ (26 October 2011)
(Source: ABC News)

Debt Agency Halted Over Bogus Threats

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that the US District Court has shut down debt collection agency Rincon Debt Management, in relation to bullying tactics which included false threats that consumers had been sued or could be arrested in relation to the debts that they owe.
FTC’s media release (26 October 2011)
(Source: FTC)