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    Work Email with Personal Details - Ethical Challenge

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    The case scenario:
    You are the network administrator for a rather large company. As part of your responsibility as a network administrator is to monitor the emails for the organization. Usually this just means occasionally allow through emails for staff members that have been accidentally blocked by the spam filters. You get a helpdesk request from a staff member asking for an email to get released. Normally it's standard procedure except this time the request has come from the wife of a very good friend of yours. You recognize the name on the helpdesk request so quickly attend to the problem. As part of the procedure you need to manually open up the email to ensure that it isn't spam, so you do and you discover that it certainly isn't spam. You find that it's actually an email to your friend's wife from her lover. You scan the rest of the contents of the email and there is no doubt that she has been having an affair for some time now.

    You release the email, but you can't decide what to do. You're initial reaction is to call your friend up and tell him about the email, however you quickly realize that company policy is very strict about revealing the contents of confidential emails of staff members regardless of the contents and unless someone's life is in immediate danger, under no circumstances are you permitted to reveal the information. In any case you know that revealing this information presents great risk, because even if you don't do it directly, there is a good chance that the dots will be joined somewhere along the line and you will be found out. However you feel that by not telling you friend that you are aiding his wife get away with adultery and this troubles you greatly.

    The solution addresses what should be done and why; citing the company policy on managing emails.

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    Solution Preview

    Many employees are often faced with the dilemma of learning information within the work environment that impacts personal lives. In this scenario, the Network Administrator has a clearly defined organizational policy and standard procedures in scanning, then releasing electronic messages. Although the content of this message appears to show adultery involving the wife of a friend, there must be a separation between personal and professional ...

    Solution Summary

    For many professionals in the Information Technology field, they have access to email accounts of others - which may contain "personal" details. This solution addresses an ethical challenge faced by an individual who learns of a coworker, and personal friend, engaging in inappropriate extra-marital activity. The scenario considers what should be done and why, in about 300 words.