Google’s Business Ethics Issues

Google ethical Issues

Ethical issues involve what is right or wrong or basically, the accepted code of behavior. Google has been facing various ethical issues over time, more so regarding the privacy of its customer’s data among other issues. This paper will discuss the ethical issues that Google faces, evaluate such ethical situations, highlight the various alternatives available for Google and give recommendations on how to deal with the ethical issues.

Ethical Issues and Relevant Facts

For Google, an internet service provider, ethical issues include “copyright protection, privacy, censorship, cyber security, ethical issues of ‘do no harm’, ethical issues for ISPs (Internet service providers) and how to analyze an ethical issue” (Meyenn, 2009). Since people presume these to be right, they are called descriptive ethics.

Data privacy refers to the accumulation and restriction on sharing of personal data. This deals with measures taken on collection and permission of access to such data. Although the Electronic Commissions Privacy Act restricts ISPs from monitoring internet communications without a genuine reason, Google users, have been concerned about the level of unauthorized tracking and ease of accessibility of personal information using Google’s search tools despite the company’s privacy protection policy (Google: Don’t Be Evil Unless…, n.d., p. 285).

Evaluation of Ethical Situation

Privacy International, and EPIC, internet privacy watchdogs view Google as the most invasive in terms of private information. However, Google claims that the collection of data is meant to enhance efficiency in service delivery and thus offer customer satisfaction. This leads to dualism given that, despite having the fiduciary duty to protect the privacy of its customers; Google uses the customers’ information in a manner that exposes confidential information to third parties, implying that it cannot guarantee privacy and safety. This is seen as a failure in terms of publicity test for it shows Google as not applying ethics in its day-to-day business ventures. Moreover, according to ‘Google: don’t be evil unless…’ (n.d, 285), content-related advertisements further compromised the privacy of the customers by attaching adverts to the e- mails. Content matching of the e-mails and the adverts were not at all times accurate, leading to a mismatch that did not sit well with the consumers.

Ethical egoism has, to a large extent, contributed to issues of copyright protection and censorship. Google has had many clashes with the law in form of lawsuits from the publishers and authors concerning unauthorized interference with copyright issues, more so involving scanning copyrighted books and other publications, as well as using youtube unlawfully(Google: Don’t Be Evil Unless…, n.d., p. 289).

Censorship refers to blocking part of the document that the ISP feels is not fit for its consumers. It may be due to political pressure which interferes with internet governance, hence curtailing the right of access to information. Google china can be used as an example where the Chinese government has put in place measures to control the kind of information that is at its citizen’s reach (Drummond, 2010).

The issue of cyber security has also been a major concern for ISPs. This is where people use the internet to steal and defraud others. Identity and other sensitive information such as financial and medical information are stolen and used against the victims. Due to the unauthorized tracking of people and their activities by Google, a wealth of information is amassed which is at threat of being accessed by cybercriminals and hackers.

Relevant Alternatives

Network neutrality is important since the ISPs operate on a global scale; hence it should be able to pass a universality test and not be aligned to certain areas. It should be impartial and use equal standards for all consumers. However, this is not the case with Google since censoring is only applied to certain areas only while other areas have a free flow of information. This can be attributed to the amoral and immoral governance and administration of internet services. In other areas, information from Google is of great help especially to students and businesses and this has led to Google passing the trusted friend test for it comes in handy when it matters most.


Google can correct this by using normative and Metaethics which will deflect the company’s interest from itself and selfish monetary gains to the consumers. This will lead to the free flow of information in a competitive world. Consumers’ safety and privacy will then be guaranteed and issues of legal ramifications of copyrights will be avoided.

Google should refrain from interfering with the privacy issues of individuals, given that it has a faulted normative ethics which are guided by ethical egoism. It should also adhere to its principle of maintaining high standards of privacy by doing away with practices that interfere with the privacy of the consumers and give them different methods to protect their privacy. It should be forthright and effectively tell its consumers what it does with the data it decides to put at its disposal. Indeed, it’s unethical for Google to profit from its philanthropic efforts and should stop such maneuvers.


Drummond, D. (2010). A new approach to China. Web.

‘Google: Don’t Be Evil Unless…’ (N.d). Google: Don’t Be Evil Unless…Case 8. (Attached PDF).

Meyenn, A. (2009). Ethical Issues: Internet Content Providers and Internet Service Providers. Web.

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