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Soc 120 Final Paper

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Ethical Concerns of Consumer Tracking

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SOC 120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility

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September 2014

Ethical Concerns of Consumer Tracking

The practice of consumer tracking has become commonplace through various public avenues, but there are certain aspects of this practice that could be construed as an invasion of privacy. There are so many activities that can be monitored in today’s technologically driven society. Retail outlets and other organizations have countless reasons to track their consumer or client base. The ethical concern is determining where to draw the line when collecting data or monitoring activity. Many companies will use the classical ethical theory of utilitarianism as the basis for collecting data from their consumer or client base. Kurt Mosser describes utilitarianism as an action that is chosen because it produces the best possible results for the greatest number of people (Mosser, 2013). At the corporate level, data is often collected to strengthen the operational processes of the business. This practice is often considered harmless by the businesses involved because their intent is not to use the accumulated personal information for any reason other than to improve the business. While previously working at the corporate headquarters for a retail organization, I was able to observe the practice of consumer tracking as it evolved. This particular organization purchased precious metals and other commodities from the public. In this case, sensitive personal information was gathered from the seller if the purchase was completed. Some of the clientele was worried about this practice, and others completely balked at the idea of releasing information such as a driver’s license or social security number to a retail establishment. Due to the nature of the business, this…...

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