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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

Five-step check for nano safety, 16.11.06


A team of experts has drawn up five 'grand challenges' in order to evaluate the safety of nanotechnology.

The field's potential could be compromised unless the scientific community can implement a programme of systematic risk research, they warn.

Writing in Nature journal, the team says that fears about nanotechnology's possible dangers may be exaggerated, but not necessarily unfounded.

The five challenges are designed to be completed over the next 15 years.

"The threat of possible harm - whether real or imagined - is threatening to slow the development of nanotechnology unless sound, independent and authoritative information is developed on what the risks are and how to avoid them," author Andrew Maynard and his colleagues write in Nature.

The five grand challenges include developing instruments to evaluate exposure to engineered nanomaterials in air and water and developing methods for assessing their toxicity.

The group of experts says that if the global research community can take advantage of the safety infrastructure already in place for biotechnology and computing, then nanotechnology has a rosy future.

But Dr Maynard, from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, and colleagues say that the way science is carried out means it is ill-equipped to address novel risks from emerging technologies.

Research into understanding and preventing risk often has a low priority in the world of technology development, research funding and intellectual property, they say.

  • Develop instruments to assess exposure to engineered nanomaterials in air and water within next 3-10 years
  • Create and test ways of evaluating the toxicity of nanomaterials in 5-15 years
  • Generate models to predict their possible impact on the environment and human health over the next 10 years
  • Develop ways to assess the health and environmental impact of nanomaterials over their entire lifetime, within the next five years
  • Organise programmes to enable risk-focused research into nanomaterials, within the next 12 months

"Without strategic and targeted risk research, people producing and using nanomaterials could develop unanticipated illness arising from their exposure," the authors warn in Nature.

"Public confidence in nanotechnologies could be reduced through real or perceived dangers and fears of litigation may make nanotechnologies less attractive to investors and the insurance industry."

Safety studies

Recent studies on nanoparticles in cell cultures and animals show that a variety of factors influence their potential to cause harm. These include their size, surface area, surface chemistry and ability to dissolve in water.

This should come as no surprise. Inhaled dust has been known to cause disease for many years. Small particles of inhaled quartz can lead to lung damage, with the potential for progressive lung disease. But the same particles with a thin coating of clay are less harmful.

Long, thin fibres of asbestos can also lead to lung disease if inhaled, but grinding the fibres down to shorter particles reduces their harmfulness.

In May, the UK's Royal Society called on industry to disclose how it tests products containing nanoparticles.

A joint report by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering two years ago said there was no need to ban nanoparticle production.

But it said tighter UK and European regulation over some aspects of nanotechnology - manipulation of molecules - was needed to ensure its long-term safety.

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Nearly half of Canadians find security laws intrusive: study, 14.11.06

Americans are more likely than Canadians to be concerned about the intrusiveness of new laws aimed at protecting national security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, new Canadian research suggests.

The Surveillance ProjectIn what is believed to be the first cross-cultural study of its kind, Queen's University researchers surveyed 9,000 people around the world about their experiences with surveillance and privacy. The study was released Monday.

'We are seeing a high level of concern in many parts of the world about the intrusiveness of these post-9/11 laws. Fifty-seven per cent of Americans and 47 per cent of Canadians said that these laws are intrusive,' Elia Zureik, lead researcher, said in a news release.

"These findings resonate with the recent Ontario Supreme Court ruling about the unconstitutionality of parts of Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation in Canada."

Researchers examined attitudes toward data collection by governments and employers, and via technologies such as personal computers, biometrics and global-positioning systems. They wanted to better understand how much people trust corporations and governments to handle personal information.

Highlights from the study include the percentage of respondents who:

  • Believe surveillance laws are intrusive (U.S. 57 per cent, Canada 48 per cent, Spain 53 per cent, Mexico 46 per cent, Brazil 41 per cent and France 40 per cent).
  • Worry about providing personal information on websites (China 54 per cent, Canada 66 per cent, Brazil 70 per cent, Spain 62 per cent and U.S. 60 per cent).
  • Believe the use of closed circuit television deters in-store crime (Mexico 88 per cent, U.S. 80 per cent, Canada 79 per cent and France 73 per cent).
  • Rejected outright the premise that airport authorities should give extra security checks to visible minority passengers. About 60 per cent of Chinese, Hungarians, Brazilians, and Canadians but only a third of Americans found such practices unacceptable.
The survey also found some striking cultural differences. In China, 63 per cent of respondents said they trust the government to protect their personal information. That compares to 48 per cent of Canadians and 20 per cent of Brazilians.

About 30 per cent of Canadians, Americans, Spaniards and Hungarians felt they had complete or a lot of say in what happens to their personal information. But Chinese and French respondents felt differently, with 67 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively, reporting they felt in control of the use their information.

The survey was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and included nearly 50 questions on participants' attitudes toward consumer surveillance, racial profiling at airports, national ID cards, media coverage of surveillance issues, workplace privacy, knowledge of privacy regulations, control over personal data and public trust in government.

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A Security Disconnect, 2.11.06

Conference Board
There’s a serious security disconnect going on at our nation’s largest and most vulnerable companies: "The most supportive executives [such as CIOs] were not the most influential, and the most influential executives (senior C-suite managers) were not the most supportive." That’s the key finding from a new Conference Board report on security entitled “Navigating Risk—The Business Case for Security.”

The study measures the influence of security managers among senior executives; the Board surveyed 213 senior corporate executives not specifically responsible for security or risk matters and not CIOs, at companies at especially high risk: “critical infrastructure industries (including energy and utilities, chemicals, and transportation), large corporations, multinationals with global operations, and publicly-traded companies.”

The study found:

there is a strong disconnect between the level of support for security
initiatives and the level of influence over security policy within the companies
surveyed. “Security directors appear to be politically isolated within their
companies,” says Thomas Cavanagh, Senior Research Associate in Global Corporate
Citizenship at The Conference Board and author of the report. “They face a
challenging search for allies when they need to gain support from upper
management for new security initiatives.”
It also found that while security is seen as aligned with operational risk, it’s not viewed as well-aligned with company strategy:

Companies reported less alignment of security with long-range strategic
objectives of the firm. For example, among senior executives, 56% see their
company’s security operation as effectively aligned with the need to keep pace
with competitors, and half of the sample believe security has been effective in
reducing insurance premiums. Much lower proportions saw security as contributing
toward enhancing the value of the brand (44%), managing the supply chain (36%),
or pursuing new business opportunities (35%).” The results “suggest that
security remains a function that is mired in operations in the eyes of senior
executives,” says Cavanagh.”
Measures of the effectiveness of corporate security are less sophisticated than even the measures for IT or HR effectiveness. The focused on how much a problem costs, not on contribution to strategy:
The most helpful measures were the cost of business interruption, (cited by 64%); vulnerability assessments (60%); and benchmarking against industry standards (49%). Another group of helpful metrics was explicitly related to insurance costs, such as the value of facilities (44%), the level of insurance premiums (39%), and the cost of previous security incidents (34%). The choice of metrics varies widely across industries.

Our own security survey has also found that management support for security is a problem (Finding 1.2). But while our survey finds there is a trend toward greater integration of IT security with risk management (Findings 6.1 and 6.2), the Conference Board study suggests that IT security's part in the overall risk picture is not as well-understood or supported as IT executives think. It helps explain why so many IT executives complain that their company takes too tactical an approach to security (Finding 6.3). CIOs can't take support for security for granted. Maybe they should enlist the help of those anxious chief marketing officers who were surveyed in the CMO Council's study on security.

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Ethical Advocates Can Build Significant Goodwill For Companies,

Based on its research, Ipsos has developed a Corporate Responsibility Roadmap with eight model behaviors that can help companies stand out and appeal to Ethical Advocates. These behaviors are:

  1. The company provides quality products and services at a reasonable price, i.e., it doesn’t come across as making excessive profits at the expense of the consumer;
  2. The company provides universal access to its products and services, i.e., it doesn’t discriminate against sections of society because of their wealth, age or geography. This is especially pertinent for financial service, telecommunications and pharmaceutical providers;
  3. The company treats its employees well (both at home and abroad);
  4. The company’s activities are not detrimental to the environment;
  5. The company communicates clearly about its business, products and services so the consumer is able to make an informed choice. Companies with an overarching corporate brand, especially those in consumer goods, are expected to create awareness of their product portfolio;
  6. The company is smart and respectful in its sales, marketing and advertising, i.e., it doesn't adopt aggressive sales techniques, excessive mailings or irresponsible advertising that targets children;
  7. The company supports the local economy by sourcing US products and labor (especially so for the retail and automotive sectors);
  8. The company is committed to innovation (particularly if it is in technology or pharmaceuticals).
Annabel Evans a Vice President with Ipsos Public Affairs and author of a study exploring the corporate reputation of 30 major U.S. businesses from a variety of sectors published the results in a special issue of the magazine, Ipsos Ideas . “Companies that are perceived to be socially and environmentally responsible, and good communicators, are highly regarded,” says Evans. “The opposite is true for companies that don’t perform well in these areas.”"

Ethical Advocates regularly choose products that have some social or environmental benefit, such as those made with recycled content or produced via a fair trade arrangement. They also take personal steps to be more environmental and socially responsible. Most Ethical Advocates, for example, recycle, donate money to charity and make efforts to be energy-efficient.

Among the behaviors Ethical Advocates consider when judging companies are: quality products and services at a reasonable price, fair treatment of employees at home and abroad, support of the local economy, respect for the environment and the ability of consumers to make an informed choice.

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Integrity Incorporated

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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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