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This is a case study for my ethics class:

Late one afternoon, as Jonathan (IT manager) was investigating the accounting package, he came upon another interesting situation. It turned-out that Jonathan had access to all the system data for the past year. SSS CA was one of the leading tax practices in the city, and a number of prominent business people used the firm to prepare their taxes. Curiosity got the better of him, and Jonathan started flipping through some of the files.

Is it illegal for him to browse through these files? Does it violate most company code of ethics? To be honest, I don't think he isn't doing anything wrong (coming from someone who has no industry experience). The only time that he might be doing something wrong is if he shares the information. Am I right or wrong? Cheers.

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closed as off topic by Molly, Diago Jan 30 '10 at 19:29

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i just read this article: "An informant has offered to sell the German government the data of 1,500 possible tax evaders with bank accounts in Switzerland, a respected German daily reported on Saturday, without identifying its sources. The informant is asking for 2.5 million euros for the confidential data, which tax investigators believe could rake in 100 million euros for German state coffers" ... i'd say this is a done deal :) –  Molly7244 Jan 30 '10 at 19:36
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2 Answers

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Pretend you're fixing a computer (or anything else) for someone at their house. Would it be OK for you to start flipping through paperwork laying on on their desk just because you were curious?

Legalities would depend on too many factors to even think about, plus I'm no lawyer. Ethically (im my opinion at least; I'm not an Ethicist either) he shouldn't be peeking, especially without a reason.

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Legally it's a grey area, but ethically it's wrong. He is in a position of trust and should respect others' privacy.

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