Choosing the wrong compartment

An issue which often arises with the increasing virtualisation of work, and the blurring of some of the traditional boundaries between people’s personal lives and their working lives, is the way that different activities can be compartmentalised through the different electronic tools that are used for communication.  Maybe it’s simply a matter of using separate email addresses for work and for personal matters (as I do, although inevitably there are sometimes overlaps between the two), maybe it’s a matter of of associating social networks for personal life, and traditional email for work.

So it’s interesting to see at the Leveson Inquiry this morning, the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt having his use of different email addresses forensically dissected.  The observation that, not only did all his official emails get screened by staff, but that the only email address he read himself was a personal one to which a selection of official emails were forward, is significant.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of his actions, it illustrates that there are significant ethical, as well as practical, issues around what channel he chose to receive the messages being discussed in the inquiry.


2 Responses to “Choosing the wrong compartment”

  1. davidchanatcity Says:

    I think most people use, or should use, separate emails, for different aspects. I myself have a work email, a personal business email and a private email. Sometimes, there will be blurring of boundaries. From a legal perspective, it is almost impossible to PROVE that the minister only personally read his private emails.

    The ethical issue probably surmounts the channel. To what extent did JH keep the contact through his alternate channels. Why was he appointed by Cameron to supervise the bid when he had already indicated broad support? Even if Vince Cable had retained the role, presumably, he too could have acted as transparently as JH claims he is doing.

    The real ethical dilemma is that politicians want to ‘look good’ whilst not ‘being good’.

    Hopefully in the digital world where scrutiny becomes easier, leaders will ‘get’ the best way to ‘look good’ is to ‘be good’!

    • martinrich Says:

      I agree about the importance of transparency especially in the digital world, but there is often a subtext to the sort of messages which were discussed at the Leveson inquiry to day and I was struck how much, in the episode being discussed with JH, the subtext sometimes came from either the virtual or physical location where conversations took place. For what it’s worth (and I hope my personal views aren’t worth very much in this particular instance) I wouldn’t attach too much significance to warm social exchanges about football or new fatherhood and certainly wouldn’t see them as evidence of congruency of aims between JH and Fred Michel. But other dialogues discussed today are more significant.

      Which is an opportunity to mention that opinions that I express here on WordPress are mine alone and don’t represent any sort of Cass or CIL official line

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