Homeland Security Technology and Ethical Issues

General approach for DHS and FEMA for retaining ethical considerations in mind as they discover, select, and develop new technologies.

The DHS is the department for homeland security in the United States. FEMA stands for Federal Emergency management Agency. Both play a vital role in protecting the United States of America from external threats. With developing technologies, these two are constantly integrating new technologies and making the old ones better for their uses. However, some of the technological advances made pose some challenges. The main challenges that are involved in this case are ethical. The two maim to make sure that they are offering security, keeping up to date with matters security, while at the same time maintaining ethics. 

One of the approaches to be made is to make sure that the constitution is respected when the technologies are developed. The constitution stipulates that individual freedoms have to be respected. This means that when developing or using new technologies, the DHS and FEMA should make sure these freedoms are respected, except in a case where they are likely to compromise national security. In addition, the privacy of the workers in the various sectors in either organization has to be protected. This includes the personal information of these employees. The DHS and FEMA should make sure that when developing or selecting technologies, these technologies have the ability to respect the privacy of their workers. With increasing online activity and internet access, it is easy to have hackers try and compromise this as they target the employees. The DHS and FEMA should be aware of this and should use strategies that make it hard for security breaches, especially external ones to occur.
Types, categories, or forms of technology these agencies should avoid—explain what and why.

For complete competence in providing homeland security, some types of technologies should be avoided by the agencies in charge. The main reason is that often, these technologies pose more harm than good to the public and to the people in charge of the DHS and FEMA Some of the technologies that should be avoided are those whose reliability has not been tested at all. For example, the DHS and FEMA often collaborate with the people they are helping during a disaster. During such times, they may require the equipment and the tools that the people they are collaborating with (Busch & Givens, 2012). However, if the efficiency of the equipment they are using is not tested, it could lead to more harm than good, especially when they wish to control large amounts of damage, and to help many people. 

Another category of technologies that should be avoided are those that pose very high threats, on the cyber level. These are securities that threaten cyber security. They may threaten it in the form that they are easy to hack or that they do not have the ability to protect the privacy of the users. DHS and FEMA are high in caliber, and people may target them easily, especially with the growing increase of internet usage. Therefore, there should be deliberate and conscious efforts to make sure that the technology used is secure and safe, and that it protects private data. In addition to this, it is common for DHS and FEMA to collaborate with private entities in the provision of homeland security (Busch & Givens, 2012). The technologies used should make sure that these private entities are also protected by homeland security, and that n harm is caused to their private data. The DHS and FEMA have a responsibility of making this happen, by avoiding technologies that would not be able to protect these private partners

Environmental” factors should DHS and FEMA stay aware of as they select or employ technologies, e.g., political, economic, social, cultural, or legal.

DHS and FEMA are often involved in disaster management and in emergency situations. Sometimes, these disasters are natural events, while at other times, they are the result of incompetence or acts of terrorism. The DHS, for example deals with issues of security. As such, the selection of technologies has to be based on their ability to ensure that they can ensure the security of the public and of the people working with them. One of the economic factors to consider is the cost effectiveness of the said technologies. The DHS is under obligation to make sure that the strategies it uses are cost effective, and that the overall costs of securities do not outweigh the benefits of the said technology (Ezell, Bennet, Von Winterfeldt, Sokolowski, 7 Collins, 2010). This is the same with FEMA, which deals with emergency issues. Sometimes, the two organizations work together, and the technologies they use can be merged to save on costs.

Another factor is the political and legal issues. These are often intertwined. Risk management and terrorism aversion and management are relatively new concepts. This means that there is no known method that can cater for them all. The policies at the time in the country may dictate which technologies are developed, and which ones are used by the two organizations. FEMA and DHS have to have this in mind when selecting the technologies. 

Finally, there is the issue of cultural issues. The people’s culture often influence how organizations perform. DHS and FEMA should be aware that the use of certain devices or technology might be considered unfit, by the people from the various cultures (Ezell, Bennet, Von Winterfeldt, Sokolowski, & Collins, 2010). Based on this, they should seek either to inform these people, or to use relatively acceptable technologies.

Conflict between the above factors and Ethical matters

The interaction of these factors and humans, both in the work to provide security and outside it in the private sector always lead to some issues, especially regarding ethics. In the above, it was mentioned that economic factors play a huge role in determining the choice of technology for people working with DHS and FEMA. However, it may occur that the cheapest yet valuable technology perhaps disrespects an important code of ethics. For example, violation of human rights. This could be in the form of exploitation of workers. In such a case, the DHS and FEMA have a responsibility to end the problematic relationship and to promote another idea, and in this case, to make sure that ethics are implemented and followed.

Regarding cultural and political values, a conflict may occur since both seem to hold a position on what is moral and what is not. During emergencies and disasters, the cause may be moralized, and politicized, and this may prevent people from getting the true cause and acting accordingly. The political scenario, in conjunction with the culture of the people may create tension and ultimately conflict among the people.
Be prepared to advise your bosses on when and how any of these factors might and/or should trump ethical issues.

In the US, currently, there is a government body that is in charge of ethics, and various other bodies answer to it. This body is called the Office of Government Ethics. In order to advice DHS and FEMA on when the above factors should trump ethics, key considerations from this body have to be made. For example, the OGE has guidelines for treating employees at DHS. These guidelines have to be followed without question by people employing and employed at DHS. However, these guidelines can be changed, depending on the nature of the time when they are in operation. The changes often depend on the cultural issues that are present in the area of operation. This is one of the instances where the cultural values in the place can trump the ethical issues (Federal register, 2016). However, it is noteworthy that this only happens when the code of ethics, especially regarding homeland security changes fast.

Sometimes, the legal and political issues can trump ethics. For example, if an employee is required to report something, they may be unable to do so if the thing impact on them legally. In such a case, the employers at both DHS and FEMA should be aware of this and should act in accordance with both the legal issues presented and with the ethics code (Federal Register, 2016). They should then make an informed choice on which legal or political issue trumps the ethical issue.

Transparency  DHS and FEMA should provide in letting the public know about current or future technologies

The DHS and FEMA should let the public know about the technologies that they are using, but only to a certain extent. Regarding future and prospective technologies, however, they should not disclose up until these technologies are in use. The extent to which they should let the public know depends on the particular technology, its complexities and the people who are allowed to use it. The DHS and FEMA, for example, need to realize that their employees need protection and privacy. Technology can often act as a way for people to invade this. For this reason, the people’s knowledge on the technology available to FEMA should only be superficial.

The general type of devices and technologies in use at FEMA and DHS, should however, be disclosed to the public. This enables them to have a proper gauge of the abilities of the FEMA and DHS department. Using this gauge and their knowledge on these technologies, they can assess whether or not the two departments are able to tackle an issue that may be of concern to them. In addition, they can build their confidence in the department of homeland security’s ability to tackle issues at the local level.

Consider the ethics of using technology without public knowledge or consent

Sometimes, it may be considered unethical to use some technologies without the knowledge of the public. However, as stated earlier, the departments also have a responsibility to protect the privacy of the users. This means that technology that is available for public use is all that they have to disclose their usage of, publicly. In the case of private technology, it should not be considered unethical to use it without the knowledge and the consent of the public. Public technology that is currently in use in the United States include mobile networks and WI-FI. It should be the duty of the DHS or FEMA to inform the public if they are using this kind of technology. This is one way of making sure that they are an ethical company and that people have trust in them completely.

An ethical issue that may arise is in the breach of private data for employees to the public. This may be a result of sharing too much information on the technologies available with the public. With this in mind, it should not be considered unethical for the company to regulate the data kinds released to the public through various technologies.

How might planning and exercises reduce the likelihood of leaders or managers compromising ethics when using technological tools or capabilities? Explain.

Planning is important as it helps in making sure all the steps of something are understood before action can be carried out. Exercising in something often improves the competency of a person in that thing. For the case of DHS and FEMA, the leaders must take advantage of these strategies. With proper planning, of finances to be spent on technology, they are able to understand the risk factors that would be associated with the technology. In addition, they are also able to tell what issues will cause ethical problems, and thus avoid these issues.

Exercising, especially with technology also helps in avoiding compromises especially when it comes to ethics. In the previous paragraphs, it has become clear that data breaches, and disrespect of privacy of employees are a real risk when working with technology. It is also clear that these two are ethical issues and should be treated as such. For this reason, proper exercise can act as a way for the leaders of the DHS and FEMA to learn more about their technologies. They can learn about the loopholes that might be present and as a result, help in sealing these loopholes. Failure to understand this means that they do not fully understand the ethical issues, and are thus not willing to respect them. Clearly, planning and exercising with technology can help reduce cases of ethical conflict for DHS and FEMA (Federal register, 2016).

What are the intentional and unintentional potentials for their actions to be models of states and localities

One of the potential actions for the models used by states and localities is the adaptation of the ethical cases and the ethical code of conduct that the DHS and FEMA hold their employees up to. This code of conduct, especially with regard to technology stipulates that the privacy of the employees in the firm should be respected. In addition, it also stipulates that only limited information can be released to the public at a time, regarding the technology used. This is part of the plan to protect the public, and to protect the people in the company. This is one of the ways in which the means used in there can be appropriated by the states and localities for public use. In such a case, the ethics of the people involved will be respected.

The unintentional consequence is mostly because during interaction, it is often the case for many n the company to benefit from the disaster management strategies proposed. Security is also maintained. Here, the various ways in which disasters can be maintained and the ways ion which security can be promoted may be incorporated into the various states and used as their codes for many other useful things.
Is this consideration important? 

The consideration on whether or not the states and other loyalties will benefit from the technology used and from the means of operation is important. It means that the company can work together with the states and the loyalties that benefit from it. This is the main reason the states reaction to the technologies and ethical issues surrounding FEMA and DHS should be considered. It should also be noted that the state may operate on a different political, legal, cultural and economic climate as compared to the DHS and FEMA. For this reason, the suggestions from FEMA may not apply n full to those at the states
What slippery slopes lie ahead regarding homeland security

The US is a country that has built its history based on immigration. However, there are some risks that are associated with immigration. These issues are often of the nature that should be checked, especially with regards to homeland security. For example, knowing that people from a certain region in the world have committed terrorist attacks may be a cause of panic for the population in the US. The citizens may want these people barred from entering the country due to their fears. However, such a ban would be unfounded, and would be considered fear rather than fact based (Hing, 2006). This is an example of a slippery slope. For the DHS and FEMA, the people in charge should make sure that they are the forefront, and that proper screening of migrants, including their ideologies is examined. This way, they can be sure that the migrants do not pose any security threats to the US. 

In the US, anyone suspected of terrorist activities or affiliation to terrorism may be searched randomly. This is one way of making sure that they counter terrorism, and that events like those that have occurred in the past do not occur again. However, a slippery slope exists. The current means are relatively new, and may be prone to abuse. Unwarranted searches on people who are innocent are considered unconstitutional and should be avoided. The DHS and FEMA, however, often have a final say, that is usually bigger than what any of the other people may say. This is a slippery slope as it sometimes involves the disrespects of privacy, which is one of the things that the DHS and FEMA do not condone (Beckman, 2016)

Once ethics are breeched, are they easier to neglect in the future? Does this matter when executing the critical missions within homeland security? Explain.

From the discussion, it is clear that a breach in ethics may have severe consequences both in the long term and in the short term. It may be sis that once the breaching occurs, it becomes easier to do it again in the future, as there are grounds for this breach based on past incidences. In addition, it may be considered okay, if the consequences are not dire, or if the benefits outweigh the harm done.

The ethical consideration in critical missions should not trump the need for security or safety. This means that when DHS and FEMA have to trump their ethical values for the sake of a critical mission, then they should. However, as it has been stated before, this can only be the case with proper planning and exercise, where the outcomes of the actions of the people dealing with the technology and the disaster are relatively predictable.


Beckman, J. (2016) Comparative legal approaches to homeland security and anti terrorism. Routledge 

Busch, N. E., & Givens, A. D. (2012). Public-Private partnerships in homeland security: Opportunities and Challenges. Homeland Security Affairs, 8(1)

Ezell, B. C., Bennett, S. P., Von Winterfeldt, D., Sokolowski, J., & Collins, A. J. (2010). Probabilistic risk analysis and terrorism risk. Risk Analysis, 30(4), 575-589

Federal Register (2016) Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved from www.federalregister.com 

Hing, B. O. (2006) Misusing Immigration Policy in the name of homeland security. CR: The New Centennial Review, 6(1), 195-224

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