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Part: III Ethical Dilemmas > Finders Keepers—Or Not?

Chapter 18. Finders Keepers—Or Not?

What happens when you find some information you shouldn't know about in the workplace, but it could give you a big advantage if you can use it? Certainly, it's not legal to acquire information if you trespass in a private area, such as going through someone's desk or locker. It can be illegal to eavesdrop on a private conversation, particularly if someone is talking in his or her private office or you pick up the exchange on your cordless or cellular phone.

But what if you come upon the information in a perfectly legal way, such as when someone leaves an open folder on a desk in the conference room or posts a file in the wrong place on the company intranet, so others can access it freely for several days before he or she takes it down. Or suppose in doing a Web search, you find private information developed by a competing company that has been posted where anyone can access it, though certainly the company didn't intend to make this information public. What do you do? Should you use this information if it will help you or your company? Apart from the ethics of using it, what are the risks of using it if you get caught?


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