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Common Information

Shortly after September 11, 2001, the United States began requesting additional financial information about persons of interest by subpoenaing records located at the SWIFT banking consortium. SWIFT, which routes trillions of dollars a day, faced an ethical dilemma: fight the subpoenas in order to protect member privacy and the group's reputation for the highest level of confidentiality, or, comply and provide information about thousands of financial communications in the hope that lives will be saved. SWIFT decided to comply in secret, but in late June 2006, four major U.S. newspapers disclosed SWIFT's compliance. This sparked a heated public debate over the ethics of SWIFT's decision to reveal ostensibly confidential financial communications.

Analyzing the situation in hindsight, three ethical justifications existed for not complying with the Treasury Department's requests. First, SWIFT needed to uphold its long-standing values of confidentiality, non-disclosure, and institutional trust. The second ethical reason against SWIFT's involvement came with inadequate government oversight as the Treasury Department failed to construct necessary safeguards to ensure the privacy of the data. Third, international law must be upheld and one could argue quite strongly that the government's use of data breached some parts of international law.

Although SWIFT executives undoubtedly considered the aforementioned reasons for rejecting the government's subpoena, three ethical justifications for complying existed. First, it could be argued that the program was legal because the United States government possesses the authority to subpoena records stored within its territory and SWIFT maintained many of its records in Virginia. Second, it is entirely possible that complying with the government's subpoena thwarted another catastrophic terrorist attack that would have cost lives and dollars. Third, cooperating with the government did not explicitly violate any SWIFT policies due to the presence of a valid subpoena. However, the extent of cooperation certainly surprised many financial institutions and sparked some outrage and debate within the financial community.

While SWIFT had compelling arguments both for agreeing and refusing to cooperate with the U.S. government program, even in hindsight, it is impossible to judge with certitude the wisdom and ethics of SWIFT's decision to cooperate as we still lack answers to important questions such as: what information did the government want? What promises did the government make about data confidentially? What, if any, potentially impending threats did the government present to justify its need for data?

Q.

Common Information Question: 5/7

The author implies that which of the following most likely occurred as a result of the news stories that ran in June 2006:

 A.

U.S. government officials decried the leaking of classified information

 B.

SWIFT executives conducted a thorough internal review to assess the legality of SWIFT's actions

 C.

Some foreign members of the SWIFT consortium demanded answers from SWIFT's executives

 D.

Many members of the public and financial community debated SWIFT's decision

 E.

Financial data and transactions slowed as a result of the publication of SWIFT's cooperation

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Solution:
Option(D) is correct

The important quote from the passage is: "in late June 2006, four major U.S. newspapers disclosed SWIFT's compliance. This sparked a heated public debate over the ethics of SWIFT's decision to reveal ostensibly confidential financial communications."

A. The passage makes no mention of the response of government officials nor does it provide any information with which to make an inference.

B. The passage makes no mention of the response of SWIFT executives nor does it provide any information with which to make an inference. 

C. Although the passage indicates that the disclosure of SWIFT's decision sparked "heated debate" and the passage clearly implies that some members of the financial community felt SWIFT crossed the line, there is no indication that questions were posed to SWIFT's executives.

D. This answer closely resembles the information provided in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

E. The passage makes no mention of changes in financial data transactions nor does it provide any information with which to make an inference.

Edit: Correct answer choice has been changed to option D, from option E, after it was pointed out by Lee.


(2) Comment(s)


Lee
 ()

What is wrong with this answer? I cannot understand which is correct, is it D?? the answer shows E and yet contradicts it in the explanation. Please look into it.


Deepak
 ()

Thank you Lee for letting me know about this. Changed the answer from option E to option D.