Practice Questions on Reading Comprehension
Verbal Test Questions and Answers

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?

Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 11

Q11.

Common Information Question: 4/7

According to the passage, each of the following describes SWIFT EXCEPT:

A.

Had data stored in Virginia

B.

Valued confidentiality and non-disclosure

C.

Routes trillions of dollars a day

D.

Composed of a consortium of banks

E.

After over a month of deliberation, complied with the government's subpoena

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 12

Q12.

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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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 13

Q13.

Common Information Question: 6/7

The primary purpose of the given passage is to:

A.

Explain the extent of SWIFT's cooperation with the U.S. government in tracking financial transactions

B.

Trace the origin of public outrage, especially among international financial institutions, over SWIFT's cooperation with U.S. authorities

C.

Argue that the absence of information and the presence of ethical complexities make judging SWIFT's decision difficult at best

D.

Argue that SWIFT's decision amounted to a compromise of SWIFT's principles

E.

Provide historical background on a difficult ethical dilemma

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 14

Q14.

Common Information Question: 7/7

The author most likely used the word "ostensibly" near the end of the first paragraph to emphasize that:

A.

The ethical decision facing SWIFT seemed complex

B.

The U.S. government saw no problems in the request it made

C.

Four major U.S. newspapers thought on the surface that the decision to publish the story was simple

D.

Users of SWIFT believed their financial data and communications were private

E.

Members of the public reacted with anger upon learning of SWIFT’s cooperation

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Common Information

Although websites such as Facebook and MySpace experienced exponential growth during the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, some users remain oblivious to the fact that the information they post online can come back to haunt them. First, employers can monitor employees who maintain a blog, photo diary, or website. Employers can look for controversial employee opinions, sensitive information disclosures, or wildly inappropriate conduct. For example, a North Carolina newspaper fired one of its features writers after she created a blog on which she anonymously wrote about the idiosyncrasies of her job and coworkers.

The second unintended use of information from social networking websites is employers who check on prospective employees. A June 11, 2006 New York Times article reported that many companies recruiting on college campuses use search engines and social networking websites such as MySpace, Xanga, and Facebook to conduct background checks. Although the use of MySpace or Google to scrutinize a student’s background is somewhat unsettling to many undergraduates, the Times noted that the utilization of Facebook is especially shocking to students who believe that Facebook is limited to current students and recent alumni.

Corporate recruiters and prospective employers are not the only people interested in college students’ lives. The third unintended use of social networking websites is college administrators who monitor the Internet—especially Facebook—for student misconduct. For example, a college in Boston’s Back Bay expelled its student Government Association President for joining a Facebook group highly critical of a campus police sergeant. In addition, fifteen students at a state university in North Carolina faced charges in court for underage drinking because of photos that appeared on Facebook.

Although more users of websites such as Facebook are becoming aware of the potential pitfalls of online identities, many regular users still fail to take three basic security precautions. First, only make your information available to a specific list of individuals whom you approve. Second, regularly search for potentially harmful information about yourself that may have been posted by mistake or by a disgruntled former associate. Third, never post blatantly offensive material under your name or on your page as, despite the best precautions, this material will likely make its way to the wider world. By taking these simple steps, members of the digital world can realize the many benefits of e-community without experiencing some of the damaging unintended consequences.

Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 15

Q15.

Common Information Question: 1/7

Based upon the passage, the author implies which of the following:

A.

Information obtained unwillingly from the Internet is permissible in court

B.

It is impossible to protect yourself from unintended uses of information online

C.

Making information available only to people whom you trust compromises your online community

D.

Even if you restrict who can view your data, the government may still access it

E.

Done properly, posting prurient information about oneself poses no substantial risk

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