Santa Clara University

Markkula Center

Silicon Valley Ethics Online

Reflections by Internet industry thought leaders


In a recent interview on KLIV radio, Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson named the ethical ramifications of new technologies as one of the key issues facing Silicon Valley.  "We are generating so many new technological advances that have embedded in them ethical questions about how they’re to be used,” he said.

At the top of many people’s list of these advances is the Internet, which has brought so much good into the world but also the potential for abuse. This year, the Ethics Center interviewed 10 of the valley’s technology pioneers for a video series on the ethical questions posed by the Internet.

Polese Kim Polese, chairman of ClearStreet, raised the ethical problem of the “new digital divide.” While most Americans have some access to the Internet, there are wide disparities in access to high-speed, wired, broadband in the home, with economically disadvantaged and underrepresented populations falling way behind.
Dan Dan Warmenhoven, NetApp executive chairman, reflected on the ethical issues raised by big data, particularly global positioning. What happens when the GPS technology that allows us to answer the question, “Where am I?” also answers the question, “Where are you?” Warmenhoven asked.
Owen Tripp Do we have the right to be forgotten? Owen Tripp, co-founder of, talked about whether people who commit youthful indiscretions should be able to “edit” the information that exists about them online.

The Internet Ethics Program received seed funding from Center Advisory Board member Noel Perry, managing director of Baccharis Capital. At a moment when online privacy and surveillance are emerging as key issues, Perry's gift helped the Center to enter into the public conversation about how new technologies should be used.

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