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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Media Mentions

A selection of articles, op-eds, TV segments, and other media featuring Center staff.


These Period Tracker Apps say They put Privacy First. Here’s What we Found.

Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program, spoke with Consumer Reports about the risks of data collected by period tracking apps.

The concern, says Raicu, is that prosecutors will be able to use data from period tracking apps (or other online data) showing that someone was getting a period at one point—and then later wasn’t getting it—as evidence suggesting that they may have had an abortion. 

“There are valid concerns that with the laws that now incentivize people to sue other citizens, that there might be ways [for private citizens] to get this information from period tracking apps,” Raicu says.


Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program, quoted by Consumer Reports.

A retina image camera.

They Received Retinal Implants to Restore Their Vision. Then the Company Turned its Back on Them

Margaret McLean, a senior fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California, notes companies like Second Sight have a greater obligation for product support than other consumer product ventures.

“In this particular case, you have a great deal of risk that is involved in using this device, the implant, and the after care of this device,” she says. “You cannot, like with your car, decide that ‘I don’t like my Mustang anymore,’ and go out and buy a Corvette.”

Margaret McLean, senior scholar, quoted in

Harpreet Singh/Unsplash

Pickleball laying on a blue court

Popular Seal Beach Pickleball Courts Taken Over by Councilman's Nonprofit

Outgoing Councilman Mike Varipapa has a conflict of interest because, although he recused himself, the perception may be that he used his position as a council member to benefit his nonprofit organization without a competitive bidding process or adequate public debate, Pelissero said.

“The common good is an important ethical standard and can only be met if public officials demonstrate that the public interest outweighs any personal or private interest in a decision,” he added.

John Pelissero, senior scholar, quoted by The Orange County Register.

Calls for Tech Oversight Renewed Amid Rise in Violent Extremism

Extremist views concerning the role of immigrants in American society have been on the rise, with social media partly to blame. In the wake of two hate-driven mass shootings, it is important to understand the rise of extremist views and the role social media plays in amplification of those views. Don Heider, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics calls on social media companies and platforms to do better at regulating hate and violence on their platforms. 

Heider says, "We're living in an era now where people are conflating truth with things we know clearly to be untrue."

Don Heider, executive director, interviewed by ABC7 Bay Area.



Twitter Fires two top Managers

Twitter CEO asks two top managers to leave the company and drastic cost-cutting measures, bringing a wave of uncertainty to both employees and shareholders although this type of action is not uncommon in case of pending buy out/takeover.

Ann Skeet, senior director, leadership ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics provides insight to this decision.

"I think this points to the realities of leadership and how relatively unsexy the job can be at times. The current CEO is focusing on the current situation and appointing the leadership he feels he needs during a time of such a high degree of uncertainty."

Ann Skeet, senior director of leadership ethics, quoted on NBC Bay Area. 

Gregory Bull/AP Photos

How Many California Lawmakers Will Pick Their own Successors?

With an unusually large number of turnovers within the California Legislature this year, several lawmakers are trying to ensure their vacated seats will be filled by relatives and staff members. Critics say they’re trying to game the system through a common and perfectly legal and ethically questionable method of last-minute withdrawals and endorsements of successor candidates.

Where such behavior can cross an ethical line is when a lawmaker effectively “denies other candidates a fair shot…by essentially gaming the system,” said John Pelissero, a senior scholar with Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

John Pelissero, senior scholar, quoted by CAL Matters.

Promotional posters outside Fox News studios at News Corporation headquarters in New York. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Tucker Carlson: Offensive Showman or Racist

Communication Intelligence spoke to Subramaniam (Subbu) Vincent, director, journalism and media ethics to dive deeper into this topic: Carlson, offensive yet not problematic or dangerous?

[Carlson] has taken fear-mongering and fear speech and brought it home, close, and personal to the living rooms and minds of his viewers. Carlson understands very well that as a psychological experience, threat and uncertainty play very differently in liberal and conservative mindsets. Conservatives prefer hierarchy more than liberals. Carlson's brand is anti-democratic to the core. He likes white people to be dominant in status, not equal to people of color. At the very least he prefers white men as “first among equals” in social and political priority. 

Subramaniam Vincent, director, journalism and media ethics, interviewed by Communication Intelligence Magazine.

Ted Shaffrey/AP Photo

San Francisco Chronicle Logo

California Measures aim to Protect Women who Travel Here for Abortions From Prosecution, Subpoenas in Their Home States

A new bill, AB2091, would forbid health providers from releasing medical information about a person seeking or obtaining an abortion but even if it passes, out-of-state prosecutors could target women who seek abortions in California by buying cell phone or internet search data from data brokers, said Irina Raicu, director of internet ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

“It might feel to some of us like if Roe is overturned, we would be going back in time, but we're not going back in time,” she said. “We're really headed into uncharted territory, because before Roe was passed people didn't carry around phones that track their location data everywhere they went, and there were no companies like data brokers to collect that data and package it and then resell it to anybody who would pay for it.”

Irina Raicu, director of internet ethics, quoted by SF Chronicle.

Image by San Francisco Chronicle

Abortion-rights protesters wave flags during a demonstration outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Women Face new Privacy Fears With Abortion Rights Threatened

Data from web searches, smartphone location pings and online purchases can all be easily obtained with little to no safeguards.

NBC's Scott Budman reports on new privacy fears brought on by modern technology and the bounty that some states are putting on information about women visiting clinics.

Irina Raicu, director of internet ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University says tracking apps and software are now a potential danger to women who want their actions to stay private and pose "a new level of threat to women's autonomy and safety,"

"If you are a woman who is just searching for information online, you should be worried now," Raicu said. "If you are a woman who is going to Planned Parenthood for whatever reason, you have to be more careful now."

Irina Raicu, director of internet ethics, interviewed by NBC Bay Area.

Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP Photo

The Twitter page of Elon Musk is seen on the screen of a computer in Sausalito, Calif., on Monday, April 25, 2022. On Monday, Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for about $44 billion. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Opinion: How Musk Could Protect Twitter and Promote Free Speech

Irina Raicu, director of the internet ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, opinions that Twitter would be a better place if Elon Musk asked his followers to reduce their harassment of other users.

"Now, Musk says that he would like “a much bigger percentage of the country to be on (Twitter), engaging in dialogue” and that he would like the platform to be “as broadly inclusive as possible.”

While he can’t yet change Twitter’s content-moderation policies, there is something he could do immediately to promote that goal. He could tell his followers not to react with personal and irrelevant attacks on people that they (or he) disagree with.

Irina Raicu, director of the internet ethics program, published in The Mercury News.

Eric Risberg/AP Photo