Corporate Social Responsibility

The online privacy scandal I will discuss was breached by Google. Early 2022, four US attorneys generals from District Columbia, Indiana, Washington, and Texas filed separate lawsuits against Google, claiming that it secretly misled users to track them (Nytimes, 2022). According to the attorneys, the giant company deceived people into enabling their location to track their information. The company targeted customers who had changed their settings to prevent accessing their location data. Mainly, users of android phones and Google products such as Google maps were the target.

The Attorney-general of the District of Columbia started the lawsuit, claiming that he had been following Google’s deception following a three-year investigation. He stated that even when users avoided Google from tracking their location, they misled them through account settings. Besides, when users stopped the tracking through disenabling locations, Google still went ahead to collect data through other Google services, WI-FI, and marketing partners (Nytimes, 2022). Furthermore, users were forced to enable location for applications that did not require it. The aftermath of all these is that Google benefits in terms of profit from users’ data. However, in response to the lawsuits, Mr Jose Castaneda, Googles spokesperson, denied the claims citing that they were based on inaccurate and outdated assertions.

The stakeholders involved in the case were the four attorneys general from Texas, Washington, Indiana, and the District of Columbia. They filed a lawsuit to bring Google into the limelight. Besides, the District of Columbia’s attorney general had done a three-year background on the issue to support his claims. The other stakeholder is Google, as the victim of the case.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be defined from different perspectives. It involves an organization striving to be economically, legally, ethically, and philanthropically active (Dudovskiy, 2012). An organization must strive to achieve all of them to practise CSR fully. That means they are responsible for all four aspects. In Google’s case, the organization failed to fulfil the responsibility of ethics. Ethical responsibility comes after an organization meets its economic and legal responsibilities. Once a company has made a profit, it is then obligated to follow the rules of the game or the law. After this, the company engages in ethical responsibility, which according to Carroll’s pyramid, defines what society expects (Dudovskiy, 2012). It explains how society expects an organization to behave or carry out its activities. A law does not necessarily impose it; rather, doing the right thing over the wrong thing.

In this case, Google breached its ethical responsibility. It is not ethical to mislead or deceive customers to benefit from deceit. It tricked its customers into enabling location even for applications that did not require a location, enabling to get the information. Society would not expect such a giant company to take advantage of its ignorance to benefit. That means that Google CSR policy is faulty, especially regarding privacy and ethics.

The best way to avoid online privacy breaching is by detailing the actions to take in a policy. In this case, since Google already has a CSR policy, the best idea is to update it, concentrating more on all four responsibilities. Firstly, in terms of economics, the company can improve the quality of its products to increase its profits if it has to make extra profit. This way, it will not need to profit by breaching customers’ privacy. Also, it will make enough profit to enable it to undertake the other three responsibilities.

In terms of ethical responsibility, the policy can be updated by the statement that the company shall respect the privacy and decisions of its users to avoid privacy breaches. However, this cannot happen if enforcement of the policy is not done. The company has to understand that being ethical means doing the right thing. Misleading its customers is not right, and hence, it should respect their privacy. Thus, based on moral responsibility, I would update the CSR policy with respecting customers’ privacy. Also, I would include a statement about being truthful and avoiding being deceitful. The case cites Google being deceitful on their account settings. In the eyes of society, deceiving is wrong, even though it could be suitable for Google. It should, therefore, act according to society’s expectations of what deceit means.

Additionally, I would update by stating that Google users shall be notified when Google wants to use its location to give permission. This means that Google cannot use anybody’s location to collect data for its gain unless a user accepts or gives it permission. This will allow the company to be ethically responsible as part of CSR. Besides, I would ensure that the company practices what the policy states. It is because the company could still be unethical when policies are documented by not practising.

In an interview with an Australian-based activist, Ann Sherry, psychologist Peter Quarry discusses with her the wider benefits of CSR and how organizations can incorporate it in their business. In their definition of CSR, Peter states that it involves businesses behaving ethically economically and improving the lives of their workforce and the society at large (Films Media Group, 2009). Even though it is supposed to act economically, it does not have to be unethical. In the company’s CSR policy, I would update it with doing the right thing even when the economic conditions of the company are unfavourable. Even if Google was not satisfied with its financial situation, that does not justify brainwashing its customers. Thus, the policy would ensure the company does the right thing regardless of its economic condition.

Lastly, due to the lawsuits, the company’s public trust might have vanished. To regain public trust, I would update the policy by offering education on privacy settings to its customers. Some users might permit without their knowledge or because they are ignorant. In that case, to help them understand how the privacy settings work, I would ensure Google has a section in its settings where users can learn how to set privacy settings, which information can be collected, and how it will be used. By that, the public will have its data privacy because they know what they are doing. This will regain the public trust because the public will discover that Google cares about their privacy.


Besides regaining pubic trust, it would also gain more benefits. For example, it would gain customer commitment. This would be possible because through being ethically responsible, speaking the truth, and doing what society expects, customers would gain trust and remain committed. If I work towards protecting customers’ privacy through the discussed policies, the company will avoid such ethical breaches in the future. The fundamental of CSR is that a business is a core part of the community. As such, it will strive to achieve the ethical responsibility of CSR. That way, it will not be easy for Google to deceive users or to gain profit through deceitful practices. Brainwashing customers to gain an advantage of their ignorance is unethical, and companies should consider acting more ethically because they are a core part of the community.


Dudovskiy, J. (2012, October 22). Carroll’s CSR pyramid – Research methodology. Research-Methodology.

Films Media Group. (2009). Corporate social responsibility. Films On Demand. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from Nytimes. (2022, January 24). Four attorneys general claim Google secretly tracked people. The New York Times – Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos.