Socially Desirable Ends 55
Real-World Examples (continued)
investigation, Dateline NBC placed 20 iPods in different situa-
tions in public to see if they could track a stolen iPod. Dateline
managed to track down 12 of the 20 stolen iPods (a 60% recov-
ery rate) using the same sort of information Apple collects when
devices are plugged into a computer and registered.
At first blush, this looks like a clear case of individual choices
over which no business has any control. How could a business
possibly be held responsible for individual thefts of devices?
Even the people who stole the devices appeared to reinforce
that the buck stops with them. One person caught by Dateline
admitted that he simply had bad judgment at that time.
However, the scope of the problem, increasing crime rates
surrounding the particular device, and the black market popping
up around it all point to a problem larger than bad individual
John Reid, then a top government law enforcement official
from England, stated, “If I had one piece of advice, it actually
wouldn’t be to young people, it would be to the manufacturers.
And that is: help us to design in features which reduce crime.”
NYPD detective Richard Kenney echoed the role the com-
pany plays in reducing crime. When asked if the public knew
there was a way to track iPods, what would the impact be on
iPod theft, Kenney responded: “The people actually committing
the crimes and stealing them would stop doing that because
they won’t have anyone to sell them to.”
iPod theft has become a serious enough problem, even
according to Apple, that both consumers and law enforcement
are urging action on the part of Apple, and Apple has filed for a
patent related to security that would decrease crime rates.
Apple is not legally responsible for the theft. However, they are
socially responsible for their portion of the system that contrib-
utes to the problem. And upon close examination, it becomes
evident that out of all the entities involved (business, law
enforcement, etc.), Apple is the key party that can best influence
the most significant portion of the social problem—conse-
quences. They are clear about the measurable impact in their
patent filing: “This should result in a significant reduction of
crime against the lawful owner of such devices.”