Recently, some US cell phones have been found to have Chinese software on them that sends your text messages to China to gather information on its users without their knowledge. Installed on mostly Android phones, it tracks users’ locations, contacts, and what messages they send. The company that the program comes from said that the it was never intended for US phones. The Chinese government uses this type of information to monitor its citizens’ conversations and has for many years.
The issues here can apply two of Kant’s categorical imperatives:
Essentially, this programming company is treating people as a means to an end of their information, instead of their own worth has human beings, like Kant’s humanity categorical imperative. The information this company gathers may be collected for or in accordance with Chinese government regulations, but there are also other businesses who would pay heavily for the information.
The second categorical imperative of autonomy can be applied here as well. The users of the phones with the program installed had no idea it was there, much less sending it to servers in China. People were not informed that this program was installed and therefore, their privacy was infringed upon, taking away their choice. The programming company probably wouldn’t want to have their information unknowingly taken and used for unspecified reasons.