This article on CNET reports that five doctors in a Brazilian hospital are being prosecuted for using fake silicon fingers to clock their colleagues in with their biometric scanner. It is reported that up to 300 hospital employees, due to this biometric fooling trick, may never come to work. One of the doctors being prosecuted claims that this forced on her as a condition of keeping her job by the head of the ER, who had a daughter that “worked” at the hospital.
I think we all can instantly see a truck load of ethical problems with this exploit. It’s one thing to fool the clock at your workplace, but at a hospital? Seriously? The importance of hospital employees being at work is far greater than probably any other profession, so this adds a far deeper level of ethical conflict to this situation. I find it extremely unsettling that DOCTORS were doing this. You think that they should have been smarter than to pull something like this, or if what they claim about the “condition of keeping their job” was true that they would have had the moral compass to go to the authorities on it. I can’t imagine that the demand for doctors in Brazil is low so why they think that they would not have been able to get a job is beyond me. I also can’t imagine how many people’s health/lives were affected by this abuse. Importantly, I think this shows that even biometric scanners can be unreliable and have a need to be improved if they are going to be used in applications such as a timekeeper.
Very simply, from a utilitarian point of view, this action is morally wrong. There is no other way to put it. The happiness of the hospital employees getting to skip work does not outweigh the countless number of patients that were negatively affected by their absence.