Unethical App of the Year: BuyPartisan

The un-American app at work. Just what we need...more help at being divided.

The un-American app at work. Just what we need…more help at being divided.

One thing we can be sure of in our capitalistic, entrepreneurial culture: if there’s toxic conduct that somebody can make a buck out of facilitating, someone will.

BuyPartisan is a new smartphone app and the inspiration of app developer Spend Consciously. It allows users to receive an instant ideological score on every product, designating the manufacturer or service provider as virtuous or evil, or, as this sick, hyper-partisan, hyper-polarized, disintegrating culture would have it, Republican or Democratic, conservative or liberal.  After the self-righteous, hating-the-other-side-of-the-political-spectrum user scans the bar code on products with his or her phone camera, BuyPartisan (Get it???) accesses campaign finance data and analyzes contributions from the company’s board of directors, CEO, employees and PACs. This allows the happy, political aparthied-loving app user to stick it to any company that doesn’t comport with the user’s narrow, but absolutely right beyond question, view of the world.

Yecch. I want an app that tells me who uses this app, so I can avoid them whenever possible. Continue reading

The NRA’s New Video Game: Maybe Bad Tactics, Not Bad Ethics

Oh, the humanity!!!

Oh, the HUMANITY !!!

Me, I was always taught not to taunt angry dogs, or aggravate bullies who have good left hooks, or make faces at teachers who were mad at me for not turning in my homework. Thus I think the National Rifle Association may have been, if not foolish, needlessly provocative by choosing this moment in time to tweak its intractable and largely unhinged opposition by releasing a new smart phone app for iPhones and iPads, a 3D shooting range game.

Nevertheless, there is nothing unethical about it. This is a classic example of the ick factor at work. (The ick factor is the common phenomenon in which conduct that is unusual,strange, new, surprising or shocking are seen by many as unethical, when in fact they are just unusual, strange,new, surprising or shocking.) Continue reading

Ethical Lawyers? There’s an App For That!

At least in New York.

The New York bar has launched a Mobile Ethics App that allows judges, lawyers and law students to access legal ethics advice from their smartphones.

The State Bar has made its catalog of more than 900 legal ethics opinions,available on an app for iPhones, Android phones and BlackBerrys, as well as iPads, through their respective app marketplaces. “Ethics questions can arise in many different contexts. The NYSBA Mobile Ethics App will allow judges, lawyers and others to access the opinions of the Association’s Professional Ethics Committee on the spot from the convenience of their mobile devices,” said Association President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo). “The State Bar is pleased to provide this service to its members and the legal community.”

This is a terrific idea, and it is to be hoped that other bar associations follow suit.

Now if someone will  develop an app for government ethics…

[Thanks to Robert Ambrogi for the news]

UPDATE: Shortly after this was posted, I learned that another bar association has an app for ethics: the Alabama Bar, which launched the first organized code of professional responsibility that was adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908.