Reading 08: Something Human

The concept of Corporate Personhood is that corporations have many of the same rights as people according to the law. Corporations have a freedom of speech, they also have other similar rights and recently they have been confirmed to have the freedom of religion. At first this concept seemed totally absurd. How could a corporation have the same rights as a person, like some critics have said, they cannot die, or go to prison. However, after reading the article by Kent Greenfield I am a lot more open to the idea of corporations being considered people under the law. Greenfield points out that in many ways in order to ensure that the government does not gain undue control over the private sector corporations must be considered people to a degree. Greenfield provided a great example of the Pentagon Papers. If the corporations, the New York Times and the Washington Post, could be considered people, they were able to have the freedom of speech and the ability to print these papers that the government was trying very hard to stop from being printed. This is just one example where the rights afforded to corporations because they are considered people have a positive impact on society. For this reason I feel like the corporation should have limited rights that are related to being a person. So for example they should have the right to freedom of speech, however corporations do not have the fifth amendment right. This is the way corporate personhood should be addressed, that they have a limited amount of the rights of people.

In the Google antitrust issue, I believe what Google did was wrong. That Google was limiting exposure to other websites that threaten their business model is morally wrong even if the legality of the issue is questionable. There is a difference, between the legality of the issue and the morality of the issue. Google should not be able to limit competitors or even steal from companies like they did from yelp. Despite having a good legal defense it was obviously morally wrong that google would essentially take yelp reviews and use them themselves to limit the number of people who visit yelp. I feel like even if the antitrust action at this point has been minor there could be major ramifications, like what happened with microsoft in the 90s. Just the action of antitrust threat could have major effects on Google. For these reasons I feel that the immoral actions of Google are being accurately responded to at the current time. However if things don’t change more action should be taken.

Corporations since they have many of the same rights as people should also have some moral and ethical obligations. Possibly not to the same degree, however there is some moral responsibility of the corporations. For example morally google should not skim other pages to limit people going to those pages, even if they claim it is for the betterment of the customer, it is an attempt to limit competition by limiting page hits to competitors who could offer similar services.