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In 2007, two Boeing employees told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Boeing could not properly protect sensitive data in its computer systems from fraud, theft, and manipulation. They also alleged that the company misrepresented the true nature of their system’s security in a report to the Securities and Exchanges Commission. These employees claim they spoke to Seattle P-I with hopes of saving the company, since their warnings to internal affairs went ignored. Instead, Boeing retaliated by firing them both, and then videotaping workers and reading emails in order to rat out more whistleblowers in their offices.

The reason these security issues were brought to light was as a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This law, passed in 2002, requires companies to prove that they have internal control of their data to prevent anyone from manipulating financial information in order to deceive stockholders. Many companies were able to correct their operations soon after the SOX Act was passed, but Boeing was unable to right the ship. They invested millions of dollars in consultants to test their systems but continued to fail both internal and external audits for 3 years leading up to the leaks. This ineptitude is a direct fault of Boeing’s management team. Some examples of their incompetency include exposing computer security holes to employees who had no business knowing, ignoring internal complaints regarding faux audit results, and threatening employees to fabricate evidence for upcoming audits. Clearly, Boeing has no one to blame but themselves for failing to comply with the SOX act. Instead they decided to target whistleblowers and fire the ones who leaked the information. The leakers revealed the mismanagement that was taking place at Boeing, all of which was true. Their firing was upheld in a court of law since they reported the information to the media instead of the authorities. I believe that the firing was justified for this reason as well. If the employees wanted to truly improve the state of their company, I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish by leaking to the media. It brought negative publicity to Boeing and exposed their flaws when it came to security and management. I understand that it must be frustrating to have your reasonable concerns be completely neglected. At this point however, the answer is not to turn over private information to the media. It should have at least been placed in the hands of people with the ability to help Boeing truly improve their situation. Since it wasn’t, Boeing fired the whistleblowers. Boeing’s actions were justified but they brought this entire situation upon themselves. They were aware that their internal security systems were not up to par and that unethical actions were taking place around the company. They knew that the concerns raised by their employees to internal affairs were valid and still chose to ignore them. They left the whistleblowers with no options to help their company. In the end they had to fire them in order to send a message to all employees who were considering leaking information. But Boeing’s whistleblower problem is a much smaller side issue that only exists because of their major internal security woes that they cannot seem to address.

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