Three Penn State World Campus students recently published peer-reviewed chapters about ethics and technology around facial recognition and radio frequency tracking with the guidance of business faculty members.

Their chapters were published in October in the book Exploring Ethical Problems in Today’s Technological World.

A headshot of Ellen Raineri.
Ellen Raineri
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Business professor Ellen Raineri worked with the students, who had taken an online business administration course called BA 243: Social, Legal, and Ethical Environment of Business. In the course, the students explored ethical and legal issues surrounding facial recognition technology and radio frequency identification (RFID), which are widely used in today’s world.

From iPhones to credit cards and tracking packages, facial recognition technology and RFID can provide a lot of services but also can create problems in data protection.

Faculty members Lori Reno and Erin Brennan, who teach in the undergraduate business administration program, also shared their research expertise and industry knowledge.

“I am so glad our BA 243 World Campus students had the opportunity to extend our ethics and technology topics beyond a lesson in our class as well as into an opportunity to peer-review other authors’ chapters on these topics,” Ranieri said. “Additionally, because we collaborated virtually, students were enriched by collaboration with co-authors from different states and countries.”

Researching everyday technology

A headshot of Pauline Cho.
Pauline Cho
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Pauline Cho, a 2022 Bachelor of Science in Finance graduate, was interested in the prospect of writing for an academic journal. She knew of others who had published work and was open to giving it a try.

Cho combined this interest with the supply chain and business background she gained while running her family’s business in South Korea for nearly a decade.

“I actually really enjoy the researching part of class,” she said. “I thought it would be fun to research it because it did tie in with my business a bit.”

Cho contributed to “An Examination of RFID Ethical Issues Supports the Need for Improved Business and Legal Strategies.” She explored how RFID is used in modern-day business in the supply chain but also how it can be controversial and cause personal data concerns.

“I got to see both sides very objectively,” Cho said. “I think that’s one of the key highlights of this research.”

Finding agricultural impacts

Current student Gina Dignazio, who is studying business administration, also collaborated on the chapter. She focused on the use of RFID in the agricultural industry. Dignazio said RFID is an older technology that keeps getting repurposed. The technology is in credit card chips, passports, and even the Magic Bands used at Walt Disney World.

A headshot of Gina Dignazio.
Gina Dignazio
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“The problem is that it can leave you open for hacking or data theft,” she explained.

Dignazio learned in the research that there are no laws specifically targeting the technology, but rather some that relate to the field. She said the chapter argues that officials must look at the technology from legal and ethical standpoints.

RFID is used in agriculture to track livestock. If there is a disease outbreak, officials can trace it exactly to where it came from. The technology is used in agriculture in Europe. However, Dignazio said, her research found that there is pushback in the U.S. over government overreach, private property issues, and the financial impact it would have on small farms versus larger corporate farms.

Dignazio said the peer-reviewed publication was not in her plan for the year, but she was grateful she took the opportunity.

“Everyone had really awesome things to contribute,” she said.

Taking on the challenge

Audrey Ryder was in her first semester of working toward her Bachelor of Science in Accounting when she began working on the chapter “Facial Recognition Technology: Ethical and Legal Implication.”

Ryder focused on facial recognition technology and how it is used. Ryder said the technology is everywhere and is used in governmental research, local law enforcement, and one’s personal devices like cell phones. She examined the ethical issues that arise from the widespread use of the technology in today’s world.

Ryder credited the faculty members for helping make this project seem feasible. She didn’t initially realize that research and publication were possibilities.

“I think the key component of making this a reality was having really strong guidance and feedback throughout the process,” Ryder said. “There are so many opportunities to go beyond the course work.”

For Ryder, the publication was a big part of proving to herself that she would be successful in her return to school.

“I was able to rise to the challenge,” Ryder said.

Encouraging others

All three students highly encourage others with an interest to give peer-reviewed academic writing a try.

“It’s a really great experience to understand how it works, and you also get to appreciate these journals a little bit more,” Cho said.

Learn more about the more than 175 degree and certificate programs offered online through Penn State World Campus.