The following is from Draft 2 of the ACM Policy on Complaint Process Disclosure.
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This policy governs the disclosure of information in the context of complaints filed alleging violation of one of ACM’s policies. Examples of applicable policies are the Code of Ethics, the Policy Against Harassment at ACM Events, and various Publication Policies. While each policy has different enforcement procedures, there are generally three different types of disclosures of information that are part of complaint processes:
- Disclosures as a matter of procedural equity, including disclosures to an accused individual and to the victim or complainant.
- Disclosures as a matter of harm prevention, including disclosures to an affected community, to other professional societies, or to the public.
- Disclosures as a matter of sanction, including disclosures to an employer or funder.
This policy addresses the first two types of disclosures. Generally speaking, disclosure decisions are to be made on a case-by-case basis with close adherence to the policy. Regardless of whether the disclosure is consistent with or deviates from the policy, the disclosure must be guided by words from the Preamble to ACM’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct:
Questions related to these kinds of issues can best be answered by thoughtful consideration of the fundamental ethical principles, understanding that the public good is the paramount consideration. The entire computing profession benefits when the ethical decision-making process is accountable to and transparent to all stakeholders. Open discussions about ethical issues promote this accountability and transparency.
Principles from the Code that ask us to avoid harm, be honest and trustworthy, be fair, and respect privacy are also important to bear in mind. When complaints are filed, we presume that the complaint is legitimate, and we value the reputations of all parties. From the time of the filing of a complaint to when all appeals processes have been exhausted, those involved in handling the complaint must strive to limit information releases to a need-to-know basis always bearing in mind the need to minimize harm, to maintain spaces that actively support the exchange of scientific ideas, and to support strong science.
- Enforcement Policy: An ACM policy that identifies the process for handling a complaint alleging violation of an ACM policy. Enforcement policies identify who is responsible for taking actions with respect to investigation of the complaint, determining whether the policy was violated, and if so, what penalty ought to be applied. ACM has enforcement policies for the Code of Ethics, the Policy Against Harassment at ACM Events, and the Publication Policies.
- Complainant: Person filing the complaint.
- Respondent: Person who is accused of violating an ACM policy.
- Harmed individual: Person who was directly harmed by the violation of the policy. Often, this is the complainant, but an investigation may reveal others who were harmed. It may also be the case that the complainant was not harmed by the actions under investigation.
- Witness: Any person knowledgeable about the alleged activities or those involved who responded to questions raised by the investigation.
- Remediation: an outcome of a case in which the respondent has agreed to improve their actions in the future.
- Sanction: an outcome in a case in which the ACM imposes restrictions on how the respondent interacts with ACM or takes other actions that impact how others interact with the respondent.
- Penalty: a term that includes both remediation and sanction.
- Minor violation: The impact of the harmful action is repairable. Generally in these cases, the respondent accepts responsibility for the action and demonstrates a willingness to engage in remediation that is intended to guide the respondent to being a better member of the computing community.