Section 2 Rules for disclosure in particular situations

One way to mitigate that concern would be to say that Person A must say “I have filed a complaint about B” if they want to say anything at all. The complainant in many cases may not want to say that they have filed a complaint and that would still be perfectly fine. My concern is that ACM not try to prevent the complainant from saying it if they want to do so. ACM could ask them not to share details of things ACM tells them during the course of the investigation, but the fact that they filed a complaint is not something ACM told them. It is something they told ACM. Similarly, any evidence they provide to ACM about the complaint should be their information to share with others as they see fit. Asking them to distinguish between information ACM gives them and information they give ACM seems reasonable to me. I think the first could be limited but that the second should be their decision.

It is not clear which conferences and which leaders (general chairs?) are considered to be in position to know whether individuals have a sanction.

Which individuals depends on how individual ACM and ACM SIG conferences spread out responsibilities.

Would this information be further shared with conferences sponsored by other bodies such as IEEE?

No. Sanctions imposed by ACM are only binding on ACM events.

A similar question might be raised here: how is this group going composed? Is there some kind of “conflict of interests” ruling?

The enforcement policies dictate who is involved. The enforcement policies also allow group composition to change from case to case.

The ACM Conflict of Interest Policy applies in all of matters taken up by any committee, board, group of volunteers, or employees of ACM.

Thank you - this is very good news!

When I have been assigning reviewers in the role of AC, I have not seen any vetting applied to those reviewers. When I have been assigning ACs in the role of SC, I have not seen any vetting applied to those ACs.

Is all of that work done invisibly? Or is the vetting to be done in the future?

I’m asking both as someone who is entangled in reviewing processes in at least three roles (SC, AC, reviewer), and as CARES co-chair. People will be asking us for clarification, and I hope that I can help you to spread awareness and clarity.

thanks,

–michael

Subsections 2.5 and 2.6 specify the complainants and any harmed individuals should be informed unless “they have requested not to be informed” or “there is a justifiable expectation of unreasonable harm”. Subsection 2.4 leaves out “requested not to be informed”. None of the subsections cover whether witnesses should be informed.

I think it would be better as a general rule: If a complainant, harmed individual, or witness requests not to be informed of the decision, their request should be honored. If they change their mind, they can ask.

Also, there could be a general rule that information should not be disclosed when “there is a justifiable expectation of unreasonable harm”. That goes back to the Code of Ethics. The exception would be when there is a justifiable expectation of greater harm by not disclosing.

Rule 4: “requires the consent of the complainant or witness” leaves out the harmed individual.

I think this whole section is about who the ACM can / should inform. What about if a complainant, witness or respondent themself discloses information about the alleged incident?

Very concerned with section 2.5 which essentially states “we’ll not follow this policy in cases where the decision maker decides not to follow it”. With no defined review and approval process and a vague reference to “carefully considered by the group of individuals familiar with the complaint”. Seems like a recipe for inconsistent treatment especially given the number of members and global footprint of ACM. There should be much greater specificity and clarity in this section or it should be removed. The issue may be better addressed in the sanction and remediations sections of this policy.

Request for Clarification — for this item - the disclosure to SIG and conference leaders would be beyond use of the sanctions database for lookups when the person is being considered for award or role in conference? The SIG would be notified about the sanctions prior to any expectation of lookup?

Are there any situations where disclosure to the SIG and its leaders would be made based on a complaint or investigation? Rather than just following an investigation and sanctions?
In an effort to reduce harm I am wondering if that has been considered. Especially since participation can happen outside the normal realms that have been normally discussed regarding sanctions (virtual meetings, email lists).

The charge given to our committee was to develop a policy for what ACM should disclose. These concerns are certainly important, but outside the scope of our charge. Note that these concerns are taken up in The Code of Ethics Enforcement policy, which says that participants are “expected to adhere to this confidentiality policy” (the confidentiality policy contained within the enforcement policy).

We would expect this “escape clause” to be used rarely, if at all, given the number of cases ACM processes. While the authority granted by such a clause could be abused, most of the time decision makers are different than decision communicators. There is always at least one ACM volunteer and one ACM staff member involved in the communication of a decision. A checks and balances system is in place. Further, details surrounding each case vary so widely that more specific language may not always be helpful.

Please suggest language to make this stronger.

the disclosure to SIG and conference leaders would be beyond use of the sanctions database for lookups when the person is being considered for award or role in conference? The SIG would be notified about the sanctions prior to any expectation of lookup?

That is not the intention here. It is the case, however, that a person, say a chair, may come to know that someone is currently under sanction. Under this policy the chair cannot disclose that information.

Are there any situations where disclosure to the SIG and its leaders would be made based on a complaint or investigation? Rather than just following an investigation and sanctions?

This is addressed in item 6 here.

Is all of that work done invisibly? Or is the vetting to be done in the future?

Each conference/SIG is supposed to have a process in place for ensuring that the vetting takes place. It is my understanding that there are a few conferences/SIGs that might not have such processes in place yet.

I had the same question… it would seem that each individual should have to consent to their name being shared. This raises another question though… if a complaint names a harmed individual, is that harmed individual told of the complaint by right, or only if the subsequent investigation determines it necessary?

It can be the case that there are multiple harmed individuals (e.g. a racist/sexist statement during a coffee break at a conference is heard by multiple people). Those people may not all be identified through the course of an investigation. In practice, harmed individuals are contacted if their contact information can be determined.

I would suggest removing the clause. The intent of the policy rewrite is to allow for greater disclosure of information for “Procedural Equity” and “Harm Prevention”. Proposed Section 2.6 allows for disclosure to leaders of ACM communities as well as the respondent’s employer or supervisor. If we can’t identify what other bodies/individuals may need to be informed when creating the policy, then we shouldn’t allow disclosure. I would also think legal counsel would have strong opinions on this clause re the identified increased defamation risk and this allowing deviation from the policy. If this clause is left in, then the approval for deviations should include individuals with fiduciary responsibilities in ACM both at the volunteer and staff level.

It’s not clear to see that all witnesses are created equal and therefore automatically entitled to learn about the outcome of the investigation. For example, witnesses may be called upon to testify on some particular evidence, but they may not be aware of the underlying complaint or have a need to know about it.

“It’s not clear to see” :arrow_right: “It’s not clear to me”

Thanks for this observation.