Editor’s Note—February 2014

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Big Brother In Action?

by Gary Weidner, Editor / Published February 2014


As you may know, I am involved in various standards development activities. (See the standards article on page 40.) A past Editor’s Note described some standards development activity in the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) that I thought unnecessary and intrusive. In that case, it was the development of ISO 26000, Guidance on Social Responsibility. Is the average pressure washer manufacturer, distributor, or mobile contractor so lacking in understanding of responsible behavior that they have to be formally told the difference between right and wrong and what is responsible behavior toward their customers, employees, and communities?

Now comes another such situation. The ISO is entertaining a proposal for development of a new standard covering “online reputation.” The proposal outlines the following scope:

Standardization of methods, tools, and best practices related to the online reputation of organizations, companies, services, products, and/or persons through social media…This includes standardization of efficient processes, practices, and measures based upon data that can be captured through a search on social media including Web pages and e-mail (pushing).

The proposal has an admirable goal, but I think it’s trying to address behaviors and concepts that civilized people are already supposed to know. For the record, I have high regard for the ISO. It develops an amazing array of international standards. Some examples of areas covered by ISO standards are aircraft and space vehicles, ergonomics, surgical implants, nuclear energy, paints and varnishes, personal protective equipment, plastics, soil quality, solar energy, textiles, and many, many more.

I just don’t think the ISO belongs in the field of modification and regulation of human behavior. Don’t smirk; some day parts of your behavior might be regulated by an ISO standard.


Gary Weidner
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