I will give a very general answer, because there are too many specific mini-debates that can derive from these questions to talk about it at once.
These are very general considerations regarding the philosophical, political and legal realms, not information that you would find in a proper scientific paper on philosophy, politics or law specifically talking about transparency.
I think there is a misunderstanding here. The political and (growingly) legal meaning of transparency of governments, corporations and other commercial or non-commercial entities doesn’t mean “fully transparent” in the common term (or police state sense or totalitarian sense). As with everything in the political and legal realms (I am not sure for philosophy), other notions (such as proportionality, human rights, etc) come into play to balance the equation. Of course, these other notions come in different shapes depending on
- the country you are in
- the era
- if you are in the philosophical, political or the legal field
- the specific sub-field
Example 1: proportionality
In Swiss law, proportionality is defined, most of the time, as a three criterias test, roughly
- suitability : can the measure achieve the goal
- necessity: is the measure the least damaging/invading/etc one to achieve the goal or is there a less damaging/invading/etc measure that can achieve the same goal
- proportionality in the strict/narrow sense: does the measure seem balanced when every significant public and private interests are taken into account
Example 2: right to privacy (of human beings and sometimes corporations themselves)
Transparency applied to the Fairphone company can never go as far as some extreme cases that were mentioned by one of my fellow forum member that didn’t share my views (I don’t find the post, it seems to have disappeared, so I don’t remember the exact words, can anyone help ?): it was mentioning horrible things like disclosure of the incomes of each Fairphone employee, adress of their living place, etc. These would be clear and gross violations of the right to privacy of the human beings that are employees of Fairphone.
Something similar but weaker can be found with corporations (in some countries) where some things are considered part of the “private life” of a corporation (with sometimes more specific legal notions deriving from the right to privacy and/or freedom of trade&industry)
- membership list of an association
- trade secrets that the corporations cannot (or decided not to) protect with a patent
Totally with you here. I never said DigitecGalaxus was a transparent and ethical company. Me and my clients suffered many times the consequences of their very inaccurate delivery estimates or their strange notion of what is an “available item”. I only gave that example to answer to many forum members stating that a negative information can never ever be good for a company.
One last point:
I think that is the main point here. Aside from respecting other notions (proportionality, human rights, etc), my political opinion is that transparency shouldn’t be a limited, targeted and money-making exercise and that you can just be precise about the scope of your “transparency” to be done with it.
You are either transparent all the way or you are not (again, transparency “all the way” in the political and/or legal meaning, without violating notions such as proportionality, human rights, etc, in other words not in the common sense or police state sense or totalitarian sense).
In my political view, statistics of defective products:
- are not inside the privacy bubble of human beings who are employees of Fairphone
- are not inside the privacy bubble of the Fairphone company as a corporate entity
- cannot be kept secret by the proportionality political argument : the goal here is that consumers that buy Fairphone products (at least starting from the FP3) can be sure that they are buying a product that has reasonable chances to work (at least for basic functions such as making phone calls and browse the web). The measure I am proposing is the disclosure of defective product statistics of:
- the very experimental, crowndfunded, pre-ordered FP1
- the less experimental, retail available FP2
- the (supposedly) mature, retail available FP3
- suitability: this measure will allow the customers to take an informed and responsible decision to consider if Fairphone products (at least starting with the FP3) are
- still experimental toys you buy to support a promising project
- tools you can count on as a vital professional tool that anyone (with any budget, including tight ones that just have the means to buy the price of one smartphone) can buy and trust to have reasonable chances to work
necessity: there is no real alternative for the customer to fully know if he is buying an experimental toy that will fail half the time or a tool you can count on as a vital professional tool with reasonable chances to work
proportionality in the strict/narrow sense: I am sorry to be shocking to some of you but I think that the interest of a consumer and human being to eat, have a shelter and buy a smartphone (a vital tool nowadays) that can at least make phone calls or browse the web is still something more important that any corporate interest (even if it is a cool, innovative, ground-breaking, ethical, fragile, maturing startup company). A corporation doesn’t need to eat and seek shelter. It cannot really die (it would be a bankrupcy). And even when it “dies” (bankrupcy), it can, in many cases come back to life in bankrupcy laws of most legal systems if certain measures are taken on time !
Fairphone needs as much support as it can get, but, as a fellow member pointed out, it is not a non-profit organization either that you give donations to. It is not even a startup company making its first (or even second) experimental product. The customer that buys from retail a third generation smartphone of Fairphone is not
- a non-profit organization making donations either
- or an investor that accepts the risk of losing its entire investment
- or a state that gives a grant
Fairphone is a commercial corporation that sells to a customer a retail product under warranty with minimum reliability requirements. And for now, in my experience, I have more proofs or clues that:
- the Fairphone company doesn’t honor the warranty
- the Fairphone products (at least starting with the FP3) are sold as mature retail available products but seem to appear more and more still as an experimental toy
- there is no way to know anything for sure because the Fairphone company refuses so far to disclose defective products statistics