Monday, August 10, 2015

Spying Claim New Headache for SeaWorld

Accusations of spying have put a new twist on the battle between SeaWorld Entertainment and animal-welfare activists, which experts say could cause more trouble for the theme-park company.

Orlando-based SeaWorld has opened an investigation and placed an employee on paid leave after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused the employee of attending protests posing as an activist...
It's not unheard of for both corporations and nonprofits to gather intelligence on critics or competitors, said Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

"To me, the line is crossed when one presents oneself deceptively and certainly is crossed when one tries to incite violent action," Hanson said.

Typically companies that snoop on critics hire outside firms to put some distance between them and the surveillance, said Gary Ruskin, who authored a 2013 report on corporate espionage for a nonprofit citizen-activism organization, Essential Information.

If management encouraged its own employee to spy, Ruskin said, "it's espionage incompetence on the part of SeaWorld."