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Communications of the ACM

Committee on Disclosure of Findings

After the Complaint: What Should ACM Disclose?

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ACM is a global organization impacting literally millions of computing scholars and professionals all over the world each year (see sidebar 1). Given this, it is not surprising that, every now and then, ACM is faced with cases of alleged wrongdoing, where somebody is said to have violated one of the ACM's policies. ACM takes these allegations very seriously, spending significant sums of money each year to support enforcement of its policies. Some of these cases are very serious, to the degree of affecting the careers, safety, or, indeed, the lives of members of the computing community. These concerns have raised calls for ACM to more publicly disclose more information surrounding cases of wrongdoing. Doing so can allow community leaders and those who face threats to make more informed decisions about the threats and increase safety.

While it is unusual for professional societies to disclose such information, ACM's pivotal role in the field of computing leads some to argue that ACM bears a responsibility to be more forthcoming about its findings of violations of its policies. In June 2021, the ACM Council formed the Committee on Disclosure and charged it with evaluating whether, under what circumstances, and to what degree the ACM should disclose information about people who have been found in violation of its policies. The committee has developed a draft policy (called Draft 2) for consideration and comment by ACM membership (see sidebars 2 and 3). Draft 2 represents a level of information disclosure that is beyond current ACM practice and also beyond standard practices for other professional societies. This article aims to explain Draft 2 (see the full draft on page 10) and the context in which it applies. Note that many of the terms used here are defined in the policy.


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