Like a person, a business can be held liable for any crimes it commits. There are two interesting differences between people and businesses when they commit crimes.

1. Businesses are not real people and therefore do not enjoy the right against self-incrimination or the right to privacy. Therefore it cannot protect corporate documents whereas a person may be able to.

2. Businesses, unlike individuals, cannot be incarcerated (you cannot put a factory or website into a jail cell). Therefore the principals of the business, whether they know of the crimes of their employees or they committed the crime themselves or on behalf of the business, can serve jail time.

So the question is, how do we punish businesses that commit crimes? Do we monetarily fine a business? What happens if the fine puts the business into bankruptcy or forces the business to lay off workers - is this ethically right? Remember, the government can only tax businesses that exist and workers that have jobs (let alone them now possibly being on welfare - a further drain on the financial resources of the government). Or do we incarcerate principals for the actions of their employees? How do we reconcile putting someone in jail for a crime they did not personally commit?


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In my opinion, businesses should not be punished for the crimes. This is because businesses are mere legal entities and their operations are conducted by the executives and management on the whole. The business itself serves as a veil under which the executives take decisions. Since a business is not a real person, it is managed by the executives...
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