[BSDCert] code of ethics
gmcclure at gmail.com
Sun Sep 11 19:08:34 EDT 2005
Your English is fine. :)
I think that if you review some of the links Dru presented in the
message that kicked this thread off, you'll see that the ethics codes
referenced are guidelines pertaining specifically to the conduct of
your profession, and the context of that conduct in your relationships
with your clients and peers.
An ethics code is, usually, general. Take, for example, the first
three rules from the ACM (excerpted here without the accompanying
1.1 Contribute to society and human well-being.
1.2 Avoid harm to others.
1.3 Be honest and trustworthy.
These sorts of things are very general and pretty universally
agreeable. Or, let's put it this way, I likely wouldn't want to be
working with someone who read the second rule and said, "Whoa, whoa,
whoa, what's this whole 'avoid harm to others' thing? I can tell you
right now I'm going to need to know *exactly* what is meant by that
..." Yeah, I think that would make me a little nervous.
There are technical guidelines, however, that relate to these general
attitudes and the ACM identifies those in its explanation (again,
relating to "Avoid harm to others"):
[ "To minimize the possibility of indirectly harming others,
computing professionals must minimize malfunctions by
following generally accepted standards for system design and
testing. ... ]
That's fairly concrete and could be well interpreted by a diverse
group of professionals in a reasonably uniform way. It's also an
explicitly stated ideal that establishes a tone and baseline for
behavior in a manner particularly relevant to the membership.
It's important to explicitly state things. You may wish to see
"normal" behavior that we all expect from cops, bus drivers, and
postal workers, but I live in Los Angeles, and I can tell you from
personal experience that I've witnessed members of all three of those
professions frequently displaying behavior that is not consistent with
any code of ethics that I'm aware of.
As far as the moral stance of your employer, well, that's not really
covered by a professional code of ethics, but there are some cases
where it is and in those cases, yes, I would stand up, for one, and
say that you *should* examine your behavior if your work is
contributing to the deaths of innocent thousands, or if your employer
is committing a felonious act and you're helping them commit it. Call
me crazy, call me an extremist, but in those instances I would have to
ask you to please don't do that. Many things in life are relative, but
I don't think as many things in life are as relative as a lot of
people would like to believe. So, yes, if you're using your skills as
a BSD administrator to spread evil, please add "rethink life" to your
> What if that is in contradiction with privacy laws (it's still my boss, he
> sign my paycheck)... Say no because it's in contradiction with the
> ethics code?
Well, yes. Say no. Why not? Is that really wildly controversial? I
mean, would you do anything for a paycheck? I can tell you that I
don't think of myself as an outstanding moral paragon by any means,
and yet I manage to make a good living without using BSD to manage
missiles, help Osama, participate in religious or partisan political
schemes, spy on people, read email that isn't mine, or otherwise
violate privacy laws. My life isn't as exciting as yours, apparently.
;) And for all those other cases which aren't quite that extreme, I
think a code of ethics is a reasonable and good thing for a
professional organization to adopt.
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