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Engineering is a multi -faceted,
real world enterprise with ethical dimensions. According to the Professional
and Ethical Issues of Software Engineering Curricula,

  “Engineering is an inherently risky activity.
In
order to underscore this fact and help in explor-
ing its ethical implications, we suggest that en-
gineering should be viewed as an experimental
process. It is not, of course, an experiment con-
ducted solely in a laboratory under controlled
conditions. Rather, it is an experiment on a so-
cial scale involving human subjects” (Dodig-crnkovic & Feldt, 2017)

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Out
of all the fields, Software engineering is on the top of the risky list.  Especially in an era where most of the
important and personal details are computerized the risk becomes unavoidable.
From bank details, company details, national security details to personal
health details, everything is computerized, that a single misuse of a software
can affect persons’ privacy, company privacy and can affect entire national
economy or the national security. Throughout the process of a software being
designed, developed, analyzed, specified and certified, secureness and the
quality should be checked. Software Engineer who develop the program should be
able to assure the users about the safety of their given information. The
judgment made by an engineer about what risks are acceptable is to a high
degree an ethical one. 

Because of the key impact
computing has on our lives that it is important to integrate computing
technologies and the human and social values together. The technology should be
developed in such a way that it can protect human and social values as well as
helping to solve problems and to make the complicated work much easier. But,
how can software engineers do both protecting and advancing the technology at
the same time? Because of that the Software Engineering code of ethics was
created by the IEEE-CS and ACM. Invention of Code of Ethics in Software
Engineering, is to instruct software engineers to go on the correct path. In
accordance with their commitment to the health, safety and welfare of the
public they should also agree to follow the 8 principles i.e. public, client
and employer, product, judgment, management, profession, colleagues and self.
Having a code of ethics allows an engineer to argue not just as an ordinary
moral agent, but in the first place as a professional. According to the
Professional and Ethical Issues of Software Engineering Curricula , Harris,
Pritchard, and Rabins  summarize Stephen
Unger’s analysis of the possible functions of a code of ethics:

“First, it can serve as a collective
recognition by members of a profession of its responsibilities. Second, it can
help create an environment in which ethical behavior is the norm. Third, it can
serve as a guide or reminder in speci?c situations. Fourth, the process of
developing and modifying a code of ethics can be valuable for a profession.
Fifth, a code can serve as an educational tool, providing a focal point for
discussion in classes and professional meetings. Finally, a code can indicate
to others that the profession is seriously concerned with responsible,
professional conduct” (Dodig-crnkovic & Feldt, 2017)

This clearly shows how Code of Ethics can affect the society
and the profession

The way of considering a
situation as ethical or unethical depends on from person to person/ culture to
culture or even depends on the social beliefs of their society. Normally a
software is developed to use world-wide and not in a single country. So, the
way of considering a situation as ethical or unethical must be based on the
same formula. According to the book, Science and Engineering Ethics, the
introduction to the code summarizes that, 

“Because of their roles in
developing software systems, software engineers have signi?cant opportunities
to do good or cause harm, to enable others to do good or cause harm, or to
in?uence others to do good or cause harm. To ensure, as much as possible, that
their efforts will be used for good, software engineers must commit themselves
to making software engineering a bene?cial and respected profession. In
accordance with that commitment, software engineers shall adhere to this Code
of Ethics and Professional Practice” (Lurie & Mark, 2015)

The safety and quality of a
developed software is completely on the hands of the software engineer. He
could either develop a software with weak points where he himself or some other
person could go and find the customer details and use it for a bad cause or
else he could develop a software without any weak points and make sure that no
details will be leaked. After developing the software, software engineers could
seek help from ethical hackers to make sure that the software does not contain
any weak points. Instead of keeping weak point in the developed software, if
they want they can create software’s which can hack other software’s and leak
details.

In the article Ethics in Software
Engineering Net Neutrality and Badware,

“What is Badware? Badware is
software that fundamentally disregards a user’s choice about how his or her
computer or network connection will be used” (Evans, 2012)

Sometimes people might mix up the
line between purposely malicious software and unintentionally bad software.
Software creators should clear this blurry line by giving clear messages to
their users. Badware is dominant. To make the matter worse, most of the
internet users are not aware of Badware and what it does to their computer
operations and the speed of responding. Simply, internet users does not know
how it could be infecting their computers. Badware have access to the personal
information in our computers and can take information without us being
informed. So, software engineers should ensure that they do not create or
facilitate the creation and deployment of Badware.  Software creators should also create thought
full product designs to keep users in control of their computers and networks.

Even though it is said that Software Engineers should always
follow the principals in code of ethics. It is important to notice that codes
must be interpreted and used properly in practice.  In Professional Ethics in Software
Engineering Curricula says,

“Codes of ethics are created in response to actual or
anticipated ethical conflicts. Considered in a vacuum, many codes of ethics
would be difficult to comprehend or interpret. It is only in the context of
real life and real ethical ambiguity that the codes take on any meaning” (Dodig-crnkovic
& Crnkovic, 2014)

Since these codes are written by the professionals, it is
more likely to be practical as professionals are the people who have a good
experience in the industry. But, it is not hundred percent practical because it
is something created by humans imagining the possible conflicts in the future.
We might not be able to understand the thought process that the code creators
used to construct the code. The best way to use these codes is to apply them in
a variety of situations and study the results.

 

Conclusion

According to my opinion it is always better to be ethical
other than thinking about personal profits or fulfilling limited number of
people’s needs a part from the entire society’s needs. Software development is
a part of the duties of a software engineer and the risk involved in creating
or developing a software is clearly proved. Even though a set of principles are
invented to maintain a some kind of a manner among software engineers
professional decisions, it totally depends on the software engineer whether to
follow those principles or not.  It
doesn’t matter whether it’s directly or indirectly, as long as the developed
software affects the society in a bad way, software engineers should not
further develop it and even should change the harmful effects from the
software.

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