- major US IT actors such as google, FB, twitter will not code a database of muslims and encourage developers to sign a chart about it;
- a ban on killer bots (drones excluded) is proposed;
- the IT industry (that reduces your choices while searching the web) are agreeing to show you «better choices»...
Well, it is a smoke screen, most of our activities are non ethical in terms of everything we pretend to be...
What IT means ? Information technology.
How do we define Information? As the number of relevant choices proposed to any requests over the whole possible choices.
Our job is very often to limit often by idiocy sometimes by following orders without critical thinking your access to information.
I have already treated poorly the bubble of reality that search algorithm makes. And I think the topic is boring. So, I will prefer real life examples of stuff I did as either a freelance or a job.
Pure illegal activities
I have been a contractor, and for years I have been working for the media industry. I have taken part in violating the law to keep my job under peer pressure to keep the activity running.
IP theft/plagiarism is probably the most common activity I have taken part in my career as a coder, because I am free software specialist.
I mostly have taken part honestly in stealing myself, though.
Let's take this wonderful multihead solution based on linux that I helped building when I was young. You may have seen it working. It was based on linux, but the hardware description said it was based on a GPU that was never supported by linux. How can?
Well I coded the driver. My boss was a FSF free-douche, the kind that would bend the truth to oversell free software and its «intrinsic virtue» for the democracy, security & al. He said, we don't release the code:
- license just means that it should be available to those who ask (and we never hinted customers about their rights);
- the (cooperative) company owns the code anyway, so it is not you to decide how to use it.
I have also one time be mandated to code a spamming solution.. oops an efficient marketing tool or set them up.
Actually it was pretty okay in the opt-out part.
But every time I was forced to let customers input their email by batches from fishy origins without control. When I said, maybe we could give check if these lists are legitimates or to let people report that it was no optin, I was cock blocked.
I have even been asked to try to protect a spammer and asked to fight spamhaus while working for an ISP.
I have taken part in fighting laws I totally support. Sometimes.
I have been talking a lot to my colleagues, and friends about this crossing the red line ; mainly the answer was : we all do this, because it has to be done and else we will have no jobs.
Grey activities most of the time : tricking people
I have also been taking part in activities that are about not committing crimes directly, but much more taking advantage of people by hiding information about important contractual part.
How much a free farting application costs on a mobile phone? Well, according to most it is free. But what if in small printing it is written that if you don't explicitly resiliate the free subscription it will be a tacit infinite reconduction of a .70€/month bill that no one notices? Your farting application can cost you 19€.
How can you be proud of manipulating the OS of a smartphone to make people send overtaxed SMS sneakily and then erase them from the list of the SMS?
While working for the advertisement industry I have been on numerous occasion working on deceptive (but with small prints still) websites for games and cooking recipies which were total clickbaits in order to collect personal information. It is not illegal if the information is there? But where?
I have tracked you with zombie/everlasting cookies. Pop-under, pop-over have no secrets for me, I have been altering the content of information web sites to the point I was potentially able to alter the news websites' information. The googleAds and co are fucking security holes. I could have put a financially fake news in order to manipulate the market if I were truly evil. But, as numerous coders I never talk about publicly (like on a blog) it because :
- I would have been blacklisted;
- the industry losing trust would mean the job disappearing.
I have been überized before it was cool
How do you call a worker with multiple customers but in fact has one and only one intermediary actor in the middle?
Well, an überized worker.
Like a driver, a coursier, a pseudo construction worker ...
How do you call this when your job is to be hired to do the job in a company that have the ability to do so for less?
You call this a yellow stupid überized.
Well, like every one else being jobless I was proposed it as the only way to have a job; I however know that in doing so I broke numerous work and contract laws. Well, choosing between living in misery or in integrity is quite a choice I did not have.
Big brother activities
You know the gun makers excuse ? It is not me who makes dangerous tools, it is those who pulls the trigger who are the dangers.
One of my specialty is log extraction and analytic. I have been building numerous tools that given in the wrong hand would result in mass surveillance. But for my defense, this is a routine activity we do. Oddly we always log the users even intermediates, even eventually the one doing the queries, but never report to the lower levels the fact they have been targeted by the query. Ooops, cost to much and not a desired feature.
I have taken part in supervising activities of workers that violates international conventions on legal length of workdays, what is an acceptable in terms of lunch/rest/toilets pause ....
Well, you know, I have not been alone, we were all involved in the technical, marketing and financial department of the company. My work has been by a lot of standards a slow slippery of concerns.
I am a good sheep. In fact, I have been considered a pain the ass for calling some a tool big brother and for asking my CTO that is a pro privacy/cryptography/freedom if he had no problem with his inconsistent moral stance in public in regard to what he was actually doing?
I guessed that may explain why he threatened to beat me one day and threw me an object at my face in the open space and then went on firing me immediately.
Breaking the working contract
You know in the big brother activities are funny. I can totally measure your work activities when you login, logout, call your mail client.... and you know for what I have sampled mentally of these logs, people are always working more than advocated.
On the other hand, application coded by fellow coders tends to forbid to input more hours than actually made. All the «timesheet» applications aka digital punch clock I have used required a manager authorization to enter the extra work hours.
It is funny how we can measure stuff accurately when we want.
50 - 70hours per week paid 35 in my industry are totally legitimate, and there is no evidence of the opposite, because, well, lol, our tools may be a tad biased.
Have you tried to be ethical?
Ethical? I don't understand this word, but let's say I do since I came back from Canada.
Results : I parse 900 work announces per week, answer to at most 3 go to numerous interviews and do not hide my intent of living by the laws and contracts.
So far, the only job for which I have been accepted had been mover (driver/riper) and it was a great personal experience.
Well, it is good news. I don't have to live in fear or give up : I can still find a job.
Most of my friends says my attitude towards IT is suicidal, I do think the opposite : IT industry is suicidal, and I am no lemming.
E-commerce is based on trust: lose the trust of your customers and you lose your business. And maybe so far you have not lost a lot of customers yet butme. I know enough of the landscape of IT to distrust most of the so called disruption coming. The IT market nowadays is basically a gigantic scam based on promising a gold rush on some technologies that you sell. The ones who made money from the gold rush were not the miners, but the shovel sellers. This what It are: scammers selling you shovel to scam other people.
And to conclude, my experience at trying to raise ethical issues in my numerous pro life in IT is that it results in you being fired.
The actual fuss about let's be ethical is just a clever marketing trick as long as workers are not recognized the right to oppose more than questionable/illegal activities. And, we are not. The only ethic we are authorized is the one of those who pay.
And I may be special, I decided to live by my own standards and I don't fear to be sacked, threatened, physically beaten, living in misery once again.
And, that is my choice, not an ethical one: a selfish one, I love to look at myself in the mirror and be a tad proud of who I am unlike the vast majority of my colleagues who have been involved in all these stories.
Do whatever you want, but everything made by peer pressure and publicity is not ethic, it is just marketing or just buying the indulgence of the crowd for the shit you made as a catholic buying his indulgence to the Catholic church in the middle age.
Ethical coders, I do not belong to this movement and I despise it.The vast majority of my profession love moral stances and doing the opposite of what they advocate when you can't see.