Our responsibility as software engineers

by Ploum on 2022-11-07

On Twitter, an ex-Twitter engineer called Steve Krenzel talk about his job and we can infer that it’s not different from Google/Facebook/Microsoft.

While we have no confirmation that this is true, there’s no particular reason to doubt what is said. There’s no huge secret. But this serves as a reminder.

A reminder that it is normal that any application on your phone is registering every single action you are doing, every single location and beaming those info back.

A reminder that companies are buying those data and, no, they don’t care about privacy. They want hard data on individuals. And they got them.

A reminder that this is the world we are currently living in with phones recording position and sound everywhere. For one story where the engineer refused to do it, how many times was it done silently?

As software engineers, we have a huge moral responsibility. We are not only implementing it, we are ourselves using those tools and letting our family and children using them.

We are like medical experts discussing the toxicity of tobacco while working for the big tobacco industry and, more importantly, buying cigarettes for our own children.

For software engineer, moving the needle is easy: just say no. Say no to jobs which are against your own moral compass. Just tell your friends, your family. Refuse to help them when setting their new phone or their new MacBook. The whole industry lies on our implicit complicity.

As a writer and an engineer, I like to explore how technology impacts society. You can subscribe by email or by rss. I value privacy and never share your adress.

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