ethics matters for software choices more than ever
Especially software which communicates over a network, and has access to sensitive information I want to have treated with respect. Like what I'm searching for at the moment, where I am, or which web pages I'm interested in, or which articles I'm reading.
Consider the current scandal over the 3 main smart phone architectures and the level of location information they have and where this is communicated:
a. Android stores the last 50 mobile phone mast details and 200 WiFi access point SSIDs, but keeps this data accessible to root only, no reports yet of it being communicated to any party over the network without specific application user consent. Source code openness protects against hidden agendas.
b. Winphone sends all location data to Microsoft. Data not stored on phone. Closed source, so knowledge of this behaviour required reverse engineering and its legality required careful reading of small print. To the extent the medium is the message, closed source equates to a hidden agenda.
c. Iphone stores all historical location data on the phone so a special app can tell you where you have been for as long as you have owned the phone. This was in a closed format, so it had to be reverse engineered.
This demonstrates that the ethics of the organisation which develops and distributes the software and the extent to which this affects engineering practices as well as just marketing matters more than ever before.