Of Morality and Software Development

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - Jerry Sievert

It's not every day that I find myself in a conundrum -- not just any conundrum, but a moral one. I rarely think of computers and software in the terms of morality: right and wrong, good and bad, but instead the expression of ideas, a beautiful manifestation of thought. This time things are different.

Let me back up a little bit. It was the height of the WikiLeaks release of the Iraq War Logs and I was outraged. Typically with outrage comes the desire to do something about it: this was no exception. I figured that I could do something about it, but I wasn't willing to risk my own hide by hosting a copy of the data on my own servers. Laws here in the US are fickle. I could be in the clear, but still end up on some watch list. I could legally be OK, but if my travel is suddenly impeded, that's a bad thing. I may be idealistic, but when it comes to the possibility of losing my livelihood or being put on some sort of watch list I tend to take a step back.