An introduction to Software Engineering Ethics

An introduction to Software Engineering Ethics

Software engineering ethics defines the activity of software engineers based on the choice that may affect people critically. It is a collection of principles, guidelines, or ethical importance that guide a person to have a disciplined relationship with software engineering ethics.

Several of these software engineering ethics decisions derive from their positive or negative impact on the overall Information Technology hemisphere. Most professional software engineers consider the relationship between the ethical and technical ecosystem before calibrating the software for a company. 

The code of conduct of an engineer is related to personal behavior and decisions made by him/her during the making of the software. These principles help software engineering in forging responsible relationships with an individual, groups, and organizations. 

Software Engineering Ethics Principles

In part of these ethics, a software engineer needs to commit themselves to the safety and welfare of the social construct of the society. Software engineering ethics talks about principles:

Public: An engineer needs to keep public interest in mind while developing software. Engineers need to make sure that their software is getting used for the benefit of society. 

Client and Employer: An engineer needs to make sure that their software is getting used in the best interest of their client and employer. The software needs to be consistent with the company’s interests. 

Product: Every engineer needs to ensure that their products uphold professional standards. Every modification made in the software needs to match the professional standards of the company. 

Judgment: Every software needs to pass through the security screening for maintaining professional integrity and independent judgment. 

Management: Software engineers need to adhere to the ethical approach prescribed by their managers and leaders. The management will need to promote an ethical approach in maintaining and developing software. 

Profession: Software engineers need to have superior integrity and the reputation of a professional who upholds public interest. They need to show sincerity and proprietorship within their work domain. 

Colleagues: This principle applies within an organization. Every software engineer needs to share ideas and data to help each other grow. It is essential for software engineers to be fair and supportive of their colleagues. 

Self: This is an introspective and reflective part of an ethical culture. Software engineers need to participate in learning and practicing their profession. 

The need for a strong software engineering ethics

The computer system has a deep-rooted connection within commerce, government, medicine, education, and society at large. A weak software engineering ethics can make people susceptible to data leaks, cyberbullying, and various criminal activities. For the last 20 years, people have been engaged with the internet through multiple applications that store their digital footprints as data. 

In recent times, several tech giants have come under security for their malicious activity. In 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was alleged for withholding information about the data leak from the Federal Trade Commission. The profiles of 87 million Facebook users were gathered by a quiz application to be sold to a political consultancy company. 

Since the Facebook-Congress hearing, the tech giants came under the radar for their code of conduct and ethical responsibility. Software engineers became more thoughtful, considerate, and disciplined about the regulations pertaining to software building. A more robust software engineering ethics coaxes software engineers to consider how their work will affect the public at large. Moreover, software engineers need to take positive action by documenting the ethical stance of the profession. 


Overall, the ethics of software engineers cannot waiver from the path of righteousness for society. A software engineer has been an integral part of the development of the IT industry, and his/her action can change the course with one click. 

Frequently Asked Question

 Who are software engineers?

Software engineers are entrusted with developing systems and software for business. They are professionals who use knowledge of engineering principles and programming languages to build software products, develop computer games, and run network control systems. 

What are the different types of software engineering roles?

  • Front-End Engineer
  • Back-End Engineer
  • Full Stack Engineer
  • Software Engineer in Test
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Security Engineer

When was the code of engineering ethics adopted?

The first code of engineering ethics was adopted by the American engineering society in 1912-1914. In 2000 ABET, the organization that accredits university programs and degrees in engineering, began to formally require the study of engineering ethics in all accredited programs. They reasoned to check that their graduates have an understanding of the profession and ethical responsibility. 

Do software engineers have helped in shaping society?

There is no easy answer to this question. Software engineers do have a colossal part in shaping the society we live in. Their software and applications have helped people in numerous ways – communication, fitness, entertainment, etc.


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