J. Pedro Ribeiro

Web Ethics

March 20, 2016

Once again Start Your Shift brought me another puzzling topic to write about: Web Ethics.

It’s in the news

It took me a while to come up with a subject to talk about under the umbrella that is ethics. The one that stood out to most, possibly due to recent events, was privacy.

And this is not restricted to the tech section anymore. It is now part of the main headlines.

Ethics in Development

I see privacy as a subset of security. When you build a website, your user base is expected to interact and leave traces of their private data around, be it in form of shared cookies or through a form submission.

It doesn’t take long to see examples of bad practices. I’ve lost count of how many websites would send my password in plain text via e-mail. Or the e-commerce website who would expect me to type my payment details on their checkout without SSL. These companies are not being ethical with their customers and took the lazy route - putting security and privacy as a second class citizen.

Your job as a developer is to make sure that the form goes through a secure connection and the data you stored in a cookie is properly encrypted. Not as a nice feature to have, but as a requirement.

Helping the users

Not all your users are going to be tech-savvy enough to know the dangers of leaving data around. Not even seasoned engineers can predict all the different scenarios so don’t expect others to do it.

Being more empathetic about your client’s privacy is a step forward to ensure your website is behaving ethically towards them.

The Shift

This post is part of the #startYourShift initiative where everyone is invited to write about different topics each month.

J. Pedro Ribeiro

I’m a Brazilian front-end developer living in London. This website features some of my latest projects and my thoughts on anything web related.
You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.