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SO many anecdotes we could share. Mine is, I contracted out to do work on an 80211 radio. The company wanted quicker connections on bands reserved for emergency communications in many countries. The FCC rule was, listen before you talk. But its quicker to ping the access point immediately. Quicker but illegal, and obstructive to emergency communications.

I refused flatly. Phrased it as 'as a contractor I'd be liable. I don't have deep pockets'. So they just got an employee to do it, who had absolutely no compunctions about it.

Its not so much that a company wants to do wrong things. Its that there's always an engineer willing to do them.

>Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, whistleblowers who provide the FCC with original information that leads to a successful enforcement action in which monetary sanctions exceed $1 million will receive an award of not less than 10% and not more than 30% of the monetary sanction. In August 2012, the FCC issued its first award under the Whistleblower Bounty Program. The award was $50,000, or 30% of the amount collected by the FCC, the maximum allowed. [0]

Even if you're not interested in the financial reward you should still report it because you could be literally saving someone's life (possibly even that of your own) down the road.

[0] http://johnsonandbell.com/alerts-blog/employment/statutory-a...

Completely agree. While I like the idea that we all share some responsibility about the decisions we make, and I applaud you for yours, it shouldn't be on the implementor to fix. The companies/heads demanding this should be the ones liable, and heavily so.

To make a crude and polarizing comparison, especially since I happen to land somewhat on the other side of that argument:

You can't blame a tool (bat/knife/gun) for what its agent does with it. If one tool doesn't work for them, they'll get it done with something else.

Sadly I suspect corporate decisions get made in a microcosm. Whatever is good for the next quarter or next product. A middle manager would be fired for doing anything else. Or at least reviewed badly. "Sure you did the right thing; but your numbers were down. Sorry no raise/promotion"

So there is no particular person in a corporation that has direct incentive to be responsible.

So we need to change that. We need to make sure there is a heavy stick being used against those that decide to make these unethical decisions.

After all, I was just following orders ...

Yes, I understand that this is the logical followup, but there were individuals standing up to orders and being executed, and it didn't make a lick of difference when the problem was systemic.

As I opened with, yes, to some extent we all share the blame, but appealing to everyone to individually make the difference will never work, because it only takes a few to still get the (dirty) job done. If everyone played nice we wouldn't need any laws.

Still, if there's nobody at the 'top' making decisions (and unless the CEO micromanages there isn't) then we've just moved the problem from Engineers to Middle Managers.

Somebody has to take a stand. In Canada they have an Engineering oath and code of ethics. We should all aspire to be our better selves. After all, we're not being executed; we'll just have to find another contract.

Sure, but I as an engineer can't control a middle manager, but a CEO most definitely can. If you make the CEO liable, he/she sure as hell will move the incentives towards better practices.

Ideally I absolutely agree with you, and we should all strive for the best and make a stand wherever possible, but the cynic in me believes that it can never completely solve the issues, just shift the burden to someone else down the line.

Its not so much that a company wants to do wrong things.

Not to be nit-picky but in this situation the company specifically asked you to do the wrong thing it wanted done.

Right, conceded. But it won't happen unless someone is willing; that's my point.

Yeah your right, and with one company and 100's of employees with families to feed, there is always someone willing to do it.

I highly encourage whistleblowing in situations like this.

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