What is Ethical Software?

Why do we need a new software concept?

The basic idea behind this new concept was derived from the conclusion that the concept of Free Software lacks some important characteristics.

Without any doubt, Free Software is a great concept. But making software free is not enough. Free Software is still free if it is inaccesible, not produced under fair conditions or if it discriminates against people or groups. So, Free Software can still be unethical. That’s why it is time for a more holistic concept called Ethical Software. Ethical Software unites five major properties: It must be free, accessible, fair, non-malicious and non-discriminatory:

  • Ethical Software is Free Software: Ethical Software must be Free Software as defined by the Free Software Foundation.
  • Ethical Software is accessible: Ethical Software must be accessible as defined by the Section 508 Standard or – in case of web based software – as defined by the WCAG.
  • Ethical Software is fair: Ethical Software must be fair as defined by the Fairtrade International Fairtrade Standards.
  • Ethical Software is non-malicious: Ethical Software must bei non-malicious. That means that its code must not contain any intentionally built-in malicious functions that might harm users.
  • Ethical Software is non-discriminatory: Ethical Software must be non-discriminatory. That means that its content must not discriminate against anyone. For example, a digital Nazi encyclopedia denying the Holocaust would be unethical.

Why doesn’t Ethical Software forbid the use of software for unethical purposes?

We agree that Ethical Software should not be used for unethical purposes like military purposes. But forbidding a certain use of software would contradict the first property of Ethical Software. A software which is limited in use can’t be Free Software at the same time.

What is the goal of The Ethical Software Community?

Almost all software fails to meet all these criteria. The Ethical Software Community‘s aim is to change that. We dedicate our efforts to writing Ethical Software.

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