Writing 04: Whistleblowing

This week’s readings really convinced me of the importance in intensely evaluating the  consequences of software engineering and those who lead projects, especially when involving human life so closely. I certainly do not think that the failures we looked at this week were merely technical accidents. When these accidents took place, there was weak leadership somewhere along the software implementation pipeline. With the Challenger, the leaders should have recognized the danger apparent and halted the mission, regardless of other motives to launch quickly for financial gain. For the radiation madian, there should have been many more checks along the line before the product was implemented in hospitals. There should have been multiple programmers working on the machine instead of the one novice programmer they had. In addition, the FDA should have investigated the project more than they did. 

The line when to whistleblow is hard to draw. In the case of Edward Snowden, I believe he was a hero in releasing the information to give the general public a sense of awareness in addition to putting the government in check. However, I really struggle whether I feel Manning was in the right. While I certainly see the value of sharing our military’s actions with the public, I believe her exposal of the video footage posed a real threat to national security and peace efforts. I believe in this case, it would have been better to share information internally so that it would be dealt with properly instead of releasing it for the entire world. I think that it is important to never remain silent. I firmly believe in the saying “if you see something, say something” but I think the audience of who you share your information with is important. When Manning released the information about the government, there could have potentially been better ways to release it than to the entire world. 

I definitely think whistleblowers should be protected if they truly are trying to help the greater good. If the whistleblower is just releasing data to expose someone for something but aren’t helping anyone in the process, I don’t think they should be protected. Looking at someone like Snowden or whoever blew the whistle most recently on the Ukraine records, there should certainly be protection. We all know the government is corrupt and therefore need whistleblowers to keep them in line. Though I wish this wasn’t the case, it is an important part of our democracy and those who have the courage to break the law, should. In another one of my courses, the professor talked about the importance of pursuing justice. We specifically studied Martin Luther King and “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” which he wrote after being imprisoned for parading. Though he technically didn’t break a law, he understood the importance of pursuing justice at all costs, regardless if he would be imprisoned. Sometimes, laws reflect justice and sometimes they do not. Regardless, it is important to pursue justice for the sake of bettering humanity, even if one must break the law.