View Full Version : Moral dillema

08-12-2004, 09:51 AM
Man oh man did my moral issues concerning programming get tested today.

I think I did what most of us here probably would have done.

Here was my situation:

I was mucking around with my cell phone at work and turned the phone security on. So I thought no biggie I can get out of anything on the phone, right?? Wrong. I forgot the security code. So when I failed at it 3 times it then asked me for the PUK code or the personal unlock key. Little did I know that this key could only be provided by your service provider. So I proceed to put in the wrong code about 5 times and whammo the whole thing locks up and says SIM card rejected. At this point I'm thinkin no biggie just turn it off, disconnect the power, and......you guessed it, it didn't help. So I was FUBARed big time.

I go to Cingular to get it fixed and they say no biggie. I buy a new SIM card for about 25 bucks, he programs it and then sticks it in my phone. It then asks for the security code and he asks me for it. Well.....since I got here in the first place because I forgot the stupid thing....my phone was locked out with no way to get in.

So we try default codes and other codes....nothing. I take the phone apart....still nothing. So I think, hey I'm a good programmer I'll just see what I can find. I do a lot of research and find out there are data cables (not authorized by Nokia of course) for lots of phones (not just Nokia). Also I find that there are 9 locks on all phones and you can disable them as well, as well as enable all kinds of hidden features. Heck some phones can be used as radar detectors.....no kidding.

Then I realize I also know assembly language and so I go about looking for phone memory addresses. Turns out some guy has hacked mine and found out where the code starts. Even though the code is in Java....it's all assembly later...like I always say.

My dilemma though is this. I'm not a hacker and I pay for my cell phone service...even though now I have information that could change all of that. As well there are certain locks that they should not be able to do since it is my phone. One of them is SIM card lock....which is what SIM card rejected means. This lock is so that someone else cannot use another person's SIM card in your phone. Your SIM card holds your phone number and service info on it. But since its your phone....this does not seem fair. As well there is a country code lock on it and several other locks. I find all the codes for my phone and try them....they work except some cannot be undone because I entered the wrong codes at work 2 many times. Now all that can be done is a hardware to hardware reset of that code - via PC or some other device. There are thousands of cables out there and they are pretty cheap and I have software that will alter a lot of stuff for phones (I found it on the net).

The problem
But again, I'm not a hacker and I don't want to be one. I'd rather pay for a new phone, because it was my fault after all, than hack into mine. But the new phone is like 190 bucks and the cable is only 20 bucks. Also if Nokia takes my phone they will do a hardware reset and I will lose all the phone numbers in it.

So what did I do?

I turned the phone into Nokia tech support for repair. Losing all those numbers is nothing next to losing my integrity on an issue I feel so strongly about. So, all in all guys I love assembly language, C, and I love programming in general, but I'm not a hacker....even when it really is a legitimate hack that's not illegal and that helps me out quite a bit. Hacking into my phone is not illegal and unlocking it is not illegal (changing the serial # is), but hacking is not what I do. I must say that it was a very tough decision because after all why should I have to suffer for 1 mistake or because the software designers failed to see this situation when they coded it for the phone?
I shouldn't, but that does not make hacking into it any less of a violation of my ethics.

But....from a programming standpoint....I must go through all this crap just because of one stinking variable. :)

char *code="IMFUBARED"


char *default_code="12345"
char *code=default_code;

Thats the only thing keeping me from getting into my phone.....crazy.

What would you guys have done? I'm not patting myself on the back here....I'm just saying that is how strongly I believe that programming serves a purpose....and hacking is not one of em.

08-12-2004, 10:27 AM
hmm... could you not have come to an agreement with the local Nokia management to perform repairs on your own phone, after their techs have cleared them, and with a suitable limitation of liability on their part?

08-12-2004, 10:29 AM
Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the moral dillema. If you had bought the cable and reset the security code so that you could use your phone again, you have not harmed the cell phone company.

If you were considering using the cable to change your number, or get free service that would be unethical. But using your skills and talents to fix a problem. You own the phone, changing the security code does not /should not violate your contract with the phone company to pay for the service they provide (dial tone).

08-12-2004, 10:44 AM
I believe the moral dilemma would lie in the license agreement, which probably forbids such alterations whether or not they are truly unethical.

Still, Bubba, have you considered that the terms hack (http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/H/hack.html) and hacker (http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/H/hacker.html) do not necessarily have negative connotations?

08-12-2004, 12:28 PM
Yeah dude, its your phone afterall - you have paid for it, its your property, therefore you could do whatever you want with it, to it, or whatever. Think about it as your own computer. I have unlocked many phones before from different companies to work with my SIM...THEY ARE MY PHONES!

but what you should have done was called your provider; I had a similar situation and they remotely unlocked the SIM for me; this is possible because it was a NOKIA - Ericsson is a whole other story.

08-12-2004, 01:08 PM
I agree that it shouldn't be a big deal because it is your phone, but I do pat you on the back for taking the higher than necessary route purely on principles. It's something I never see anymore.

08-12-2004, 01:13 PM
I would have hacked it. You wouldn't have been harming the provider in this situation and I don't think it is unethical.

08-12-2004, 01:53 PM
I would not worry about it Bubba, after all it is your phone. I do not consider what you would be doing as hacking, but merely saving time,money, and trouble. For example, I doubt anyone here considers overclocking your computer "hacking" even though you are basically upping your CPU/GPU/RAM to a level of performance that you would pay a good 50 USD more for.

My opinion : go for it.

08-12-2004, 02:01 PM
I don't see the problem, especially if it's your phone. It's legal and cheap. Just don't change the serial number or set it for free service.

08-12-2004, 02:10 PM
Jeez, Bubba. That's pretty weak. You paid for it, there's absolutely no reason why you can't do anything you want with it.

I think it says something interesting that you felt you owed it to the company to go through their way of doing things, when you very well cuold have fixed everything up and then some from your own home.

>>I think I did what most of us here probably would have done.

Absolutely not. I'm willing to bet that you're one of the only people here who would have even considered doing what you did.

08-12-2004, 02:31 PM
echo everything above... but not only that, it would have been fun to hack into the phone! you would have learned a bunch about a new arch and probably enjoyed victory that much more having done it yourself.

If your intentions are not malicious than its not bad hacking IMO.

08-12-2004, 03:10 PM
Well you can also be blacklisted for doing these things. It is a violation of your contract to do anything to the phone. I'm not sure how that's legal since it is your phone....but no one has complained about it so they get away with it.

Just one more example of what happens when you use someone else's service under their terms. You, the consumer, are not in control of anything you own that uses the service. The only illegal thing I found was changing the serial numbers, etc. However because probing into the phone via software was against my contract I opted not to do it.

08-12-2004, 03:34 PM
i would have got the free service thing and maybe that radar lol, but if your into the "morals" thing, you bought it, the contract is pretty stupid and useless, they prolly wont do anything about self repairing your phone, go for it.

08-12-2004, 05:24 PM
Well, it seems like it would be against the DMCA.

08-12-2004, 07:04 PM
It's your phone. Do whatever you want with it. ANY fine you would get would most likely be less than a new phone anyway.

08-12-2004, 10:03 PM
Well, it seems like it would be against the DMCA.

this is a pretty good point actually; however, that presumes that there is some kind of encryption/copyright protection that you must bypass.

08-12-2004, 10:05 PM
Lurker, although it would make since logically, the DMCA doesn't follow logic. Even if you own a cd of encrypted music/video/whatever, you can not copy the data (which resulted in the bankruptcy of 321 Studios).

08-13-2004, 04:54 AM
free service wont last more than 2-3 days if your lucky any more, so its not worth it. Fines for that are up to about 550.00 american.

Its not like a few years back, when i used to do this for myself and friends. That could go for months and they'd shrug it off, but with advancing technologies and such they arent taking it. You can find a world of information on why this would be a bad decision on the network.


08-14-2004, 04:32 AM
Also just because it is my phone and just like all these computer games are mine,....does not mean I have the right to view the source code, alter it, hack it, or change it to suit my needs. Clearly a violation of ethical programming practices IMO.

08-14-2004, 05:18 AM
just because it is my phone and just like all these computer games are mine,....does not mean I have the right to view the source code, alter it, hack it, or change it to suit my needs. Clearly a violation of ethical programming practices
... unless the license under which the software is released permits such actions.

Though I think that just viewing source code probably isnt unethical, even if the license prohibits it, looking it from the perspective that the reason for trying to prohibit viewing of source code is in an attempt to deter people from altering source code.

08-14-2004, 09:58 AM
Here is the thing: even if everyone else thinks its ok, if you feel its wrong then don't do it.

08-14-2004, 04:40 PM
Good Job Dude, More people should take the moral high road.


Zach L.
08-14-2004, 05:01 PM
Regardless of whether it was legal or not, good job on doing what you thought was right, rather than what you thought would be convenient.

08-15-2004, 10:04 AM
Good Job Dude, More people should take the moral high road.


:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

08-15-2004, 03:16 PM
I too admire the trouble you're going to to do the right thing, but having read that entire post, is it not just easier to buy a new phone? But to answer your question: personally, I don't think there's anything ethically wrong with what you're doing, but as laserlight pointed out, the license agreements may prevent you, thus making it unethical. But I think if they sue you, this thread should be used as evidence - it definately shows your inentions.

08-15-2004, 07:25 PM
yea there prolly is code altering in the contract, but they wont know if you view the code, copy it, paste it in the computer and find out what does what.

08-15-2004, 08:30 PM
Radar Detector....enough said. Though lightsaber would be better. (yes I a mserious about that)

08-16-2004, 10:57 AM
That's why the subject is MORAL dilemma. They'll probably never find out even if he DOES alter the code. Radar detectors are fun though...

08-16-2004, 12:31 PM
But character, to me, is not about what you do when others are around...its what you do when no one is looking. Perhaps I'm wrong.

So even if they didn't find out....I just didn't think I could feel good about myself hacking into a stupid cell phone simply to get a code out....that I put in there....and simply forgot like a moron.

08-16-2004, 08:23 PM
Having moral issues -KEN-???


08-17-2004, 06:06 PM
Could someone please explain what happened in dumb terms? I tried to read it through a couple of times, but I don't understand. You got locked out of your phone and figured out how to unlock it but didn't?

08-18-2004, 01:44 AM
Basically, yes. He also found out how to turn his phone into a radar detector.

08-18-2004, 03:44 PM
Actually its not my phone but certain Nokia models actually have this programmed into their software. Call it an easter egg or call it ridiculous but the designers have put the functionality in there for one reason or another.

08-18-2004, 06:58 PM
Cool. Yeah I looked into that phreaking or whatever they call it these days. Way too confusing for me.

08-21-2004, 04:56 PM
Having moral issues -KEN-???


No, I just find anybody who thinks that there is a serious moral issue inherent in tinkering with your OWN CELLPHONE laughable. Rolleyesable, anyhow.

Off topic, but what's immoral, or at least unethical, is the fact that your provider attempts to lock THE CELLPHONE THAT YOU BOUGHT to their service only.

08-21-2004, 09:33 PM
It doesn't seem that unethical to me to lock a phone to a certain provider when 9 times out of 10 a phone is bought in conjunction with a service plan.

08-22-2004, 07:53 AM
It doesn't seem that unethical to me to lock a phone to a certain provider when 9 times out of 10 a phone is bought in conjunction with a service plan.

I am not sure about you, but if I buy one of the new-fangles 200+ USD phones, I think I better damn well be able to take it to any other service provider I want to.

08-22-2004, 10:03 AM
I think what draco was trying to say is that when you buy a phone you ussally get some sorta deal off the price of the phone if you go with this service provider

08-22-2004, 02:38 PM
You're correct prog, that is what I was saying. Since I must be hard to understand, I'm glad you got what I meant :rolleyes:

08-22-2004, 03:09 PM
Which presents an interesting question: Let us, for the sake of argument, say that the phone company is doing something unethical by locking your phone to them, but that you went ahead and signed the contract anyway. Is it, then, unethical to unlock your phone?

It might be questionable to be unlocking your phone if your contract specifically calls on you not to, but I'd say that the tactic of locking you to them is of about the same ethical questionability.

Cell phone companies bug the hell out of me.

08-22-2004, 03:23 PM
Or is it unethical, when signing the contract, to sign your name as:

"Screw This"