Are We Bound by a Code of Ethics?

My last post got me thinking about ethics within our industry.   Our profession does not have an absolute code of ethics, but should there be one?   Policemen, doctors, psychologists, are just a few of professions that are bound by a code which they live by.  For example, if a doctor is in a grocery store, and someone in that store has a heart attack, their code of ethics states it is their responsibility to administer CPR until more medical attention arrives.

The problem as I see it is that there is not a single organization to which governs us.  Furthermore, those organizations that do exist, like the Association on Software Testing (AST) and American Society for Quality, are "volunteer organizations".  Without a recognized single organization, it is hard to mandate a code of ethics.  I know the AST has a code, but not all testers are required to be members in order to practice software testing.   

A code is not something that you live by 8 hours a day; it is something you live by every hour of every day.  Which leads me into another question: As professional testers (notice I say professional testers, as there are testers who do not view this as a career path), should we report bugs that we find while off-the-job?  Are we ever off-duty?  On one side, if we report every bug we find, we may not have time to get anything else done.  On the other hand, if we do report defects, I think this would bring more legitimacy to our profession, something I feel we desperately need.   

Personally, I try to categorize the level of severity of the bug, although this can be difficult to do without knowing the business and technical requirements- a true black box if you will.  For example, if it's a typo, I probably will not report it, unless I have time.  If the bug is within a purchase path of an application, as was my experience with Delta, I will go ahead and submit a defect report to them.  (I did tell Delta about their bug, but as of this writing, have not heard a response).  Now, whether or not the company chooses to act on my submittal is up to them. 

Should there be an absolute code of ethics for professional testers?  Do you feel ethically bound to report a defect that you found while off-the-job?  Do you report bugs while off-the-job?  Does severity play a role in whether or not you report it?  

PS- I do not report bugs for any Microsoft software, regardless of severity; I simply don’t have enough time. Not to mention, they have a vast amount of testers for this.