Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hacktivism 101

Hacktivism. I'm not sure people who are involved in this activity like the word. But ... it's a clever portmanteau and you can go about your business and leave it at that. But I cannot. For the last few days I've become obsessed with reading as much as I can about the topic. [If you know me at all, you know how I am. I'm that girl who discovered Somerset Maugham and bought all the books. I'm a selective completist.]

I've been aware of vigilante hacking and always seemed to mentally back-burner the idea. But I got hooked. It happened about 2 in the morning during yet another insomnia episode. It was one of the few times I was glad to be wide awake in the middle of the night. Someone tweeted something about a Gawker link to a Westboro interview something-or-other. As much as I hate the new Gawker site, I couldn't help it ... CLICK! "Oh gosh. This looks like a smackdown I'm going to love," I thought.

And that was pretty much it for the night.

[If you're reading this, we know each other from twitter or facebook, most likely, and I don't want to be redundant so I won't embed the videos but will link instead.]

So there was this: Anonymous Hacks Westboro Baptist Church Website During Live Confrontation. Do I even need to qualify this with how bat-shit Westboro is? That they're not a religious group as much as they are a cult. That they are so egregiously grotesque that opposing hacktivists can agree that they should be taken down.

The radio spot was fascinating. Transfixing. I despise Westboro and I really admired the poise and calm of the Anonymous representative. Further, how could you not admire the calm cool collectedness of an organization who refused to engage and then decided to silence that little barnacle with a -BLAM!- all your sites belong to us, kind of move. Impressive. Like having a Maserati and not feeling the need to race it down the street.

And it started a few days and nights of surfing the net, learning about Anonymous, the Jester, how they are alike, how they are philosophically opposed, finally learning more about Wiki-Leaks, and following a number of Anonymous-related accounts on twitter.

That's it for now. I'm sure the next post will be full of links and ideas and loops of ethical internal conversations. I just wanted to update you about where I'm at.


Podblack said...

'Anonymous - terrorists or the voice of the people?' was a debate topic for my Philosophy students last year, when we looked at the topic of justice. Many of them weren't aware of this particular news item, which surprised me:
Australia creating a 'cyber-warfare centre' in response to DDoS attacks by Anonymous on the Australian government in response to proposed internet censorship laws in 2010.
Since there has recently (yesterday!) been a ruling that an ISP is not responsible for the activities of its users, it's fairly certain that Anonymous will be interested in developments in that regard:

Podblack said...

...and if I was teaching the subject now, I would give my students this to read: