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Is Hacktivism Robin Hood Politics? 188

deran9ed writes "After reading an article at Guardian Unlimited, I wondered what was Slashdot's viewers' thoughts on "Hacktivism", the act of hacking for a so called cause, according to a Guardian Unlimited article: Once hacking was regarded as the pastime of attention-grabbing nerds. But a meeting at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London will be told how credible an activity it has become in the era of direct action. Old-fashioned hacking, the meeting will hear, has given way to hacktivism: a highly politicised underground movement using direct action in cyberspace to attack globalisation and corporate domination of the internet. Either way you cut the cake its still illegal, but is it along the realms of say the Vietnam Era protests, or are hacktivist using this term to promote themselves." The vast majority of so called "Hactivism" just isn't. I think that in most cases the intentions are good, but the folks capable of, say, defacing a website, usually aren't the same folks able to intelligently communicate a message. Instead of looking like political activists staging a sit-in, they look like angry teens spraying graffiti obscenities on a wall which does far more damage then good.
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Is Hacktivism Robin Hood Politics?

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  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:26AM (#376648) Homepage
    In the UK 'hacktivism' is the current media vogue. There was an hour long TV programme about it recently.

    The most 'hacky' person they could find was someone that wrote a VB script that accessed a web site every 7 seconds... This 'notorious hacker' (:/) explained "we had thousands of people doing this to a website and we certainly made our point!". Well 7000 hits/second isn't a particularly huge load to a big commercial website (I'd bet gets a hell of a lot more than that in normal traffic). Also writing VB script to load a web page isn't 'hacking' it's called 'typing in the example program'.

    I'd love to know why all the self-confessed 'geeks' on the programme seemed to have green hair????

    As usual the media trying to create something that doesn't really exist, and missing the point entirely.
  • by Skip666Kent ( 4128 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @11:30AM (#376649)
    Ever since the 'Battle' of Seattle, activism has grown in popularity to fill the gap left by the Grateful Dead ever since the death of Jerry Garcia.

    Plane-loads of adolescents and stunted adults dazed with their own self-importance now tour the world chasing WTO type events wherever they can find them, spurned on by the Internet Activist pop-culture hero of the week or month.

    You probably won't find them in Indonesia, though, protesting indiscriminate inter-tribal slaughter or anything like that. They like the more media-friendly events where they hope to become counter-cultural icons themselves, and get pissed when their childish antics fail to make the front page (Joan What's-her-tits).

    Oh well!

  • >Boycotts don't work anymore

    Worth avoiding certain companies when you can though.
    Or products from countries with human rights problems (turkey, china, texas *g*)
  • > Almonds are not nuts. The correct term for an
    > almond is "almond."

    Since we're being sarcastically correct, actually, peanuts are not nuts, either. The correct term for "peanut" is "peanut". A peanut does fit the description of a relatively small husk around the seed, but it is technically a legume. So, surprisingly, Charlie Brown and the character played by Rowan Atkinson are of the same kind. Almonds are not, though, being the kernel of a peach-like fruit. However, because they may be used as a nut, they are nutty. QED

    However, it is perfectly correct to refer to a nut as a nut, even if the exact kind is known. One need not be specific in written or verbal exposition.

  • One of the most famous examples of civil disobedience was very destructive. The Boston Sons of Liberty dressed up as Indians, boarded several ships of the British East India Company and dumped what would be millions of today's dollars of tea into the harbor. The Brits were so enraged they ordered a naval blockade of the harbor until the entire city of Boston paid reparations. (Nyah nyah England, we all know who won that one :)

    Sometimes destruction is necessary when the injustice is serious enough. Though I would draw the line at committing crimes against property versus crimes against the person. It's one thing to destroy property, it's another to physically harm another human being.

  • Right, nothing totalitarian about getting spit on, punched, blasted with a firehose.

    You can have that kind of stuff done to you in Seattle. That's not totalitarian. A totalitarian regime would likely have you and possibly your family executed for voicing an opinion that contradicts that of the government. Stage a peaceful sit-in, and you will disappear. You are obviously not talking about the same thing as the original post. Maybe you wouldn't mind being a martyr (which usually doesn't happen anyway since you will likely just disappear), but many people would rather live to see the changes they fight for.

  • I would suggest you read my comment on the first post, but if you were to break into a system and rm -rf the fucker that would cost lots of money. And since a corperations #1 priority is money they will listen when their pocket book hurts. And I would say defacing a website is to a banner hang as rm'ing is to a brick through the window. One is for a message and one is for direct economic impact. And saying "gr33Tz" to someone is not hactivism, thats hax0ring btw.
  • Well, back in the day I was a geek kid w/ green hair. And blue, and red, and orange, and... Now that I have a real job & all, it's back to normal. But just because you're a geek doesn't mean you can't look different.

    jred []
  • It is not and has not been the policy of the US government to shoot at kids protesting as happened at Kent State, yes they did do it but it was not ordered by the president or other high up folks. While the Chinese Politburo did order the army to run down the kids at Tianamen square. That is a huge moral difference.
  • Isn't the goal justice? Justice does not well mind straight absolute lines.
  • Consider a corporation that produces an AIDS cure, patents it, and sells it for oo-gobs of money which would make it difficult for those from poorer countries to get a hold of it. Now imagine that somehow you were able to figure out a way that people with the right materials could create the cure on their own without as much cost.
    Imagine? []
    Imagine? []
    Imagine? []
    No need to Imagine []

  • I sort of agree with a little bit of a different slant. The only excuse for an extreme act (by extreme, I mean breaking the law) is success. If you change the system for the better, then it was justified. If you expose internal documents that show the truth that a corp or gov was hiding, and the masses are informed, then it was justified. If a 'hack' only annoys / angers the public and the system, then the opposite effect is generated. The ends justify the means, but only if the right ends are met.
  • If you ask me, generally, activists just want to rebel, riot, break stuff, stand up to authority.... they use their causes of capitalism, opressive goverment, environmentalism, etc etc, as an excuse the be able to do thing that would otherwise be morally unjustifiable.

    'Hacktivists' just want to break into computers and activism is a great way to make them feel karmically okay about it...

    (I'm not saying that all activists are like this, and I'm not saying the causes are unimportant. I'm just saying that a lot of these people are just sheep following the latest fad. 80 it was the environment, 90s it was goverment, now it's corporations. They seem not to care what the issue is as long as they get to break stuff.. be it computer networks or store windows...)

  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @08:32AM (#376661)
    "When was the last time political assassination was called shootivism?"

    Some assassinations are called "democratic revolutions". Some assassinations are called "sentences". Everything is not black and white.
  • to get the full snooty effect of a British media drone saying "Hacktivism" in a pronounced British tone. Damn near shot milk through my nose.

    Oh, and you "wondered what was Slashdot's viewers' thoughts on 'Hacktivism'"? We like it.

  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @08:35AM (#376663)
    "There's a big difference between staging a sit-in and defacing someone's property."

    And there is also a difference between defacing "property" and defacing a website. If no data is lost, what exactly is the damage done? The damage is some denial of service, and clean up aftwards. Not unlike sit-ins.
  • by Lando ( 9348 ) <lando2+slash@gmail. c o m> on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:27AM (#376664) Homepage Journal
    Hacking is hacking, criminals are criminals. The normal "press" may not understand that, but surely a majority of people on this site do.

    When was the last time political assassination was called shootivism?

    Rant Off

  • The only difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: one's on our side. The assorted Palestinian groups are freedom fighters, but because "our side" happens to be Israel, the US media brands them as terrorists.

    The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist is that the freedom fighter fights against military and political targets while a terrorist attacks innocents. When someone blows up people standing in a crosswalk [] it's terrorism. Not that I'm excusing the fundamentally racist government that is in place in Isael, not am I condoning the generally poor way in which the Arabs are treated by the Jews in that region. There are two sides to every story, but they can both be in the wrong.

  • > A cracker is somebody who cracks warez, and/or a
    > pejorative term for a white person. Any other
    > meaning is never going to catch on in the media

    What about graham crackers?

  • Hitler would have been evil regardless of whether he won or lost WWII. That you could think otherwise is amazing!
  • No, there is no copy protection to crack. Instead, they are hacking into a computer remotely.
  • I like the idea of being able to stick it to the evil I see in the world. but the flip side is that it is already being done against us as well. As Metalica stated we will find a way to fuck with it, People who want to force copy protection already piss all over the free speech, free press, any and all laws they don't like, Ask any one who ever been SLAPed for being an activist. The Argument needs to move from using ones hacking skills to stop or start something to what is the being stopped or started.
  • Does anyone else see the irony in this statement:

    > Funny, I prefer to use an accurate term, whether
    > I like them or not. The names people make up for
    > themselves are usually misleading.

    following this one:

    >Just because one subculture adopts a word doesn't
    > mean that they gain a monopoly on it.


    If I say I'm a hacktivist genderqueer boidyke with an oxford cloth fetish, how the heck are you supposed to argue that that doesn't accurately describe what I am, if no one has a monopoly on the meanings of those words?

  • > Want to boycott RJR Nabisco? No more Kraft Mac and Cheeze for you! Disney? May as well turn off the TV. Sony? Forgetabout it.

    Omygod. You are okay to boycott *only* if it is easy ? You think that a boycott is just consumer choice ? You agree to refuse to boycott de-facto monopolies, because it may hurt your comfort ?

    Of course, you are in line with slashdot. CmdrTaco that still runs windows ("For the games"), and got all wet at the idea of Diablo II.

    All this is fake. The real problem is that you don't have any cause you feel strong enought to fight for. Hey, I don't have either. I sorta boycott things I don't like (Television, Disney, FastFoods, Microsoft, Intel, Sony). And, frankly, it doesn't cost me much. Half-baked boycott.

    > I imagine many people are boycotting DVDs or CDs due to the MPAA/RIAA

    No, they are not. Most of them are boycotting DVDs or CDs cause they can get the for free (as-in-beer) on the net.

    > These groups can easily claim that lack of sales was not due to boycotts [...]

    Claims made by those groups have *never* needed to bear any relation with reality. They have an advantage to say that sales declines so they can push new laws throught the American Congress (which I don't care about), and the WTO (which I do care about). They already did this for TV, and for Video. In every case, (MP|RI)AA will pretend that they lost obscene amounts of money, and that they have god-given right to profit on all entertainment and IP. "ALL YOUR NET MUSIC ARE BELONG TO US" kind of thing. They'll probably win...


  • Posting as Anonymous Coward is also fairly chicken.
  • surely you mean cracktivism!
    Hear, hear. If it's illegal, it isn't hacking; it's vandalism, burglary, forgery, etc.
  • Replace hacktivism with cracktivism when referring to one person's breaking into a system and defacing and/or destroying it. Call it Cyber Terrorism when a political group seeks to deface/destroy a ruling parties' systems for said country in which the terrorism occurs. And call it Civil Cyber Disobedience (aka - Hacktivism) when a group perpetuates the 'illegal' activities in mass when they disagree with a certain law or form of law (DMCA, CSS) that seeks to circumvent that which the group deems inhumanitarian or a spit in the face of fundamental rights as defined by previous law.
  • And what exactly is the damage done in defacing physical property? None, according to your logic. If no tomatos or cucumbers are lost, what exactly is the damage done by spraypainting grafitti on the side of a grocery store? I guess when you have no morals any second-rate excuse will do to justify yourself before your equally reprobate peers.
  • In my experience reporters flock to the idiots. I'm not sure why. I think perhaps it's the standard 'idiots talk louder' though there's a kind of sense of 'the reporters choose the idiots to make all protesters look bad' meme going around, that I'm not completely willing to ignore, either.

    Just needed to point out that not all activists are idiots, as too many (including my gf) have felt it necessary to tell me in the last few weeks.

  • But what is destroyed by a DOS attack or replacing a web page while keeping a copy of the original version?

    One obvious difference is that a DoS attack generally involves doing damage to innocent bystanders. DoS often involve hijacking the computer of an innocent third party to use in the actual attack and also causing a big mess for all of the routers between the attacker and the victim. IIRC a lot of web site defacers also break into third party computers to do their dirty work.

    That points to another, IMO crucial, difference- that people involved in a sit in are actually personally involved. They're risking arrest and injury to make their point. DoS kiddies and web site defacers, OTOH, generally take pains to avoid being identifiable. Part of the reason that they involve third parties is to avoid being identified. There's a huge moral gap between somebody who is willing to risk arrest for what he stands for and somebody who is willing to damage a third party's property to avoid detection. One is heroic and the other is cowardly.

  • "I'd love to know why all the self-confessed 'geeks' on the programme seemed to have green hair????"

    Because having colored hair is "edgy". Didn't you attend Eleet Hacking 101?
  • I engaged in a bit of Hacktivism in 1997, when I learned enough perl and html in a week and a half to build this class list search. [] I was angry at the time, because our IT shop had been outsourced and the forward thinking negotiators had left web development out. I built the application and supporting processes to demonstrate that the web had great potential for serving our customers (students) The college home page hasn't changed much in 4 years, but I check from time to time to see if that search is still there. They've goofed it up a little, but it's still there. I consider that the ultimate demonstration that I had a valid point. I left a couple months after its completion.


  • Who said hacktivism is legal? I think it's akin to civil disobediance. That's not legal...but it's a political statement. At least "hacktivists" are taking their angst and frustration out for "noble" causes (yeah yeah moral relativism) least it's better than just defrauding the neighborhood bank.
  • Real "activism" (read: civil disobedience) is closely related to a very specific problem. For instance, if the law being protested is "no blacks sitting on the bus" then the protest should be "blacks sitting on the bus". If the protested action is "trees being cut down" the protest should be "make cutting down trees difficult, e.g. tie humans to trees".

    What do we see with "hacktivists"? Protested party: "we don't like Microsoft" (non-specific problem). Protest: "deface/degrade their website" (unrelated to problem).

    REAL "hacktivism" would have to involve a venture (business, government system, etc) that is conducted online. For instance, the protested action could be something like "they are making our medical records available on the web" or "uunet's mail servers are all spam relays". THEN the protest can take direct action against this specific problem. (and the "direct action" may be defacement or denial of service attacks--but make sure they are directly relevant the protested action) For instance, start using uunets relays to mailbomb uunet customers, employees and management.

    In short, it's not the technology that makes it activism, it's the active and direct action that makes it so. If you are missing those factors, it's not hacktivism.
    Non-meta-modded "Overrated" mods are killing Slashdot
  • <sarcasm>

    Almonds are not nuts. The correct term for an almond is "almond."

    Crazy people are not nuts. The correct term for a crazy person is "a person with a neurological disorder."

    Automobile wheels are not held in place by lug nuts. The correct term is "hexagonal wheel retainment device."

    There is no such thing as a "hard nut to crack." The correct term is "a difficult problem."

    You aren't scratching your nuts as you read this. The correct term is "testicles."

    The only correct usage of the word "nut" is when speaking of a variety, of uknown name, of a fatty edible vegetable seed having a hard exterior shell, said seed being of such size that the volume of the portion inside the shell matches or exceeds the volume of the shell itself. If the shell has been removed, it is permissible to say "the kernel of a nut," but again, only if the true correct name of the seed is unknown.


  • Robin Hood is a historic figure, however he was not the hero most people believe. He was in fact leader of the English equivalent of a Militia. His band of criminals were basically a group of tax-avoiding hoodlums similar to the Mob in the USA. So point one:

    Robin Hood was a criminal, and is not a role model.

    Secondly. Vietnam era activism was arguably a morally valid pursuit. Real people were being murdered for no crime other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. McDonald's has not set fire to any villages recently, and Nike is not in the habit of using Napalm on its consumers. I fail to see any parallelism between globalization and war atrocities. Most of these 'activists' are simply spoiled college brats with too much time and energy on their hands, having a tantrum before they settle down to their cosy middle-class existance.

    Thirdly defacing a web site is not 'hacking'. It requires almost zero skill, and any reasonably competent CS undergrad could do it with no trouble at all. These people are talented. But they are not hackers. The true hackers are people like Linus, RMS, Alan Cox, Stroustrup, Kernihan, Richie, Pike, Van Jacobsen, Stevens, etc etc. It is the ultimate INSULT that a nerd site like slashdot is unable to make the distinction.

    Defacers are CRACKERS NOT HACKERS. Is this clear enough for you ?

  • All these people that get bent out of shape about how "hacker" is used for cracking don't seem to get that language evolves and changes over time. You can't fight it, you just sound like a bunch of nit-pickers. Its like the French trying to keep foreign words out of their language, you just can't fight it if thats how millions of people choose to communicate an idea.
  • "I think that in most cases the intentions are good, but the folks capable of, say, defacing a website, usually aren't the same folks able to intelligently communicate a message." then they're not 'hacktivists' are they?! I believe hacktivivsts to be those taking political/social/environmental Action in a digital realm. the self named 'hactivist' movement is born from an old heritage of using direct action in the altruistic struggle for peoples' liberation. the web sites I've seen defaced by 'script kiddies' have been motivated out of selfishness for the their own or their small groups' ego
  • surely you mean cracktivism!
  • A hacker might break into a computer sometimes. When an employee loses the administrator password for a computer, you might have the choice between reinstalling everything on the computer or somehow finding/changing the lost password. The only clean and approved way is to reinstall. The quick and data friendlier hack is to try to break the security. Been there, got permission, hacked that.

    A cracker specializes in breaking in. A hacker is more generalized. A cracker without permission is a burglar.

  • I myself am not a particular fan of the Chinese goverment propaganda. I have mixed feelings about impeeding on others freedom of speech, but when it is in such forms of thought oppession (like PRC slander) I think I can look the other direction. Here's a supposed hacked Chinese National Library site from the boys at 2600; The original;
  • CmdrTaco wouldn't be thinking of himself, would he, when he writes "the folks capable of, say, defacing a website, usually aren't the same folks able to intelligently communicate a message."

    Where's the evidence to support your broad claim, Taco?

    Intelligence is multifaceted, and speech isn't only verbal. It's arguable that speech as simple as a nudie pic plastered across a government or corporate site communicates "intelligently": the act says, "Ha!" and the message is lost on no one.

    While it should always be evaluated on a case by case basis, the value of hacktivism lies in denying power its imperial privilege. It is a reminder to those at the top that those at the bottom are not merely consumers or taxpayers, not only the regulated and the controlled, the paying and the paid off; and it speaks of a shortage of fear, which is a drought that power abhors. As rebellion, it recalls the same wild vein in the American spirit that can be traced to the Boston Tea Party.

    That is a vein that no amount of corporate culture can ever bleed dry.
  • I think that in most cases the intentions are good, but the folks capable of, say, defacing a website, usually aren't the same folks able to intelligently communicate a message.
    You mean to communicate a message intelligently. Don't split the infinitive.
    Instead of looking like political activists staging a sit-in, they look like angry teens spraying graffiti obscenities on a wall which does far more damage then good.
    You mean far more damage THAN good. Then is an adverb.
    (I'm kidding here, people.)
    "Here to discuss how the AOL merger will affect consumers is the CEO of AOL."
  • We should probably be careful, after the government's reaction to protestors at Kent State, during the war, how long before they start sending out the national guard to shoot crackers.

    This might be an alarmist reaction, but the government is far more terrified of crackers than they ever were of hippies. What happens when you back a person with a gun into a metaphorical corner?

    (Offtopic: Everytime an American brings up Tianamen square, someone should remind them of Kent state, and how the US reacted to student protesters)
  • Bingo. But you will never be able to talk sense to the young. It's pretty silly really, why not just go have demonstrations in front of the brick and mortar headwuarters of all the evil corporations who are "dominating" the net. I mean, who really cares... they aren't breaking any laws, it's just the way the world works. But then again, the whole destroying someting to prove a point is silly, and generally only your angst filled youth can make sense of it. If you really want to fight them then why not build someting great and use that... sorta like Linus did with Linux.

    Or heck, maybe Linus's time would have been better spent hacking into websites and leaving 1337 messages there...
  • Even the most totalitarian regime can't make everyone 'disappear'. If enough people sit-in, stand up, or otherwise peaceably resist The totalitarians have two choices: kill everyone (and then who would they boss around?) or at least pay lip service to what the protestors want.

    Sure, they can't kill everyone, but there have been plenty of instances in history where they've killed thousands or even millions of people. Now if you don't want to be one of those people who get slaughtered, you can either keep your mouth shut or you can fight your own war against those who would have you killed for voicing your opinion.

    hence the israelis go after the rock throwing palestinis with uzis, then secret police, and they would probably drop a nuke on them if it wouldn't fuck up their own backyard.

    Apples and oranges. We're talking about standing up to your own government, not 2 countries fighting.

  • Who decides what is justified?

    In some countries the job of deciding what is justified falls on a small group of people. This is almost universally regarded as a "bad" thing (except by those people who get to decide).

    However, in most civilized countries questions like these are answered by a complex balance of existing laws and a number of legislative, judicial, and executive bodies that work against each other in the creation of new laws and ordinances and the modification of existing laws. If you are old enough to have taken a civics class you can probably fill in most of the details that correspond with your particular country of origin.

    The reason that this sort of a system is superior to each of us deciding on our own what is justified is quite straightforward. Some people are clearly insane. If we left each of us to determine what is right and wrong, legal and illegal, there would be no stopping those folks that feel that they are justified in shooting up my house and carrying off my wife and child.

    I am sure that Timothy McVey and the punk kid involved in the recent San Diego school shootings both felt that their actions were justified. However, their actions clearly weren't justifiable.

    This does not mean, of course, that the systems that we currently have in place are perfect, and that unjust laws are not created. However, this does not justify our breaking the law, and it certainly doesn't justify the destruction of someone else's property. As long as there are legal means to have your voice be heard that is the strategy that should be employed. If you truly do have a valid point chances are good that others will be interested in what you have to say without the need to turn over any cars, or paint on any walls.

    Unfortunately, immature minds equate violence and political activity. They feel that unless they can burn something down, or paint grafitti on it, that their voice is being ignored. In the end they almost invariably do more harm to their cause than good.

    So, while it is certainly true that each of us has to determine what we believe in, deciding what is justifiable is something that must be decided as a group.

  • Well, the fact that "hey, this is China" was pretty much my point. You would never hear a line like that here, and to the best of my knowledge, no such thing was ever said at Kent State. Furthermore, the real military was never deployed at Kent State, unlike Tianenmen--generally, that's not allowed here by our Constitution. The level of discipline in a National Guard unit and in a regular unit such as those used in Tianenmen are not comparable--it's less easy to believe that regulars got nervous and popped off without orders than it is to believe that weekend warriors did.

    To me, it indicates that the possibility, or even the probability of large scale gunplay was acceptable to the leadership, and that the call they made felt that dead protestors were preferable to a continued occupation of the square. Of course they didn't want a massacre--but it seems clear that they would rather have that than continued embarrasment.

    As far as the quote I chose, that was one of the more restrained ones in the article, despite coming from a general (who was, apparently, conveying Deng's own views, if you read the whole quote). I mean, if I was just interested in picking out bits that sound bad for the government, why wouldn't I have grabbed a gem like: "Give 'em no mercy!" hollers hard-liner Wang Zhen. "The students are nuts if they think this handful of people can overthrow our party and our government!" I'm not sure what more you want--of course I'm citing points in the article that support my argument; I feel that the article as a whole does so, and without simply re-posting the whole thing, there's never going to be a complete telling. Granted, it is Time--but I've read similar analyses in hard copy sources elsewhere.
  • Why do you say that I have been hopelessly misinformed? The idea that I think trade may actualy benifit people. I like Capitalism and a free and democratic state thank you very much. My family is in the USA because they have to be. The Czar tried to kill my great grandparents for the crime of being Jews, they ran and ended up here.

    In the old country (Russia) Jews were at best second class citizens, we got here and someone told us that we could be full citizens of a country, and we have become just that. So yes damn right I want to keep the system the way it is. I'm living in the only country in the world in which there has never been a goverment sponsored Pogrom agenst the Jews.

    You seem to think destroying the US and everything that goes with it would be a good thing. Yet I have not heard anyone say how they would like to see things run after such a feat were somehow to be managed. Well you could have no government, I bet the multinationals would love that. All those pesky rules that they have to live by now would be gone. Afterall with no EPA who cares if you dump this sludge in the river.
  • by micromoog ( 206608 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @09:02AM (#376710)
    the script kiddiot defacer and others I've spoken with use the curtain of "hacktivism" to solely get attention, nothing more.

    Not suprising. General activism attracts these types as well . . . whenever I see the TV news interviewing some protestors at [whatever protest is currently going on in downtown DC], I get the impression that many of them are there to be cool with their friends.

    "Uh, we're protesting, uh, bad corporations, and, uh, the effect on, uh, world politics. Yo, check it out, I got beat up by a cop!"

  • > I think the point was hypocrisy

    That's was exactly it.

    > the poster you responded to may be a nutter who really thinks software is religion

    Not at all, so thanks for using 'may'. I don't use windows and tend to avoid microsoft products, but this is something personal (that started before there was even a Microsof Windows). Note that I don't run linux either, but that it for practical reasons.

    The whole point of the rant was hypocrisy, and I have my share of it too (If I was less hypocrit, I would use *no* microsoft products, I would do a web page about *why* I don't use them, and would actively promote a real boycott, and become a 'nutter who really thinks software is religion' on your radar :-) ).


  • Very rarely acheaves anything. Much of the protest movement these days is interested in what I have seen refered to as "Scoarched Earth" protesting, which is protesting for the sake of protesting and being a general pain in the ass but without any hope of actualy getting anything done. At the end of the day they have not gotten what they want or even part of what they want they have mostly just been a pain in everyone's neck.

    I don't think the so called "Hacktavists" are in any way advancing a cause they are just being political vandals.
  • by alexjohns ( 53323 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:41AM (#376718) Journal
    The vast majority of so called "Hactivism" just isn't. I think that in most cases the intentions are good, but the folks capable of, say, defacing a website, usually aren't the same folks able to intelligently communicate a message. Instead of looking like political activists staging a sit-in, they look like angry teens spraying graffiti obscenities on a wall which does far more damage then good.
    It's more likely the other way around. People hacking websites for fun, then adding hacktivistic messages so they can say they were doing something for a cause instead of just doing something because they wanted to. Every time I see a 'defaced' website, I figure it's just someone hacking around for fun. I doubt that the majority of people that do this kind of stuff are on a moral crusade. If you're having fun and can then give your actions an air of legitimacy by adding some political messages...

    Whenever I see protests against the WTO or its ilk, I always think that the most extreme people are just being 'hooligans', so to speak. They're not there because they have a legitimate desire to effect change, but because it gives them an excuse to act up. I think in this case they're giving too much credit to the online graffiti artists. Or, perhaps I'm just being too cynical.
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @12:29PM (#376719)
    The real danger here is that halo-touting self-proclaimed 'hacktivists' will be given an altogether different label: terrorists.

    That's because they are terrorists.

    I'm sorry, but burning your draft card and marching in protest of an unjust war is one thing. Vandalism of somebody else's property, motivated by unjustified anger for daring to (gasp!) open a factory in Hong Kong, is completely different. In the first case, we are talking about conciencious objection and free speech against excessive military force, in the second, we are talking about cowardly attacks on the institutions which create the economy that allows you the free time to commit these childish crimes.

    Go ahead, mod me down as "flamebait" if you are so inclined... as if I give a fuck about what some isolationist, paranoid, hot-headed, jobless web-vandal thinks.

    Real hackers are typically working as consultants to global companies, not wrecking their stuff.

  • > Shouldn't this be Cracktivism?

    Maybe so, but IMO "hacktivism" is hurting The Man more than "cracktivism" is.

  • I think activities online are pretty much the same as they are offline:

    Hactivism is when you illegally deface or otherwise impede with a computer system as a means of protest. Just like during the '60s/'70s, there are some people who are doing it out of righteous indignation, and others who are just excited about blowing things up.

    Cyberterrorism is when you do the same thing, but you're not a college kid.

    Covert Action is when the government does it.

  • Who decides what is justified?

    I'll trust my conscience and my conscience alone.

    I will not believe something is or is not justified simply because someone or something else ("public morale") disagrees with me.

    In reality, delegating responsibility from an individual to a collective is not possible and should not be used as an excuse.

  • by KlomDark ( 6370 )
    Aren't kettles already black? Would this be the same as 'painting the sky blue' or 'painting dirt a brownish color' or 'painting Grimace purple'??
  • Not what I was saying at all. I understand that many of the people involved in protests are actually protesting. I figure that the most extreme protesters, the ones doing most of the damage and coincidentally actually hurting people, are people who like to do that sort of thing (destruction) and are latching on to a cause to 'allow' them to do nasty things.

    Soccer hooligans generally don't go to matches to watch the game - they're there to fight. At least they have a love (although expressed in a not-so-nice way) for soccer. Many of the most extreme 'I-want-to-destroy-things' people probably don't care much about which cause they're associated with. IMO.

    That's what I meant in my original post. It's the extremes that cause people to dismiss protesters (and, by association, the protest itself) as nothing more than a bunch of punk kids who have no self-control. The fact that many (perhaps most) protests have a legitimate message underneath all the violence gets lost in the noise. It's the reason that Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered in a much better light than Malcolm X and the reason that MLK's message is remembered better. (Not by everyone and I'm sure you have good reasons why Malcolm X was a better activist than MLK. Fine. Whatever.)

    Also, if you don't accept the major media outlet's reporting, who do you believe in. The tabloids? Drudge? There's a really good independent (PBS-like) TV station here in the DC area - WNVC out of Fairfax. They show newsprograms from around the world. They often have a different slant on things, but I've never yet caught Brokaw or their ilk in a lie. You dismiss the major news outlets because they don't focus on what you want them to focus on. Doesn't mean the rest of us are sheep. Although I understand why you need to think of us as such. Let's talk again when you grow up.
  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @07:56AM (#376734) Homepage Journal
    ...they always mean "Distinctions between one kind of egg and another are never relevant".

    And it's just *never* true. The assertion that "criminals are criminals" mindlessly lumps in Nelson Mandela with Jeffery Dahmer. "Hacking is hacking" puts RMS in the same category as RTM.

    As it happens, I'm generally against breaking into computer systems as a political act; I just thought you should know that statements like "criminals are criminals" is a big flag that you're going to be talking nonsense.
  • I've felt that Hacktivism was in acts such as creating DeCSS. The internet (overrated in this context) is merely the medium of distribution.

    I don't feel defacing websites or redirecting traffic to a Fluffy Bunny (McBoobiez) take on McDonalds is quite the same thing.

    It's like distinguishing between active and passive demonstration, but the article seems to place it under only one umbrella, in the unfortunate way the media confuses hacking, cracking, writing virii, or other criminal activity.


  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:44AM (#376739) Homepage
    high tech hippies. Protesting from the comfort of their own homes. Defending the rights of the human race with only a keyboard, a mouse, an internet connection and granola.

  • Yes, we all know that the correct term for breaking into a system and having your way with it is cracking. Hacking is the old and honored art of extending technology (of any sort, not just computers and/or hardware) of crawling into the internals, and finding exactly what you can do with it, and then taking that hard-earned knowledge and doing something with it.

    And if language was a logical process, that would be the end of it. But language is NOT a logical process: it's fluid, changes constantly, and is primarily defined by what the masses think is correct, as opposed to the technically correct definition.

    Friends, I don't mean to start a flame war, but we've lost the public definition of "hacker". WE know the difference, but to the world at large, it doesn't matter. Thank Matthew Broderick, any number of uniformed journalists and government officials, and the Entertainment industry in general for it, but they won this particular semantic war, and we lost. Can we move on to more important issues ???

  • ...have we all forgotten that the first real "worm", called WANK, was released into NASA computers as a form of protest against the potentially radioactive material being used in space shuttle launches?

    If that's not hacktivism, I don't know what is.

  • We need to assess the situation realistically.

    Yes, let's.

    Is there or is there not a problem with corporate monoplies on the internet.

    There is not. There are lots of other tech sectors which are monopoly-dominated, but business on the Internet is crammed with lots of competing firms.

    Is there or is there not a major trend towards proprietary software and "nasty cookie" dropping sites out there.

    There is not. The trend, if there is one, appears to be towars open source (Linux, Apache) and standards (W3C). You still see some companies using content that requires browser enhancements that have not been standardized (yet), but more and more of these proprietary tools are being replaced by open, standard tools which will eventually reside in the code of every browser out there.

    As for "nasty cookie" dropping... the only people who really fear cookies are those who are listening to hype, rather than sitting down with a copy of something like "CGI Programming with Perl" (O'Reilly) and learning exactly what cookies can and can't do by actually implementing them.

    If yes, is this or is this not a threat to the net savvy computer user?

    Well, it's no, as I pointed out... but even if it was "yes", it would, at worst, be a threat to the net ignorant computer user. The savvy users know exactly how to look after themselves.

    If yes, a reasonable method for the preservation of internet rights and anonymity must be devised.

    News flash: unless you are always going through some kind of third-party proxy (like, you never were invisible to begin with. From a privacy perspective, browsing corporate sites is just like walking along the sidewalk in front of a strip mall... people can see you, see what store-fronts you stop to look into, and see the logos on the bags you are carrying. There are ways you can avoid detection if you are afraid people might find out that you just bought the new Britney Spears CD, but it should not be the responsibility of anybody else to help you hide your face, even for something as shameful as listening to teen bubble-gum princesses.

    To summarize, I feel that each of us needs to be able align ourselves with one of the following statements, 1. "There is a legal and reasonable way to fight the corporate and governmental juggernaut and it is........." 2. "I believe that purposeful and directed hactivisism is currently the best way we have to maintain our rights."

    you left out 3. "I believe that most anti-corporate rants are little more than chicken-little fearmongering. I believe that being free to participate in the market is good, that being able to sell shares in your company (re: form a corporation) to help your company grow is also good, and that doing so does not make your company an evil entity which must be fought against, by legal means or otherwise."

  • Boycotts don't work anymore - at least not against the large multinationals. Want to boycott RJR Nabisco? No more Kraft Mac and Cheeze for you! Disney? May as well turn off the TV. Sony? Forgetabout it. They have their hands in just about every aspect of your life - you may as well forget any form of entertainment you know about. Even if you do manage to hit one business group, the corporation can easily spin this to their own advantage.

    Horsepucky. Boycotts work, but only when people realy want them to. Boycotting something like like RJR or the MPAA is a cakewalk compared to, say, boycotting the only economically viable method of getting around your city. []

    "Just turn off the TV." "No more Mac and Cheeze." My goodness, the hell we'd be going through. Please.

    Don't confuse "Boycotts don't work anymore" with "People are too lazy to boycott anymore". Do you honestly think that sacrificing your digital toys could even start to compare to the daily hell of not having reliable transportation in an urban area? And yet people have done just that, for months on end, with fairly constant harassment from law enforcement and the rest of the community.

    Boycotts are hard. They will affect your daily life, sometimes profoundly. This does not mean, however, that they're no longer possible; it just means that our society doesn't give enough of a damn yet to make their own lives less comfortable.

  • There's a part of me, indeed I believe a part of everyone, that pines for the utopian-socialist environment portrayed in popular media (Star Trek among the chief offenders). Most of me, however, is a realist (and materialist): I need to make more money to get what I want in life. I make money as a hacker, so the erroneous use of the word hack and all its derivatives by the media and, now it seems, educational institutions is a direct affront to my way of life.

    Unfortunately, especially in recent years, I have to be very careful in using that word to describe myself. In some circles, I will openly declare myself a hacker: I hack code for a living. I hack code for fun. In others, I simply say that I work with computers. I've never written a so-called email "virus" (another sad misnomer), nor defaced a website, nor participated in any type of DOS attack, nor any of the other malicious activities that are typically associated with the term hacking. If these activities are now labeled Hacktivism by some idiot sociology professor in another country, I want no part of that term.

    On the flip side, I like the term Hacktivism if used in a more positive light: people that author such fabulous applications as gimp, gcc, cvs, and other tools that allow others to work in a more cost-effective manner (and indeed to extend and modify these applications for other purposes) are the true Hacktivists. People that write something for their own use and then give the code to the public domain or offer it under an open source license of some guise - even though there is no quantifiable market for such - these are the true Hacktivists. People that write DeCSS in haiku as a method of demonstrating the power the First Amendment affords to the people, people that port perfectly good UNIX applications to Win32, people that speak out on /. - these are the true Hacktivists.

    Let us grab this term and make it our own before it serves to hurt us! Has anyone registered Hacktivism.[insert-your-TLD-here]???

  • I think everyone is missing the point. Obviously rooting webservers and posting some shpeel about anything is lame... But what about the people pushing technology to help activists? What about the tech teams at the Independent Media Centers []? Or the people at [] who do hacks that don't break the law?
  • Why do people have these irrational attachments to the first meaning they encountered of a word?

    Aside from the racial slur, "cracker" means someone who break protective mechanisms to get at the things protected, like cracking a nut. Ever heard of safecrackers? Ever see the TV series "cracker" about a spooky crime-fighting psychiatrist who did mind-reading by analysis?

    Just because one subculture adopts a word doesn't mean that they gain a monopoly on it.

    Personally, I refer to people by whatever term they would like me to use, unless I don't like them.

    Funny, I prefer to use an accurate term, whether I like them or not. The names people make up for themselves are usually misleading.
  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:49AM (#376756) Homepage
    I have to agree here. As much as I like the idea of this hacktavism, in theory, in practice its not going to work. I really get the feeling that this is the work of some people who just don't grasp the true nature of what they are fighting against.

    It reminds me alot of "Propaganda By example". Its good to learn from history. An anarchist campaign about a hundred years ago aimed at usining assasination and bombing to bring down the wrath of government, and sew distrust and malcontent with the government.

    In theory its great. In practice it backfired so horribly that 100 years later bombs and mindless destruction are still synonomous with anarchism in many peoples minds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:50AM (#376757)
    Computer intrusion is not "cracking". The term "cracker" was originally reserved for people who were experts at breaking copy protection on warez. It had NOTHING to do with computer intrusion. As sifu TweetyFish said in this [] slashdot interview:

    A cracker is somebody who cracks warez, and/or a pejorative term for a white person. Any other meaning is never going to catch on in the media, nor with the old school. It's just too complicated to remember the distinction all the time. The people who are hackers by anybody's definition have done some... uh... mischevious things in their time; it's part of the nature of the beast. To say that "a real hacker would never break into a computer system" indicates - to me - a lack of understanding of the original meaning of the word. Of course a real hacker would break into a computer system, if it was an interesting enough problem and they didn't anticipate anybody having a problem with it. I agree that the media should widen it's definition of what a hacker is, but that's not the argument I usually see, especially here on slashdot. I see a lot more of "they aren't a real hacker, because they break into systems and/or do security stuff", which is plain silly.

    Personally, I refer to people by whatever term they would like me to use, unless I don't like them.

    Besides which, if you are doing something unexpected, unforseen, or disallowed to any system (which is my pocket definition of hacking) somebody is always going to think it's bad, until you laboriously convince them otherwise, on a case by case basis.

    Why get caught up in semantic arguments when you could be doing cool things and get noticed for THAT, instead?

  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @07:02AM (#376759) Journal

    The only difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: one's on our side. The assorted Palestinian groups are freedom fighters, but because "our side" happens to be Israel, the US media brands them as terrorists.

    This idea, though, kind of falls apart when you deal with the ELF types, though. I suppose that they're fighting for the Earth's freedom, though, so this might still apply.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, sorry to deflate your balloon, but our protesting does achieve results, otherwise the Canadian police right now wouldn't be building the Great Wall of Canada to keep us out of their April trade meeting. I speak as an organizer among the protesters and as a hacktivist who runs a popular activist website. I support all forms of hacktivism, although I prefer the variety that sets up web projects that provide an alternative to corporate web space. It tickles me to know that my website went online before most of the dot-coms and that it will be around after most of them cease business.

    Most of in the anti-globalization movement are not in it for the sake of protest. Organizing actions and protests is hard work and sometimes involves jail time and getting whacked in the head by the cops. But we continue on because we're finally winning for a change. The capitalists can't have a meeting anymore in any of the favorite spots, so now they hold meetings in inaccessible places like Quebec City, Quatar, Hawaii, and so on. They understand the monetary damage that we've done to companies like Monsanto and McDonalds. The former has seen its market cap drop by billions as a result of effective anti-biotech direct action. Then there are those of us who were involved in the pirate radio movement, which put hundreds of stations on the air and so scared the FCC that they were forced to consider reforms.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we've accomplished in the past 5 years. Don't forget that when some of us aren't on the streets, we are busy helping develop Linux and Gnutella and Freenet. We're also building kick ass websites like Indymedia [] and [].

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @07:04AM (#376765)
    style protests.

    Oddly enough, one of the things I remember about them is angry teens spray painting graffiti.

    I also remember riots, tear gas, shootings, stealing from "the man", kids dying from drug overdoses, etc.

    Jerry Rubin, bless his little insurance selling little Yippie heart, entitled his book " Do It!" ( Perhaps he should have sued Nike?)

    The phrase comes from a suggestion in the book. Jerry advises angry, protesting teens to walk into a bank and attempt to hold them up by threatening to shit on the floor, and if they refuse to give you the money. . . Do it!

    Yeah, angry teens used to be so much better than they make them today.

  • I think true Robin Hood hackitivism would mean reverse-engineering a big corporation or government controlled product/process, creating your own version of it, and just giving it away to others.

    Mostly it would be software, but it could be other things as well. Consider a corporation that produces an AIDS cure, patents it, and sells it for oo-gobs of money which would make it difficult for those from poorer countries to get a hold of it. Now imagine that somehow you were able to figure out a way that people with the right materials could create the cure on their own without as much cost. So you, the hactivist, would say fuck the corporation and give the knowledge out to as many people as you can hoping that the right people can make the stuff much more readily available to those who need it. That would be true hactivism.

    What the article talks about, as many others have pointed out already, is just cracktivism.

  • I know, I know, semantics. But still, it would be nice if the word at least reflected what people are really doing: cracking into other people's systems to make their voices heard.
    John "Dark Paladin" Hummel

  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @10:24AM (#376774)
    "angry teens used to be so much better than they make them today"

    Yeah...the establishment figured out it could win by co-opting instead of fighting. And now we are being sold back bell-bottoms and VW bugs. Beatle songs sell us flat screen TVs and cellular service. Gap commercials pump back at us the very same rebellious songs that MTV played in the 80s, over homogenous shiny faced groups dancing in 50s-esque conformity. And now MTV itself sniffs out upcoming trends, neuters them (*cough* rage rock *cough*) and sells them back to kids.

    Gentle reader, your rebelliousness IS the product, your generation has already been sold out. YHL. HAND. (Now go to school and shoot up some people)
  • (underscore:)
    yeah, want to boycott Rambus?
  • by euroderf ( 47 ) <a@b.c> on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:19AM (#376778) Journal
    Hacktivism looks as though it is a convenient excuse for hackers to continue their passion, while still being able to say that what they are doing is legal.

    As such, it is to be encourage. People who enjoy breaking into computer systems will never disappear - it is far better to have them be white hats than black.

    The average 'hacker (surely it should be 'cracktivism') enjoys breaking into computer systems for the intellectual thrill of it, and also the illicit thrill. It might be wise then to keep hacktivism's slightly disreputable reputation - it is important that they still get the illicit thrill, whilst still being white hats.

  • My point of the comment was that these kinds of corporations have their fingers in everything. If you want to completely boycott Disney, it's more than not buying "The Little Mermaid IV". In fact, if you have cable, you're still giving money to Disney since you have at least one or two channels that is part of standard service in many areas. Try taking a look at what AOL-TW owns and see if you can effectively boycott them. You have to do a LOT of research and stop buying a LOT of things. Same with RJR.

    Boycotts are much harder now than they were years ago. Boycotting Disney was as easy as not going to Florida/Calif, and not going to Disney movies.

    I use Disney as an example here. I don't really have anything against them, aside from the fact that they're part of the MPAA.
  • A "white hat" is someone who understands security, and uses it to advance security, not to break into other people's systems without their permission. For example, I'd concur with the people who put the "Powered by IIS" message on that this was a gray hat activity, not white hat as Apache said.

    I can think of situations where breaking into systems without permission would be justifiable (happens all the time in Buffy!) but it's still Black Hat, I think.
  • At its most effective, hacktivism will not cripple internationalization or globalization, it will merely raise the costs of doing it. This would have the reverse of the intended effect; only those capable of reaping immense profits will do so, thus fostering a nastier bunch of corporate mercenaries.
  • Has anyone who thinks that the US is above the violent treatment of protestors seen any of the footage from the WTO Protest in Seattle?

    Anyone who still believes that the US believes in the spirit of civil disobediance, or that American (or Canadian for that matter... see Quebec City, A20 []) citizens actually have the right to peacefully assemble, or a right to expression should check out "This is What Democracy Looks Like" [] produced by the Indy Media Centre. []

    It is a 72 minute documentary compiled from the footage of over 100 activists who attended the demonstrations. Lots of Universities have been doing screenings of the film leading up to the FTAA protest in Quebec City in April, so if you see a poster for it, whether you believe in globalization or not, you should check it out.

    Not watching this film is remaining ignorant. You don't have to agree with everything in it, but be warned, if you have any respect for freedom, this film will make you ANGRY.

  • There's a critical difference between Tianamen and Kent State. The National Guardsmen at Kent State were not acting under orders when they opened fire. They were simply a bunch of nervous kids who reacted poorly in a situation they were not adequately trained to handle. One of them started shooting, and the others got spooked and did the same

    Totally irrelevent. That national guard was acting on behalf of Authority, and as such, the Authority is just as responsible for the Kent State massacre as the chinese Authority is of the Tienanmen square massacre.


  • I think anyone who believes that the internet is the last, best, hope against the corporate media (and the Plutocratic movement in general) would agree that 'Hacktivism' has to be a part of it. It's been said previously that this struggle amounts to writhing around in quicksand unless part of it includes taking the offensive. As far as this example, I agree with some of the others, defacing websites accomplishes nothing. It'd be nice to see 'Hacktivism' as a way to get the truth, not as a way to be a 'rebel' and grandstand on big name websites. I don't know item one about hacking, but I know that people who do would be a lot more helpful if they were sneaking onto business networks and snagging documentation on a companies' political contributions, or memos promising bonuses to the representative of an insurance company that turned down the most claims. Anyway, you get the idea.
  • Crackers always feel a need to justify thier actions because few people wants to just say "I am a baaaaad boy".

    Some excuses are:

    "I am trying to show the weaknesses in thier security system"

    "I am protesting THE MAN"

    "If thier security is this weak, they deserve it"

    "The net should be open for everything"

    "I am only having fun but I never do any real harm"

    It is a rare individual who says "I am trashing other peoples hard work because I like to". Which of course is what they are doing. It really bothers me when I hear about people cracking a system because it means some group of people are going to be getting little sleep and working overtime to fix "a problem" that really should not be an issue. I really hate the excuse "they deserved it" because it assumes that human beings can not be trusted to be good people and that everybody must be thought of as a potential "intruder".
    The only "benefit" a cracker has ever had was to make people less trusting about giving computer access AND to produce a multi-billion dollar security industry. Thanks but NO THANKS.
  • Calling web site defacement "hacktivism" is a joke. It's like throwing rotten fruit at a Microsoft billboard and patting yourself on the back for making a bold social statement.

    If you're serious about hacking as a tool for forcing social change, then you need to focus on the ones that have let proverbial cats out of the bag - cracks like DeCSS or SDMI-defeaters and hacks [engineering sense] like Napster. These embody true "direct action in cyberspace to attack globalization and corporate domination". These are the cyber-accomplishments that are shaping political, legal, and cultural dialog about issues precisely because they're forcing the issues upon the public consciousness.

    Of course, there's less room in activism like this to tout how l33t you and and give m4d pr0pz to your h0m1ez, but it's where honest-to-goodness geeks are making a real impact.

  • Wow you got the cops to build a wall, big deal. I don't doubt that you are working for change, I just don't think you have a very good idea of what change you want, specificly or how to acheave it. If you want to end global poverty than you should be encouraging trade, not fighting agenst it.

    Again I don't think most of the current actavist movement has a very good sense of where it is going or why.
  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:21AM (#376804) Homepage

    Personally I think the general defacement [] of a website is downright dumb and those responsible seem to forget its outright illegal for one.

    Its nice to get a message across but hacking for a so called cause only makes things worse for the hackers, and can sometimes work to the advantage of the target, as they can turn it around and misconstrue the scenario as something of a terroristic attacks. Not only that but the media has the whole concept of hackers distorted to hell due to some of these "hackers'" actions

    I've interviewed about a dozen of hackers [], a virus creation group [], and a script kiddiot defacer []. Now the "hackers" I've interviewed are not what media considers hackers, these are professionals in the security field so don't get it distorted, however the script kiddiot defacer and others I've spoken with use the curtain of "hacktivism" to solely get attention, nothing more.

    If someone really wants to get a point across I think they should start an organization and speak up on it to raise awareness. "Hacking" to promote an idea is no better than what the Chinese did at Tiananmen Square in my eyes, its painting the kettle black at any cost.

    Don't get me wrong I believe in Freedom of Speech, Privacy and all that good stuff, but at the same time I hate racism, I will not condone someone from saying what they want on a racist site. I don't think double standards should apply on subjects, and while some of the older hackes from the mid - late 90's were funny as all hell, no one has the right to take away someone freedom of mind, speech.

  • I'm sorry, but apparently I missed the part of human history where oppression and human rights violations were extinguished. I guess there really is, as you say, nothing worthwhile left to protest against. Oh well. I guess I'll have to find another outlet for my (ooh some big words here so erudite lets mod it up) isolationist paranoid hot-headed tendencies.

  • | What Really Happened? | 1/15/2001 []

    Well, here's your evidence. The authenticity of the documents has not been verified, but the people who decide such things seem to be leaning toward their veracity. It's pretty clear that the leadership was in favor of mowing down the crowds, as long as it didn't happen in the square itself. That's significantly different from Kent State, or for that matter, most such incidents in the US. We ain't perfect and there are abuses, but don't underestimate the power of free speech (while it lasts). Leaders here, even if inclined to make such decisions, are not thrilled at the almost certain prospects of them being discovered and published.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:22AM (#376809)
    We have a long history of civil disobedience. However that disobedience wasn't destructive. There's a big difference between staging a sit-in and defacing someone's property. I'm bothered by the trend torwards destructive behavior in the name of civil disobedience. It is totally unacceptable. Having a noble cause doesn't make it right. If it did, we'd be supporting all terrorists as they firmly believe their cause is noble and right too.
  • Offtopic: Everytime an American brings up Tianamen square, someone should remind them of Kent state, and how the US reacted to student protesters)
    There's a critical difference between Tianamen and Kent State. The National Guardsmen at Kent State were not acting under orders when they opened fire. They were simply a bunch of nervous kids who reacted poorly in a situation they were not adequately trained to handle. One of them started shooting, and the others got spooked and did the same. I'll admit that Kent State was a tradgedy, but no one ordered those deaths. It was tragic and avoidable, but not malicious.
    Tianamen is another matter entirely.
  • Consumer boycotts may not work on a mass scale, but B2B "boycotts" are still somewhat effective. Stigmatizing companies that did business in aparthied South Africa and Burma helped bring down those regimes. Also, the anti-sweatshop movement has been fairly successful in their efforts to pressure Universities and Colleges not to purchase gear from companies that use sweatshops.

  • I think hackstervism can actually harm the cause much the way celebrity spokespersons often harm the causes that they support. It's not done intentionally, but it still can harm the image of the cause. I've read interviews with scientists or other informed advocates of various causes are posed the question: "Don't you think having that famous movie star `this space intentionally left blank' is promoting your cause?". Often the response is something to the effect of I really wish `this space intentionally left blank' would shut up. Think of the hemp movement, there's a lot of credibility to the research behind it, but when stars support it and then get busted for marijuana posession it undermines the image. Whether marijuana should be legalized is a seperate issue, one that hemp supporters want to distance themselves from.

    So what happens when corporate web sites are defaced? Usually two undesirable things happen, only one of which is important to this posting. First hackers get a bad name since the press abuses the use of the term. Second the cause gets a bad name because people resort to vandalism. To make matters worse most of the vandalisms seem to be done by the barely literate.

    The corporation makes the news (more press for them, somewhat sympathetic even if the vandalism accuses them of clubbing baby seals with Tibetian infants and using the fur in a southeast asian sweatshop/child labor camp), there is yet more outcry against 'hackers' and the message behind the cause gets buried beneath the bad press.

    I don't know what the answer to good advocacy are, only that these are more often than not harmful. If you stage a peaceful demonstration it might not make the news which doesn't accomplish anything. Maybe whats needed are vigilante press agents releasing easily consumed memes for the masses to propogate.

  • by Enry ( 630 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:24AM (#376824) Journal
    Boycotts don't work anymore - at least not against the large multinationals. Want to boycott RJR Nabisco? No more Kraft Mac and Cheeze for you! Disney? May as well turn off the TV. Sony? Forgetabout it. They have their hands in just about every aspect of your life - you may as well forget any form of entertainment you know about. Even if you do manage to hit one business group, the corporation can easily spin this to their own advantage.

    I imagine many people are boycotting DVDs or CDs due to the MPAA/RIAA. These groups can easily claim that lack of sales was not due to boycotts, but to theft from "those meddling hackers and their mangy mutt".
  • True, but what good is a protest if you can't communicate your message? I've heard the protestors try to do so, but they fail miserably. Many of them seem to be barely literate.

  • by mkcmkc ( 197982 ) on Thursday March 08, 2001 @06:25AM (#376829)
    It seems to me that both of these are possible. Aside from defacing web sites for political purposes (Cracktivism), one can also write free software for political purposes (Hacktivism). Take Ogg Vorbis, for example.


  • I'm not really equipped to comment in depth on the PLA's level of discipline (although it's interesting to note that some units apparently refused to participate in the clearing of the square--not sure if this indicates lack of discipline or simply very deeply seated social unrest). And I do not dispute that the protesters became violent--extremely violent in some cases. As far as the quotes go, I stand by them as conveying the general tone of the leadership--certainly there were other points of view present, but they don't seem to have carried the day. One of the interesting thing about the papers, in fact, is the level of dissent they reveal in the leadership structure. But it seems clear that Shangkun's faction (including Deng) were the ones to carry the day.

    I see where you are coming from, but (and I haven't read the book, and we're not sure if it's 100% authentic anyway) I still disagree with your central tenet: I think that when the leadership deployed troops, they had every intent of using force and probably deadly force. Having made several prior attempts to clear the area without becoming violent, it seems ludicrous to assume that they would think that their final attempt would succeed without force where the others had failed. So; we'll have to agree to disagree. Nice talking to you about it, though.
  • I don't think that it's possible to create a subtle distinction like hacker/cracker in the public consciousness after the term becomes established a particular way in general use. The best hope is to introduce new terms that clearly make the distinction that you want to make and hope that they catch on. Instead of saying "hacker" to mean a creative and dedicated programmer, call him a "brilliant programmer". It's not as colorful, but it conveys exactly what you mean. Similarly, people who break into computer systems to cause mischief shouldn't be called "crackers", they should be called "vandals" or "miscreants". The meaning is very clear to anyone who doesn't understand computers at all, and it also attaches the negative connotation that there's nothing heroic about messing up somebody's web site or DDOSing an IRC server.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!