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Is Hacktivism Robin Hood Politics?

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

News 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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Just a media term.. (4)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 13 years ago | (#376648)

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.

Re:What is the point? (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#376650)

>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*)

They Call It Justing Don't They? (1)

oogoody (302342) | more than 13 years ago | (#376657)

Isn't the goal justice? Justice does not well mind straight absolute lines.

Re:Think celebrity advocacy (1)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 13 years ago | (#376659)

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.

Same as always... (1)

Jasonv (156958) | more than 13 years ago | (#376660)

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...)

You had to listen to this on BBC (2)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | more than 13 years ago | (#376662)

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.

Hactivism? (3)

Lando (9348) | more than 13 years ago | (#376664)

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

Re:Shouldn't this be Cracktivism? (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#376668)

No, there is no copy protection to crack. Instead, they are hacking into a computer remotely.

This is a two way road. (1)

Big Torque (196609) | more than 13 years ago | (#376669)

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.

Re:hacktivism? (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 13 years ago | (#376673)

surely you mean cracktivism!
Hear, hear. If it's illegal, it isn't hacking; it's vandalism, burglary, forgery, etc.

I would... (2)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#376674)

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.

Re:Civil Disobedience vs Hacktivism (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#376679)

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.


"hacktivism" is largely irrelevant (1)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#376681)

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

I don't know where to START with this one... (1)

Flabdabb Hubbard (264583) | more than 13 years ago | (#376683)

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 ?

Re:hacktivism? (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 13 years ago | (#376684)

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.

understand who these people are (1)

thegoldenear (323630) | more than 13 years ago | (#376685)

"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

hacktivism? (2)

Pepsiman (89597) | more than 13 years ago | (#376686)

surely you mean cracktivism!

Hackers can Crack, but also do more. (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 13 years ago | (#376687)

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.

You have to give credit to the good guys (1)

Quid (109485) | more than 13 years ago | (#376688)

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;

Such as? (2)

Voltaire99 (265100) | more than 13 years ago | (#376689)

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.

CmdrTaco proves his own point.... (1)

invenustus (56481) | more than 13 years ago | (#376690)

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."

Re:Of course its robin hood style hacking (1)

BBB (90611) | more than 13 years ago | (#376691)

Funny you should put it that way. In the original Robin Hood legend, Robin Hood was a nobleman who thought taxes were too high, and he stole only from tax collectors and sheriffs (old English term for the chief representative of the king in a county). In that sense Robin Hood was a tax rebel. But that would mean he doesn't cater to know-nothing leftist "anti-corporatist" prejudices. What a shame.

Hacktivism (1)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 13 years ago | (#376693)

"Hactivism" is the biggest contradiction that I have heard in quite a while. Have any of you read these mailing lists? All these "Hackers" are just sKR1p7 K1dD13Z who want to justify their pathetic attempts to illegally violate the civil rights of their victims.

"Hacktivists" are usually nothing more than 12-year-old pimply-faced boys who got tired of Pr0n on the 'net and decided to try something else. Give it a rest. There's no reason behind their hacking; it's just a justification for illegal activities.

That's just the way it is

Speaking of Vietnam Protests... (2)

Outlyer (1767) | more than 13 years ago | (#376695)

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)

Re:Net Effect (2)

java_sucks (197921) | more than 13 years ago | (#376697)

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...

Re:Hactivism? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#376698)

It usually isn't, it's usually called a revolution, or, if the uprising fails, a rebellion.

See: American History, Russian History, World War I.

Isn't it Ironic (1)

cheekymonkey_68 (156096) | more than 13 years ago | (#376706)

Hmm reading the headline I thought I was reading a Katz article, but no I blinked and it definitely said Cmdr Taco....

Hmmm could this article have been written by Katz and someone at /. changed the Author as a Joke ?

That would be ironic...

Remember just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean the're not out to get you...

Please get your terms correct... (1)

jamesoden (316049) | more than 13 years ago | (#376708)

Its unfortunate that people obstenately sully the meaning of the word hacker by relating it to a person performing criminal/malicious activity via a computer and/or networks. That person is a criminal (and activists at times break laws; for good or ill they are still defined by the goverment whose laws they broke as criminals [whether they were right or wrong is a different issue]). A hacker on the hand is just a curious individual that likes to pull things apart (virtual or no), examine them, understand them, and use them in creative ways. Most programers could be called hackers (which is why I refer to my self as a hacker). Linus Torvalds and others like him are hackers; the individuals mentioned in the article are criminals. Please get your terminolgy correct.

childish (1)

Derek (1525) | more than 13 years ago | (#376709)

Hacktivism is childish. In my mind it is the equivalent of toilet papering a senators house when you disagree with what he does. In nearly ALL cases, there are much better ways to get your point across.

Robin Hood? (1)

OpCode42 (253084) | more than 13 years ago | (#376711)

He stole from the rich and gave to the poor...

A real Robin Hood hacker would steal web space from rich people who can afford high powered dedicated servers and give it to us poor guys that can only afford to virtually host their ISP given subdomains....


Re:Just a media term.. (1)

thegoldenear (323630) | more than 13 years ago | (#376713)

do you not think it might be someone representing this: the word 'slashdot' might seem weird to patrons of the Urban75 site but would they laugh at it the way you appear to laugh at them?

Hacking for Politcal goals (3)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 13 years ago | (#376716)

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.

Other way around (3)

alexjohns (53323) | more than 13 years ago | (#376718)

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.

"Hacktivism", "Cyberterrorism" and "Covert Action" (2)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 13 years ago | (#376726)

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.

Re:hrm. Sounds like hacktivism is an excuse. (2)

Peter Dyck (201979) | more than 13 years ago | (#376729)

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.

Re:Shouldn't this be Cracktivism? (1)

Mr. Bob Arctor (223605) | more than 13 years ago | (#376733)

In a sense, both hacking and cracking are 'isms' by nature and by the nature of the corporate world's response to them. By positioning themselves as the sole power in dictating the use of their products and services, corporations force both hackers and crackers into a politics of opposition. Both the hacker and cracker are forced to challenge the corporation simply in order to excersize what is (in the eyes of hackers at least...crackers often admit their actions are illegal or even unethical, if still justified) their right. It is the plight of anyone who is forced to witness a constriction of their rights (all those who are able to perceive it at least)...if they wish to continue excersizing the rights which have been denied them through newborn restriction, their actions (however benign) MUST BE POLITICAL....

yes, i can be rather red sometimes...

Whenever someone says "Eggs are eggs" (3)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 13 years ago | (#376734)

...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.

how is this Robin Hood? (1)

The Fast Choker (210010) | more than 13 years ago | (#376735)

From what I hear, these people just deface websites. How is that Robin Hood politics? There isn't any taking from the rich, giving to the poor. Just some vandalism. No one really benefits (except for the cracker, who can say that he defaced the web site).

Re: hacktivism is an excuse...but not that one (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#376736)

>> 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.

Sorry, you are close but incorrect. They know what they do is illegal... they want to be able to say that it is MORAL. And, do it with a straight face talking to their mom and pop.

Sure, it's Robin Hood politics. And what praytell is wrong with that, if you live in Sherwood Forest?


The internet aside (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#376737)

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.


reminds me of a lawyer joke.. (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 13 years ago | (#376738)

once said by a lawyer:

I steal from the rich... then call it a day.


Make way for..... (4)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#376739)

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.

Re:What is the point? (1)

Claric (316725) | more than 13 years ago | (#376740)

Oddly enough, in the UK, The Guardian (formerly The Manchester Guardian) is seen as a trendy middle-class pseudo-intellectual broadsheet

Well, what the Grauniad (it's known for its spelling) seems to be doing is a sort of trendy middle-class pseudo-intellectual form of scare-mongering - much like the tabloids do with things like pedophiles and ecstacy and other modern dangers.


Hacking versus Cracking: semantics and you... (2)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 13 years ago | (#376741)

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 ???

Gemtlemen... (2)

MarchingAnts (301730) | more than 13 years ago | (#376742)

...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.

Re:how is this Robin Hood? (1)

krugdm (322700) | more than 13 years ago | (#376743)

True, there is no "giving to the poor" here, but that's not quite the argument. It that Robin Hood was breaking the law by stealing from the righ to give to the poor, but one can argue that even though it was technically illegal, it was considered a noble thing to do, and was relatively harmless. I don't recall ol' Robin ever killing anyone, and I'm sure that the money a traveling nobleman lost was just a small dent in his fortune. And all this was done to protest the high taxes imposed on the people of England. In the case of crackers, defacing a website is relatively harmless, and just mildly irritating to a big corporation as they may lose a few hours worth of sales while their IT people plug up the holes and fix the site. Where I thing this falls apart, though, is that there really is no noble cause here that I can see. I think that most crackers do it just for the thrill or to see if they can, not because they have any real cause to support.

Re:Thoughts (1)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#376744)

"just as bad as the targets actions" Meaning the hackers are no better than their target is by defacing them.

As though we've never heard "hack" used poorly... (2)

bsdbigot (186157) | more than 13 years ago | (#376748)

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]???

Re:Just another excuse. (1)

Coil (224408) | more than 13 years ago | (#376751)

anybody can grab a gun, go to the mall, shoot a few people

What happens then? Media outcry and security everywhere tightened up beyond recognition. People who fsck up websites for fun are just adding fuel to the "we need tight security on the internet" arguments which make the internet practically unusable for the rest of us. I'm not against activism, but it might be an idea to keep it to the proper channels where it is less likely to be confused with random vandalism.

No I mean Hactivism (2)

simonsays (264817) | more than 13 years ago | (#376753)

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?

Re:What is the point? (3)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#376756)

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.


No! It is not Cracking! (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#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?

Re:Just a media term.. (1)

Carl Drougge (222479) | more than 13 years ago | (#376758)

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

They saw the movie "Hackers"? Amazingly inaccurate, that movie.

Re:hacktivism? (3)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 13 years ago | (#376759)

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.

Re:One good related story (1)

sojiro (255286) | more than 13 years ago | (#376760)

Not really so sure about this. I remember _last month_ when I was doing some research on Hamas, redirected to a porn site. I think this might be a case of journalists not checking their facts.
Domain Name: HAMAS.ORG Registrar: BULKREGISTER.COM, INC. Whois Server: Referral URL: Name Server: NS1.CONEPUPPY.COM Name Server: NS2.CONEPUPPY.COM Updated Date: 20-nov-2000
Can't really tell who owns the damn thing... But you can't rule out that some schmuck registered it before Hamas did.

Hacktivism/Cracktivism Can be a Corporate Tool (1)

Gefiltefish (125066) | more than 13 years ago | (#376761)

It's nice to hear the sentiment behind activism, particularly in relation to large corporations swamping the market with inferior products and trying to eclipse the hope that we have for something better. However, I am concerned with the potential for activism generally, and particularly activism that involves surreptitiously cracking into computer systems, can easily be turned against itself.

Just consider that during the 1960's, when the civil rights movement and civil rights activists were at their strogest, so was the KKK. In terms of corporate involvement now, activist cracker break-ins will only firm the resolve of businesses, tighten security, and remind the government that they should give even more power to corporations to "protect" themselves from these activist crackers.

I can even envision a sneaky corporation (redundant, yes?) hiring their own "cractivists" away from public notice to crack into their systems, do negligible damage, and then lay a heap of blame on whatever activist organization that corp. doesn't like. This sort of thing may even yield government support for the corporation.

It would be a shame.

It seems like, with everything else, there is no quick and easy way to fight activist causes. It comes down to the need to issue protest through the appropriate channels, decline to purchase products, and tell the story of why your cause is important. It's slow but it seems like the only solid way to support causes and be an activist.

Middle East Hacking (1)

Jahad (257412) | more than 13 years ago | (#376762)

As can be seen from this article [] in The Register it's not just people out to have fun anymore. The Middle East conflict has spilled over into cyberspace. Is this the first conflict to do this?

Re:Hacking for Politcal goals (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#376763)

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 [] .

Re:What is the point? (1)

Voltaire99 (265100) | more than 13 years ago | (#376764)

Sixpints couldn't be more foolishly wrong about the Guardian, one of the best newspapers in the world -- its reporting on the Balkans alone putting American rags to shame.

I am old enough to remember Vietnam era. . . (5)

kfg (145172) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.


Re:I would... (1)

aethera (248722) | more than 13 years ago | (#376766)

You make a good point. The definition probably lies more in the numbers partaking in the so called *hacktivism* Of course the lines between Cyber terrorism and Cyber Civil Disobedience can and probably would be blurred at any mega-corporation worth its salt.
But in any case, 20 or 30 thousand people sending off e-mail missives to company X, crashing their servers,(especially if they contact the media and make a news event out of their doing so) is going to put a whole lot more pressure on said company/government than 3 or 4 people defacing a website.
the power of the people lies in numbers. Thousands of any sort of act, legal or illegal, will raise a lot of attention, and there is nothing companies like less than unwanted attention.

True Hackitivism (2)

Tyler Durden (136036) | more than 13 years ago | (#376767)

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.


What is the point? (1)

sixpints (136510) | more than 13 years ago | (#376768)

The fools who run the corporate monstrosities will merely use these outbursts to persuade governments to further enshrine their power. The answer in reality is to hit them where it really hurts - financially - don't buy the product!

Oddly enough, in the UK, The Guardian (formerly The Manchester Guardian) is seen as a trendy middle-class pseudo-intellectual broadsheet, remember that when considering the points in the article.

Shouldn't this be Cracktivism? (4)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 13 years ago | (#376772)

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

Re:Middle East Hacking (1)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#376777)

I'm sure there were examples of this during the Yugoslavian bombing campaign. I started getting a lot of spam from pro-Serbian organizations about this time, of course all of the address information was forged. Relay-hijacking probably doesn't fit the mental model that most people have if you say "hacktivism", but it certainly fits mine..

hrm. Sounds like hacktivism is an excuse. (3)

euroderf (47) | more than 13 years ago | (#376778)

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.

That's not what a "white hat" is. (2)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 13 years ago | (#376781)

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.

Net Effect (2)

JJ (29711) | more than 13 years ago | (#376782)

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.

Hacktivism doesn't work (1)

whanau (315267) | more than 13 years ago | (#376785)

For a start it is far to easy to counter. Do you think a major corporation or dictator will roll over after you deface their website? Any form of protest needs to be both uniform and solid as a rock - People power in the philipines comes to mind. It also needs to hit the targets in the pocket. Hacking website or server does neither.

Re:Speaking of Vietnam Protests... (3)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#376787)

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.


Re:hrm. Sounds like hacktivism is an excuse. (1)

Asikaa (207070) | more than 13 years ago | (#376788)

"while still being able to say that what they are doing is legal"

Less "legal", more "justifiable".

Having a so-called cause has been used as an excuse for many illegal acts. Some more socially acceptable than others.

- Welding a steel panel over an ocean outflow pipe because it is spewing toxic waste into the ocean (a Greenpeace favorite).

- Bombing an unarmed group of Army musicians because during combat duty they enforce a political situation you don't agree with.

- Blocking access to corporate buildings because you disagree with capitalism.

- Bombing corporate buildings because you disagree with capitalism.

How far does your cause allow you to go? Who decides what is justified?


Hacktivism yes, Cracktivism no (2)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | more than 13 years ago | (#376789)

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.

Re:hacktivism? (1)

Ronin X (121414) | more than 13 years ago | (#376790)

The real danger here is that halo-touting self-proclaimed 'hacktivists' will be given an altogether different label: terrorists.

All too many times, misunderstood or misguided freedom fighters are dealt with/obliterated after being labeled terrorists by the media, government, or populace in general. As the internet becomes more and more crucial to everyday life, can acts meant to disrupt it be seen as anything other than akin to blowing up bridges and roads?

(Of course having said this, I return to my fantasies of blowing up the D.C. beltway to force them to rebuild it correctly.)

Just another excuse. (2)

oconnorcjo (242077) | more than 13 years ago | (#376791)

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.

Re:hacktivism? (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 13 years ago | (#376792)

a hacker breaks into computer systems
A hacker most certainly does not break into computer systems. Hackers are too busy doing useful things. A person who breaks into computer systems is a burglar.

Re:Hactivism? (1)

alprazolam (71653) | more than 13 years ago | (#376793)

heres a wild idea. how about when somebody compromises a system, for whatever reason, you judge the case based on merits, instead of trying to lump it together with some vaguely relatated situations and coin a term for it.

We see real "hacktivism" (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 13 years ago | (#376794)

Hacktivism is very real, although often it is misdirected and simply mindless defamation. Across all canadian governmental departments we've been warned of a crew of brazilian crackers that have been defacing our web sites in protest against the Health Ministry's embargo on brazilian meat, which has been found to carry diseases in the past few months. Although I personally think this isn't the right way to protest, it's how they choose to do it, and they do it without any class or professionalism. They just mess up our pages and write "Fuck canada and their racist people".. and of course we reply "Fuck brazil and their idiot crackers". I'm not saying hacktivism is always this bad, sometimes it truly is the best way to get a decent message out, especially when that message is being shunned "to protect the public" (read : because some rich fucker's got his hand up our asses). Defacing a high-visibility website won't change the world, but it will help inform people if the message is clear and positive. Whacking's entry page and writing "Steve Jobs licks goat nads" might seem funny, but it has no meaning or goal. It just pisses people off without any positive effect. That sort of activity certainly isn't "Robin Hood".

Re:Just another excuse. (1)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#376795)

"I am trying to show the weaknesses in thier security system"
"If thier security is this weak, they deserve it"
Taking their stupid way of thinking, anybody can grab a gun, go to the mall, shoot a few people and blame it on the lack of security.

Re:This is a two way road. (1)

ReconRich (64368) | more than 13 years ago | (#376796)

This isn't about copy protection though, its about cracking as civil disobedience, or even as insurgence. Insurgents are always viewed as terrorists... they are, in fact, from the viewpoint of the establishment being fought. Right and wrong are essentially defined by which side you're on (i.e. its an inherent conflict). The difficulty in inherent conflicts is that one side MUST win, as neither side can be converted to the other point of view. The REAL question here, is what is being fought over; what are the points of view, and which side does this put me on.

-- Rich

Ghandi.. (1)

NumberSyx (130129) | more than 13 years ago | (#376797)

Civial Disobedience is almost always considered criminal at the time it is being done. Ghandi was considered a criminal by the government he was protesting against. The US government considered the protestors at Kent State to be criminal, so much so they decided to shoot them rather than let thier message be heard. and many people considered Martin Luther King's followers to be criminal. History however shows these people to be what they were. It was they who were the Heroes and the government to be unjust and criminal.

It is interesting to note, the protestors of the WTO in Seattle, the Republcian and Democratic National Conventions were considered criminal and arrested, however, the protestors in Florida during our last Presidential election were left alone. The difference being, in Florida, both sides were supporting the Status Quo.

Jesus died for sombodies sins, but not mine.

Hacking for Social Effect (2)

artdodge (9053) | more than 13 years ago | (#376798)

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.

Re:Hacking for Politcal goals (3)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 13 years ago | (#376799)

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.

Hacking for a cause? (1)

winchester (265873) | more than 13 years ago | (#376802)

The only cause I could think of would be to make corporations more aware of security issues with certain products. But I guess the term "ethical hacking" covers that. I don't see Greenpeace for instance hacking the Shell website... not enough exposure for them.

Thoughts (4)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#376804)

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.

Civil Disobedience vs Hacktivism (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

Of course its robin hood style hacking (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 13 years ago | (#376811)

Robin Hood is about the people with nothing attacking and taking what belongs to the rich for use by themselves. Thats what this is about.

Of course some would consider it inapproprate allocation of resources but that is always the case with any sort of wealth.

You mean that, Taco? (1)

Logic Bomb (122875) | more than 13 years ago | (#376813)

"...the folks capable of, say, defacing a website, usually aren't the same folks able to intelligently communicate a message." Nice choice of words there, Taco. It's interesting of you to insult the intelligence of what is probably a fairly decent portion of your readership. (Of course, I totally agree with what you said.)

Re:True Hackitivism (1)

Gerad (86818) | more than 13 years ago | (#376815)

I know this is going against the popular opinion here at /., but I feel obligated to point out that this is essentially stealing.

Think about the people who have dedicated years of their life (possibly their entire post-grad life) to research into medical cures. I personally find this to be a much more worthy cause than most tech jobs, as it is trying to help others and improve the quality of life for humanity. Now don't those people deserve some kind of compensation for this?

Think about authors of books. An author could spend months or years working on a specific book. Most authors, AFAIK (anyone comment?) do not get paid by the hour for work they spend on a book. Sure, most books sell for more than they paper they are printed on. Does this then make it moral to photocopy or OCR/distribute multiple copies of a book just because the publisher is "ripping people off"? What about the author who could be trying to make a living for himself and his family, where every little bit helps?

Please don't get me wrong, I do realize if companies are selling things for "oo-gobs" of money then they are just trying to exploit the consumer. But the very nature of capitalism makes it so that it is in the best interests of any supplier to keep prices at a reasonable level, so that the consumer will want to purchase their good.

Of course, the self-regulating nature of capitalism starts falling apart when the government steps in (DMCA, UCITA, etc.)

Yes, my spelling sucks. Deal.

Re:What is the point? (1)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 13 years ago | (#376816)

The Guardian [...] is seen as a trendy middle-class pseudo-intellectual broadsheet,

The Grauniad [] is reasonably objective, but the ICA is gaining an increasingly bad reputation [] for black-turtlenecked post-modern wankerdom from the technically illiterate chattering classes.

Re:Of course its robin hood style hacking (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 13 years ago | (#376817)

IIRC Robin Hood was about Saxons getting a bit of their own back from the Normans who had taken over the place, after the Saxons had taken it over from the Celts. Does that clarify the situation, or just make Robin Hood a less effective metaphor?

Re:Civil Disobedience vs Hacktivism (1)

peccary (161168) | more than 13 years ago | (#376818)

It's not enough that they "firmly believe their cause is noble and right," they must also be right. I think you've been confused by the relativists, who argue that we cannot determine right, but must rely on noble intent alone.

Re:Speaking of Vietnam Protests... (2)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#376819)

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.

Re:What is the point? (1)

sixpints (136510) | more than 13 years ago | (#376820)

One of the best newspapers in the world? It's not even in the top three on my desk at the moment!

Re:What is the point? (2)

bckspc (172870) | more than 13 years ago | (#376821)

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.

Think celebrity advocacy (2)

eXtro (258933) | more than 13 years ago | (#376822)

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.

Re:Other way around (1)

rapett0 (92674) | more than 13 years ago | (#376823)

You are completely right. My Tae Kwon Do teacher told me years ago that if you ever have to fight a gang of people, you only need to worry about the couple worse ones, as those are the only ones you will end up fighting. I used to date this girl, who I asked when we first met what she liked to do, and she said protest. I said what, and then she was like I want to be an activist. I am like name one cause you are really into. And she mentioned something nonsensicle that just had a rally the day before on campus. It amazes me what these coffee houser/punk type people will pull off in the name of activism.

Re:What is the point? (5)

Enry (630) | more than 13 years ago | (#376824)

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".

One good related story (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#376827)

The DNS server to the HAMAS website was hacked to redirect all visitors to a pr0n site.

If you can't defeat them, humiliate them!

Cracktivism and Hacktivism (3)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.


Re:Here's the Register article. (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#376835)
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