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Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the little-of-column-A-and-a-little-of-column-B dept.

Crime 243

An anonymous reader writes "You don't necessarily have to a hacker to be viewed as one under federal law. ProPublica breaks down acts of 'hacktivism' to see what is considered criminal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It points out that both Aaron Swartz and Bradley Manning were charged under the CFAA. Quoting: 'A DDoS attack can be charged as a crime under the CFAA, as it “causes damage” and can violate a web site’s terms of service. The owner of the site could also file a civil suit citing the CFAA, if they can prove a temporary server overload resulted in monetary losses. ... The charges for doxing depend on how the information was accessed, and the nature of published information. Simply publishing publicly available information, such as phone numbers found in a Google search, would probably not be charged under the CFAA. But hacking into private computers, or even spreading the information from a hack, could lead to charges under the CFAA.'"

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243 comments

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MLK and friends went to jail as well (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628099)

a lot of you kids seem to forget that. they went to jail, they walked for miles rather than take the bus and they were beat up by rednecks.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628187)

a lot of you kids seem to forget that. they went to jail, they walked for miles rather than take the bus and they were beat up by rednecks.

Sorry, just because you were also arrested doesn't evangelize your cause to the same level as civil rights. By your logic, a KKK member could be arrested for exercising his right to beat his wife and he could take heart knowing that MLK was also arrested and, in the end, seen as a hero.

Sound logic this is not unless you are also saying we shouldn't have any laws against what Swartz and Manning did. If you're saying it shouldn't illegal for me to break into a school's wiring cabinet and hook up my laptop to get access to things, you're a moron.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628227)

I'm pretty sure nothing you said has anything to do with the GP.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628503)

What are you talking about? He's talking about Martin Luther King being arrested, not himself.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628735)

Sorry, just because you were also arrested doesn't evangelize your cause to the same level as civil rights

Or conversely, just because you were also arrested doesn't demonize your cause to the same level as beating your wife. In other words, legality is neither an argument for or against whether an act is just or wrong.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

Applekid (993327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629015)

Sorry, just because you were also arrested doesn't evangelize your cause to the same level as civil rights

Or conversely, just because you were also arrested doesn't demonize your cause to the same level as beating your wife. In other words, legality is neither an argument for or against whether an act is just or wrong.

And me without mod points. You definitely need some +1 love as your comment is buried by most defaults as an AC.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628225)

a lot of you kids seem to forget that. they went to jail, they walked for miles rather than take the bus and they were beat up by rednecks.

Exactly.

The only way to break insane IP "rules" about copyright (which should be 17 years with one renewal by the Person who is the author) and patents (which should be 13 years with one renewal by the Person who is the author) and "who owns stuff" is to crash the system.

Information just wants to be free.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628367)

I'm sick of seeing that phrase. Information doesn't want anything. You just want to be able to download "Alf" without paying for it. And that's perfectly fine.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (2)

ma1wrbu5tr (1066262) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628729)

<quote>I'm sick of seeing that phrase. Information doesn't want anything. </quote>

Just because you're sick of seeing it, doesn't make it less true. "Want" is just the expression used to demonstrate idea's inherent nature to spread themselves.

And, no. Wanting to download "Alf" is a serious sign of mental illness. It is not "perfectly fine".

End Of File

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628495)

The only way to break insane IP "rules" ... is to crash the system.

Well yes, "crashing the system" is "breaking the rules."

What you want is to CHANGE the rules, and crashing the system is the last thing you want to do to accomplish that goal. If you "crash the system" then you are, in the legal and legislative system, part of the problem that the system must be reinforced to protect against. You are not going to be seen as part of the solution.

It's like protesting the 65MPH speed limit on the interstate highway by driving 90MPH. The legislature isn't going to say "this shows that we need to increase the speed limit", they are going to increase the budget for the state police so there are more cops to give out more tickets. Or protesting TSA rules about screening procedures by trying to sneak your way past all the screeners with a pocket knife, or smuggling in a prohibited item through the vendor access system. That just proves that there are dangerous people that TSA needs to protect us against, not that they are a failure that needs to be eliminated.

Information just wants to be free.

Information isn't a sentient thing, and thus has no "want" associated with it. YOU want information to be free, even information that other people spent money creating. That's an entirely different thing.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628759)

I disagree. Traffic statistics determined that the average "speeding" speed is safe because, shockingly, experienced drivers can judge a road. Scientific evidence to disprove the reasoning behind these limits could not be gained without people disregarding the law. Same thing with marijuana.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

brkello (642429) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629259)

No, I am pretty sure they could drive cars on closed courses to determine what is an acceptable speed based on curvature of the road, type of road (highway, residential, etc), and number of lanes. You don't need to break any laws to understand this.

In any case, your argument misses the mark because you aren't actually arguing against his point. Only disagreeing with his example.

His point is that in most cases, breaking the rules is going to lead to stricter enforcement of those rules...not loosening of them.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628785)

... want information to be free, even information that other people spent my tax money creating.

FTFY

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629355)

You fixed nothing. Those who want information to be free seldom limit that desire to information paid for exclusively by tax dollars. They also include things like music and movies and computer software produced by individuals and businesses.

I would tend to agree that taxpayer funded information should be free, with some limits. One is that information created under research grants should be first available to people being funded to do that research. That's an issue of keeping the funding available so the information can continue to be created.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628915)

Well yes, "crashing the system" is "breaking the rules."

Unless you're a banker.

Information isn't a sentient thing, and thus has no "want" associated with it.

Information tends towards freedom. Like water tends to assume the shape of its container. Saying "wants" is a cute anthropomorphism that is irrelevant to the point.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629305)

It's like protesting the 65MPH speed limit on the interstate highway by driving 90MPH.

I protested a 55 MPH speed limit by driving it and it worked. Most people went 70 on that road, but when the feds lifted the 55 limit, the city refused to increase it. There was a pole in the paper and 60+% people wanted to keep the 55 limit and 60+% people drove faster than 55. That means that at a minimum 40% of the people wanted to keep 55, but didn't obey it. I was pissed. I drove 55 (right lane) for months. Eventually the county (or state) force them to change the limit, because the speed differential was too dangerous.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (3, Informative)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628553)

The original quote was "Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive.", which itself is a summation of a longer quote. Just quoting the first part changes the meaning dramatically.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628681)

The original quote was "Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive.", which itself is a summation of a longer quote. Just quoting the first part changes the meaning dramatically.

Actually, as anyone working in genetics could tell you, not only does information want to be free, it also is dropping in price each and every day.

Data storage will probably be biological in the near future. We sequence data for less and less and infer more and more each and every day.

Put that in your shortened telomeres and cap it.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (3, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628873)

To your "information wants to be free," I respond, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

The cost of COPYING information once it's been produced is dropping in price each and every day. The cost of CREATING novel information - be it scientific research, music, film, a book, or anything else - but still has a minimum cost floor: the value of the time required for a person to produce it + the cost of tools + development of the skills required + time & cost of training required to be able to create it. That cost will never be "zero" for useful, desirable information.

Put that in your ribosomes and translate it.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629313)

And yet you just referenced how it is free. Cells replicate siRNA sRNA mRNA and various proteins from one copy of instructions, adapt to environments, and crank out many copies.

It's the challenge of so-called Free Trade with China, which actively copies information and patents but will not permit enforcement regimes.

The barriers are all in your mind, man.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628783)

The iconic phrase is attributed to Stewart Brand, who, in the late 1960s, founded the Whole Earth Catalog and argued that technology could be liberating rather than oppressing. The earliest recorded occurrence of the expression was at the first Hackers' Conference in 1984. Brand told Steve Wozniak:

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.

(source [wikipedia.org] )

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629343)

Information just wants to be free.

"On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other"

-Brand, 1960

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628489)

Oh, we remember. It's the authorities who need to remember that sometimes they are on the wrong side of history.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628527)

And you old folks seem to forget that they weren't charged with felonies, nor where they denied the right to preach/protest/pursue their career as a result of their protest. Thankfully the half-assed hippy movement in the 60's wised up the political elements to make non-violent demonstration a life ruining crime.

But thanks for the history lesson, pops. Always nice to hear from those who destroyed our nation get up on their soap box...

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628973)

Perhaps you should choose your method of civil disobedience more carefully, so you also aren't charged with a felony?

It would have been easy for MLK to whip people into a frenzy and incite them to riot and murder, too.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629225)

I don't have points to give, but I would mod the parent "Informative" if I could. Civil disobedience in the 21st century is a method by which citizens are allowed to self-select their second-class citizenship, irrespective of injustice or lack of consequences for law-breaking by the powerful. Organizing protest is the surest way to have your rights limited ("possible terrorist") and to be the subject of (now legally endorsed) Nixonian tactics of intimidation.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628831)

The simple difference between Civil Disobedience and Cyber Crime, is that disobedience is a passive action. Sitting in a store wanting service is passive. Raiding the store's kitchen is active.

DDoS is as close to passive as can be done on the network, but breaking any security should be considered crime. If unsecured ftp or something, then it is fair game due to their sloppiness, which is like leaving sensitive papers in a dumpster.

Effectively a DDoS is a picket line in front of a store's windows or even a stand-in. The loss of customers would be expected and is the point. They can tell the customers to leave with a black list, but that would only work in an ideal situation. Most DDoS would be comparable to putting up signs saying free food @ $LOCATION around town and having unaffiliated (zombies) people interfere with business.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (1)

denvergeek (1184943) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629241)

ll have you know the contents of that dumpster are private! You stick your nose in, you'll be violating attorney-dumpster confidentiality.

Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (4, Insightful)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629245)

Moreover, by definition Civil Disobedience involves breaking the law.

I have no idea what this is supposed to be saying (3, Insightful)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628113)

You don't necessarily have to a hacker to be viewed as one under federal law...But hacking into private computers, or even spreading the information from a hack, could lead to charges under the CFAA.

So you do have to hack in order to be a hacker? Or release hacked information? Is there a legal definition of "hacker" and is it as horrible as the one in the mind of whoever wrote this inane summary?

Re:I have no idea what this is supposed to be sayi (3, Funny)

honestmonkey (819408) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628629)

I just wish they would leave out when writing the summary. It makes it so to understand.

Re:I have no idea what this is supposed to be sayi (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628849)

Just because TF accidentally a word doesn't mean you have to be so. You I'm sayin?

Re:I have no idea what this is supposed to be sayi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628633)

You don't necessarily have to a hacker to be viewed as one under federal law

That's a highly misleading statement, and I don't disagree with your confusion.

You don't have to be a hacker to be prosecuted for computer fraud.

Real world equivalents (5, Insightful)

tokencode (1952944) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628119)

Things in the virtual world should be treated as their real-world equivalents. DDOS is the same as preventing access to a business, this is illegal in the physical world. You can picket, but you cannot impeded customers' access to the facility. For Doxing, if you steal the information, you are liable. This should be no different in the virtual world. If the info was publically accessible, go for it. If it was obtained illegally, then you have to pay the consequences.

Re:Real world equivalents (1, Interesting)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628161)

Actually tell that to the city when they decide it's time to repave the road in front of your business essentially ddos'ing you IRL.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

JazzLad (935151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628479)

"It's not illegal when the [city] does it."

Re:Real world equivalents (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629369)

Point of order:

Most cities/townships actually try to notify the businesses at least 3 months beforehand, and go out of their way (in most cases) to accommodate the businesses affected.

There's also the demonstrable need to do road maintenance, else the entrance to your business eventually winds up a potholed obstacle course.

Re:Real world equivalents (4, Interesting)

lattyware (934246) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628175)

I hate how hard this concept appears to be for so many people - it's so damn obvious, why does the fact it's online make a damn bit of difference? Likewise, if I send a communication to someone, the government shouldn't be able to start looking at it. It's true for post, so why do so many governments keep trying to pretend it shouldn't be so for email?

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628293)

I hate how hard this concept appears to be for so many people - it's so damn obvious

The problem is in the "equivalents" part...many people see as equivalents things that, in fact, aren't equivalent at all.

Re:Real world equivalents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628573)

Because email is not in that law thus its treated as a completely new thing. And because its a completely new thing if there is no law out right banning the 'specific wording' of the practice, its defacto legal.

Re:Real world equivalents (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628523)

Things in the virtual world should be treated as their real-world equivalents.

There's no law that prevents me from going to a Chick-Fil-A and standing in line, and when I get up to the front to order saying "I'd like... hrm... um.. I would liiiike.... oh yeah, I'd like marriage equality for homosexuals." If I get a few thousand of my friends together to do just that, I've created a real world DDOS that is entirely legal.

Similarly, there is no law that prevents me from requesting index.html on a site. If I get a few thousand of my friends together to do that, I've done a DDOS. So why should that be illegal?

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

f0rdpr3fect42 (1866122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628657)

Conversely, you can view DDOS as repression of another party's freedom of expression, which is a violation of their First Amendment rights. I think there's less legal ambiguity there.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

Zenin (266666) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628771)

Actually it's not. The First Amendment only applies to the Government. Private citizens and corporations (corporations are people, my friend) are not subject to it.

Re:Real world equivalents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628773)

First Amendment is about the government not being allowed to censor you and repress your expression. Individuals (or groups of them) are free to tell you to STFU. It's their freedom of expression.

Consider the Westboro Baptist Church disrupting people's funerals. That's their freedom of expression, no matter how unpopular it is. But in turn, other people can express themselves against WBC (i.e one time a bunch of bikers stood up against them, preventing them from protesting at a funeral)

If any harm was done (injury, lost business, libel causes loss of reputation, etc.), that can be take up in the civil courts, outcome being usually just one party paying the other $$$.

Re:Real world equivalents (3, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628683)

If I get a few thousand of my friends together to do just that, I've created a real world DDOS that is entirely legal.

Until the manager says that all such protesters should GTFO or the cops will be called to deal with a bunch of trespassers.

Re:Real world equivalents (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628747)

Sure, but they don't know me from a customer until I wait in line and waste their resources. Once I say "marriage equality" the manager can ask me to leave and I will, but it's too late then.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629379)

It's one thing to make an obnoxious fool of yourself on line, quite another to do it in person.

Go ahead and do it. Video it and put it on youtube for us all to watch.

In addition, I highly doubt that any DDOS is the result of thousands of people protesting by going to a site and crashing it. Rather, it's people using a DDOS tool to illegally bring down the site.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628917)

If I get a few thousand of my friends together to do that, I've done a DDOS. So why should that be illegal?

That's a poor analogy. To follow your narrative, it's more like a thousand friends standing in front of the door and not allowing any other customers from entering the store. That, I fear, is illegal in the real world.

Re:Real world equivalents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628921)

It is true, you can go to the front to order and start going "Id like hmm ... umm... " at any point in time the owners could ask you "Sir, we'd like to ask you to leave the premises" and you'd be required to do so, otherwise they would call the police and you would be trespassing.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

Americano (920576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629045)

There's no law that prevents me from going to a Chick-Fil-A and standing in line, and when I get up to the front to order saying "I'd like... hrm... um.. I would liiiike.... oh yeah, I'd like marriage equality for homosexuals."

Indeed, there's no law preventing you from doing that. Though why you'd do that, I'm not sure - is Chick-Fil-A part of the federal government now? I guess I missed that article of the Constitution where all laws are made & enforced by a fast food chain.

What you're blithely ignoring in this foolishness is that there ARE laws against loitering and trespass, which they can easily have you arrested under if you refuse to leave the store when you're invited to do so by management after it becomes clear that your goal is simply to disrupt their business operations.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

brkello (642429) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629299)

If you do it long enough, you are loitering.

If you are coordinating a distributed attack on a system and preventing others access, thus damaging a companies ability to do business...then yes, that indeed should be illegal.

Flip this around and put yourself in the other shoes. Pretend this was your website and was the way that you made money. I'd imagine you would want it to be illegal for someone to take away your ability to run your business.

There is also a difference between an accidental attack (slashdotting a site) and doing something to intentionally cause harm. Intent matters.

Re:Real world equivalents (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629341)

There are some major differences.
1. You are not protesting anonymously, you are actually being more courageous in actually stating this is my view, vs a DDOS where you just go yea Ill click that button too.

2. Chick-Fil-A can remove you and your friends if they want as well.

3. You see the scope of what you are doing, you can be sure you are following your personal bounds. In a DDOS you have unleaded chaos akin to it getting violent, or the protest expanding across the street to the doctors office, stopping them from working as well.

Re:Real world equivalents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628751)

I wonder if the punishments should also be equivalent. I mean, doesn't any crime with "with a computer" tend to be punished with things like "no computer for you for X months/years"? Isn't that like saying "no standing in front of a business for X months/years"?

Re:Real world equivalents (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629257)

Also, say you did a DOS on a company, Chances are they are hosting their services at some data center who will be hosting for other organizations as well.

At my Previous Job, About 1000 Practices lost access to their Electronic Medical Records for a few minutes (as we switched to an other data center) because our primary data center main network router got killed because they were also hosting some Bank that those hackers didn't like.
Yes you could tout that we could have done a better job at our fail-over method, but that is like blaming an innocent bystanders for getting shot because they didn't think to put on a bullet proof vest that day.

Expanding you analogy it would be like protesters also blocking entrance to a neighboring business that has nothing to do with the protest.

Hacktivism is just stupid. For one it could have unintended side effects secondly due to its anonymous nature you are not getting your point across, besides I don't like you.

Both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628135)

It can be both, or neither. They are not mutually exclusive.

Off topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628143)

Cable Industry Admits That Data Caps Have Nothing To Do With Congestion
http://consumerist.com/2013/01/18/cable-industry-admits-that-data-caps-have-nothing-to-do-with-congestion/

False Dichotomy (5, Insightful)

Palestrina (715471) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628159)

This is a false dichotomy. Something can be both cyber crime and civil disobedience. In fact, that is exactly what civil disobedience is supposed to be. It is not being loud, or annoying, or marching or protesting. Those things are basic 1st Amendment rights.

Civil disobedience, on the other hand, is intentionally breaking a law that is considered unjust or immoral, in order to draw attention to the injustice. Think of Thoreau, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, etc. But note that none of them would break the law and then complain about being charged with the crime. In fact, that was the whole point, being caught, and getting attention.

Re:False Dichotomy (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628231)

Exactly, we have gotten to the point where people want exceptions made to the law, not in the law itself, but in the enforcement of the law. This is the path to either tyranny or anarchy (more likely the former), because it means that those in charge of deciding who to prosecute get to decide what is and is not a crime. Either the law is a good law and should be enforced against all who break it, or it is a bad law and should be changed.

Re:False Dichotomy (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628247)

Civil disobedience means you aren't a CEO of a bank, who will never spend a day in jail for stealing Billions.

Re:False Dichotomy (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628515)

Yes, I agree completely.

I do think though that some laws should be adjusted because the sentences are way out of proportion to the harm caused. For example, unless you are doing it for personal gain (like extortion), a DDOS should be considered a fairly minor crime.

Re:False Dichotomy (4, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628879)

Well, actually Thoreau's idea when he coined the term "civil disobedience" was to simply disobey such a law. It was Gandhi who noticed the publicity value of disobeying unjust laws and watching the authorities dish out beat-downs to enforce it.

What's also particularly interesting is that many acts widely seen as civil disobedience were acts that weren't legitimately against the law in the first place. For instance, Martin Luther King's crime in Birmingham was that he walked down a sidewalk in the front of a group of people singing songs (specifically protected by the First Amendment), following traffic laws, towards City Hall. He was arrested only because the local police chief had gotten a court order that said that Martin Luther King wasn't allowed to lead or participate in any act of protest in Birmingham, which wasn't a legitimate order for the court to give but gave the police the excuse they needed.

Also notable is that not all law-breaking that various political groups engage in is (in my view) civil disobedience. Some left-wing groups, for instance, like to commit crimes like trespassing in order to try to draw attention to a completely unrelated injustice. It usually doesn't work, because (a) the authorities don't do anything stupid like beat them up, (b) they pick targets that don't match what they're trying to protest, (c) their criminal acts don't do anything that would right the injustice, and (d) they don't do it in a way that attracts media attention.

Also relevant is that completely illegitimate and illegal use of force towards protesters now gets significant support from people who really should know better. For instance, the various cases of police pepper-spraying Occupy Wall Street protesters for the heinous crime of walking down a sidewalk holding signs actually had a lot of people saying how glad they were that the cops were doing that.

Re:False Dichotomy (1)

PurpleCarrot (892888) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629057)

Absolutely this. In fact, when Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from the Birmingham Jail, he said:

"I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."

(Source: http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html [upenn.edu] )

Re:False Dichotomy (1)

Palestrina (715471) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629143)

Amen. That is the way to gain moral authority from civil disobedience.

Re:False Dichotomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629243)

Thank you! Too many people these days seem to be under the impression that "Civil Disobedience" is a defense you can use in court to protect yourself from conviction, rather than a philosophy that has nothing to do with avoiding conviction- in fact it has everything to do with BEING CONVICTED.

Exclusive? (3, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628165)

It's not really civil disobedience unless what you're doing is a crime.

active vs. passive? (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628177)

I always thought Civil Disobedience was about passively breaking the law, not actively breaking in, so hacktivism doesn't really count as C.D.

I'm open to being clued-in here....

Re:active vs. passive? (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628823)

In the US Civil Rights movement (which happened before I was born), I believe the sit-in [wikipedia.org] protests were actively breaking the law in that the black protesters were legally barred from entering the place. They knowingly entering and remained in a place they were prohibited. Often this was private property and they stayed there after the property owner demanded they leave.

I would point out that sit-in protests would *still* be illegal: trespassing and disorderly conduct at least (I'm not a lawyer). None they less, they seem to have worked. The laws they were trying to overturn were racial segregation laws.

I'm just trying to explain civil disobedience, not passing judgment on whether DDOS attacks are the equivalent of a sit-in. I haven't decided on that one. But I will say, the sit-in protesters never expected *not* to be arrested.

Re:active vs. passive? (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628979)

The sit-in protesters actually didn't just expect to be arrested. They fully expected to be beaten senseless, and then arrested and jailed, then abused in jail for a while, then lose in court, then go back to jail for a while, then lose whatever college scholarships they had (many of them were students), then be saddled with a criminal record the rest of their life.

That might give you an idea of how ridiculously brave those people were. Just a thought for the upcoming Martin Luther King holiday.

Re:active vs. passive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628847)

Suppose it is unlawful for me to sit at the front of the bus, how do I "passively" sit at the front of the bus?

Re:active vs. passive? (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628895)

Civil disobedience can be active or passive; the defining trait is that it is done with the intention of forcing a change. It generally involves being ready to accept the repercussions of one's actions as well. Rosa Parks is the best example I can come up with right now. She knew what what happen if she refused to give up her seat but she chose to take a stand anyway.

Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime? (1, Redundant)

Jim Przybylinski (2818795) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628181)

Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime?
Yes.

Re:Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628205)

Easy answer:

To hactivists, civil disobedience.
To law enforcement, cyber crime.
To people who respect the English language, an abomination.

And never shall the three change their opinions.

There, that was easy. Next?

Re:Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628937)

I think the question of damage (not necessarily financial loss, but actual un-recoverable damage) needs to be the demark between CD and CC.

If I hack into a bank, and steal information, then tell the bank I have this, but won't release it if they fix their security problem = CD
If I hack into a bank, steal information and sell it to the chinese or russian carders = CC

If I hack into a website, and rm -Rf * the machine = CC
If I DoS the machine by throwing a few GB's of garbage data at it to saturate a critical control node, no damage is done, but it may result in outages while their technical staff try to block or change IP's of the critical control node. That is CD. If doing so exposes customers data, now it's CC.

A Crime should only exist where there is no possibility of reversing the damage, by repairs or financial costs. It's basically a cyber-murder of data.

It's CD when the only thing wasted is time or attention. People blockading a business is CD, not a crime, a DoS attack is essentially a the same thing as driving your truck to the entrance of a building an preventing everyone from entering or leaving, but your truck is still on the public property part of the road.

Since when is this news (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628189)

Why is it news, we've always known hacking was frowned upon and prosecuted. What's the big hairy deal here?

Re:Since when is this news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628323)

I agree. i don't see what the big deal is either, doesn't matter what type of hacking it is, at the end of the day, it's still and will always be a crime and you will get prosecuted for your actions if caught, move on.

And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628197)

Were these things not already illegal? I don't get it.

both (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628201)

Civil disobedience by definition is crime. If it's not a crime, then it's no longer disobedience. It's being a citizen or websurfer consumer or whatever you want to call yourself.

It depends... (3, Insightful)

Hrrrg (565259) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628223)

Civil disobedience is about making a statement that a law is unjust. Therefore, it has to be done in the open, and you have to take responsibility for your actions. If you are hiding what you are doing, then you're just breaking the law.

Property trumps people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628387)

It has come to the point where crimes involving property are being punished more severely than crimes against persons. However, it is all about how important the person is and how important is the property .

==//==

Re:Property trumps people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628419)

Bullshit.

Re:Property trumps people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628587)

Citation Needed

If civil disobedience, also cybercrime (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628389)

Civil disobedience means breaking the law to protest the injustice of the law. Since the "cyber" part is not in question with hacktivism, it is either:
  • Cybercrime and also civil disobedience, or
  • Cybercrime but not civil disobedience, or
  • Neither cybercrime nor civil disobedience

The "civil disobedience or cybercrime" dichotomy demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of what "civil disobedience" means.

Dr. McCoy (3, Interesting)

yawmite (447399) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628415)

How can you get a permit to do an illegal thing? - Dr. McCoy. Star Trek III.

Why would someone who doesn't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628493)

Why would someone who obviously doesn't know the definition of "civil disobedience" and couldn't be bothered to Google it submit a story about civil disobedience to Slashdot?

Title is title of TFA (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629037)

Why would someone who obviously doesn't know the definition of "civil disobedience" and couldn't be bothered to Google it submit a story about civil disobedience to Slashdot?

The Slashdot headline is the title of TFA, so its not the Slashdot submitter -- or not just the submitter, at any rate, unless they also happen to be the author of the headline of TFA -- that has the problem with the definition of "civil disobedience".

The Hackers (2)

lazarus (2879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628547)

Yes, poor name, but the BBC recently put together a decent documentary about Hacktivists amongst other cyber security topics called The Hackers [bbc.co.uk] . Nothing in it may be news to you but it may be a useful resource for someone you know who doesn't understand the point or how it is done. True to the documentary form, they spent most of it on interviews with the people involved.

Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628569)

Yes.

Cybercrime?!? (2)

j-turkey (187775) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628595)

Cybercrime: what rational people refer to as crime.

Re:Cybercrime?!? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629051)

Cybercrime: what rational people refer to as crime.

Since when does "rational" imply not being able to understand that, within crime, there are various different crimes which can be by various common features?

If it costs the victim money, it's crime (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628597)

Of course, there are gray areas there, but generally speaking, if what you do costs the target money? You're probably committing a crime.

Civil Disobedience (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628845)

The real protest in civil disobedience starts when you pay the price, not when you do the deed. This is what gets the dialogue started, this is how you draw sympathy to your cause. The activists of decades past understood this. When exactly did we as a culture forget?

Re:Civil Disobedience (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42628953)

We as a culture forgot to care about people suffering because of unjust laws. Nobody cares if you're disproportinately punished for your civil disobedience, because "it's the law, hrrr".

Re:Civil Disobedience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629373)

Nobody cares if you're punished for what you believe is civil disobedience if they believe the law is just. Just because you believe a law is unjust doesn't mean the rest agree with you. People do care if you are diproportionately punished if they feel it's disproprotionate. What you hold true/false may not be what others do.

You are not always on the just side. Even if it feels that way to you. This is why disagreements occur. Not because someone woke up and decided to be unjust. People in the "wrong" are in the "right" in their mind. The culture didn't forget. The culture either changed and doesn't think the same as you or you changed from what the culture was thinking.

Cyber Crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42628933)

Next question please.

These laws are asinine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629027)

The whole system is a joke, especially when it comes to issues such as IP, patents, and cyber crime. The system seems designed to stifle the progress of our species as a whole, for the benefit of lawyers and some of the wealthiest.

Aaron Swartz was a pussy. Instead of suiciding and getting a few days of mainstream media coverage, he should have fought belligerently against his charges and exposed the rules for what they are: arbitrary and capricious.

The thing is, these rules and regulations aren't going to stop people from doing what they think is right. It is time for the government, hollywood/entertainment industry, corporations trying to hoard ideas/information, etc. to wake up. We live in a new world now that the internet is everywhere. If you don't want your computer systems messed with, you're sure as hell going to need a better way of protecting them than the legal system.

How about... (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629081)

How about publication of information publicly available on computer servers... say a list of registered hand gun owners in a certain region? Or do the laws only work when its convenient for the people with power?

It isn't civil disobedience if it isn't illegal. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629095)

n/t

Unfair comparison (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629277)

That is quite the unfair comparison, and Aaron Swartz is no Bradley Manning. Aaron Swartz downloaded academic materials that that were otherwise available to the public and hardly secret. Bradley Manning is a traitor that sought to embarrass his country by exposing as many secrets en mass as he could. Manning did significant harm to international diplomatic relations and endangered countless lives. It's a bit like saying a protestor holding a sign is the same as the saboteur derailing a train, it's intellectually dishonest at best.

Does it matter? (1)

xyourfacekillerx (939258) | about a year and a half ago | (#42629301)

Here's the thing: You can claim justice for hacktivism all you like, but when someone takes down your site or disrupts your system, you will not approve. Just like a thief has no moral conscience when taking things, will still call the police when someone breaks into his house. The question isn't whether it's laudable (not all civil disobedience qualifies as acts of heroism) it's about whether you want this done to you. The government has an interest in keeping social order and so it makes sense to categorize hacktivism as a crime.

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42629381)

Against government's websites and services? Civil Disobedience.
Against private servers and networks? Cyber Crime.

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