8 December 2010

Hacktivists

"Hacktivists". That's a new word on me. I've been aware of hackers and self-interested purveyors of spam. I think of such people as the lowest of the low. Instead of riding with the thrilling internet wave, they've been actively trying to spoil our journey. But "hacktivists", well they're something different.

It's all to do with "WikiLeaks", founded by Australian whistleblower, Julian Assange. It seems very clear that the American government have been applying a range of behind-the-scenes pressures to discredit "WikiLeaks" and seriously hinder its functionality. The founder of "PayPal" even admitted that the reason he had severed links with "WikiLeaks" was because of arm-twisting overtures from Washington. It wasn't that he wanted to disconnect but realised that his company's well-being would be harmed if he did not comply.

Then "Mastercard" and "Visa" withdrew their services from "WikiLeaks". Remember that these are companies that happily service porn websites and sites that promote the use and sale of guns. The two card companies have previously shown no inkling of corporate morality. They have always been ruled by their hunger for profit.

Little did they appreciate that out here in the real world, skilled computer-savvy individuals were preparing to launch cyber-attacks on their own functionality by hacking into their websites and databases in protest at their clearly politically-inspired efforts to divorce themselves from "WikiLeaks". So such computer geeks are not just plain mischief-making "hackers" or political activists, they are a mixture of the two - "hacktivists" - using their technical expertise for political purposes.

It seems to me that truth is a healthy thing and that "WikiLeaks" has been on a mission to reveal truths of which the rest of us were unaware. Some of these truths are uncomfortable or embarrassing - especially for the government of the United States but truth is something precious. The world needs more truth, not less.

I don't know what happened in Sweden with regard to the sex charges against Mr Assange. Apparently, one of the the women concerned is saying that Assange did not wear the condom she'd requested before they had consensual sex. Is that rape? And why did that London judge deny Assange bail when he had voluntarily presented himself at a police station and why did the Swedish authorities fail to present any significant evidence for their assault claims?

The whole thing stinks. If I had the technical know-how to engage in "hacktivism", I would happily be targeting "PayPal" and "VIsa" right now. It's something new. Hitting where it hurts. Not with swords or grenades, machine guns or IED's but with some clever computer codes and the simple click of a mouse. We don't need to run to the barricades any more, we can just sip cups of tea as we press buttons on our laptops.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:59 pm

    Yawn. Why don't the "hacktivists" take-down Amazon.com's website?

    Instead, they pursue organizations whose websites are incidental to their businesses (swiss bank, paypal, visa/mastercard). None of the latter organizations rely on their websites in a meaningful commerce manner...except...Amazon.com.

    The actions of the hacksters lack substance, unlike those who are attacking WikiLeaks’ website...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm a little dense, so bear with me as I'm trying to understand this. It's OK for the Australian who owns Fox News to spread premeditated lies on TV every night, affect US elections, and promote mayhem, but it's illegal for another Australian to spread the truth to those who choose to read it?

    Why are the Swedes involved? I was counting on Europeans to be smarter about these things and help pull us all out of idiotic messes like this.

    I understand hacktivism, I DID read the Girl with the Tattoos, but what has Amazon done to deserve being taken down?

    And finally, I don't even care what Wiki is leaking. I am inspired to see if I can actually find my old checkbook and send some money that way. Next thing you know, the governments will be taking down the internet so we can't all discuss these things.

    Maybe the Wikileaks have something in them about how we're all getting screwed over so the governments and the wealthy can fund their secret 2012 project, like my son and his friends claim.

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  3. I may not have followed the Wikileaks story closely enough, but I'm not entirely sure what it is Assange is blowibng the whistle on.

    Mostly it just seems to be confirmation of what we already knew -- that the US is a superpower that throws its weight around, we can't trust Pakistan, Sarkozy is a jumped up corporal etc.

    I don't buy into the 'blood on his hands argument' but neither am I convinced that embarrassing governments for the sake of it can be justified as being in the public interest.

    Didn't Churchill say: "Truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

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  4. ANONYMOUS I'm afraid I don't get the point you're trying to make. As far as I know, Amazon have not sought to deliberately undermine WikiLeaks at the behest of US agencies.
    JAN Good contrast with Murdoch's business dealings. This money-mad megalomaniac has also had undue influence on British politics without ever being democratically elected.
    SHOOTING PEAS Thanks for giving us a different perspective on the topic.

    ReplyDelete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.