Identifying the Ideology of “Hacktivism”

Mark Ranario Discourse and Technology Dr. Susan Lang April 20, 2008

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Introduction As global politics continue to endure a turbulent and complex time in history, an awareness of the hacktivism will continue expanding and evolving. However, previous attempts to pin down its precise definition have proven difficult, misleading and inconclusive. Even among prominent thinkers of hacktivism, such as Oxblood Ruffin and Stephen Wray, as they have publicly disagreed on what types of direct action are best suited to reflect the hacktivist ideology. Ruffin has characterized hacktivism as a form of “disruptive compliance,” while Wray argues that it should present itself as a form of passive civil disobedience (Ruffin, 2002, 2001; Wray, 1998). At the opposite end of the spectrum, some observers seem largely content with categorizing all hacktivist activities as malicious and destructive threats (Denning, 2001). As a result, rather being read as a unique conceptualization, hacktivism often becomes pigeonholed into the existing subcultures of hacking, activism or cyber-terrorism.

By focusing on the ideological sources hacktivism in regards to more contemporary examples, this paper will attempt to shed more light on its general nature. It is argued that hacktivism is tethered to non-violent and constructive ideals. With a clearer understanding of hacktivism, it will allow us to better judge future acts as being acceptable or unacceptable forms of digital protest. Moreover, we can begin to lessen the kind of hostile rhetoric often used to describe hacktivism and its causes. Brian Still notes that, “Using rhetoric to paint the hacker as a threat, however, is a very effective tool that governments and corporations can rely on, as they have in the past, to paint the hacker in a negative light, thereby thwarting many of the efforts hacktivists make to legitimize their actions in support of valid causes that many people might or do support” (2005). By emphasizing non-violent and constructive qualities of hacktivism, I hope to clarify the approach to its study in the future.

Hacktivism The relationship between activism and technology may not be unique, but the potential of today’s technology to advance social causes has expanded considerably. In the United States, activism is being revived, expanded, and infused within a new type of digital framework. Technology oriented activist groups not only leverage innovative ways to apply common technology to social causes, but have extended its function beyond the typical realms of cyberspace and software. The emerging trend of purposing technology for activist agendas has been referred to in a number of different ways, including technivism, e-activism, electronic advocacy, and cyber-activism.

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Unlike the more generic references to technology and activism, the term “hacktivism” was borne out of a specific goal of resisting, “the commodification of the internet at the hands of corporate profiteers and violations of human rights at the hands of oppressive governments” (Manion, 2000, p. 14). Such ideals are clearly evident in the manifestos and group ideologies promoted by prominent self-labeled hacktivist groups such as the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc), the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) and the Electro-Hippie Collective. As a portmanteau of “hacking” and “activism,” hacktivism synthesizes elements from both terms, creating a unique practice tailored to advance a politicized cause in the digital era. Although the original movement in the 1990s had focused primarily on using software, hacktivism has evolved to embrace all forms of technology-related human acts agendas. Within the nomenclature of the movement, “hacktions” refers to acts of hacktivism, and “hacktivists” are individuals who align themselves with the hacktivist mission. Alternatively, “hacktions” are sometimes called “hacktivity.” The use of “hack” as a prefix symbolizes the distinct technological focus of direct acts of protest. Understandably, the recurring presence of the term “hack” is misleading because it continually echoes a relationship to the hacker culture. Though hacktivism originated out of a specific agenda, public and scholarly assessments have given mixed description, partly due to its immaturity and its relationship with the hacker culture. Academic publications and media outlets have often failed to provide an adequate explanation of its distinct nature, relying instead on extant hacker stereotypes to position hacktivism as being primarily “computer hacking” for political purposes. In the past decade, hacktivism has been described as being a novel, but questionable, form of protest to a fearinspiring form of cyber-terrorism (Denning, 1999, 2001). To clarify, hacktivism combines hacking techniques with socio-political agendas, but the tools of today’s hacktivists are not limited to software. Moreover, hacktivism differentiates itself through ideology, supplanting the technological ends of hackers with more humanistic goals, “Hacking, as it evolved over time, increasingly became the pursuit of technological means as an end in itself. Hacktivism, by contrast, is presented as a refocusing upon the political nature of the end to which technological means should be put: a normative element has been put back into objectified computer code” (Taylor, 2005). It is crucial to note that the activist ideology embedded in hacktivism is a defining characteristic, for without it, we would simply be left with hacker motivations. The way we can separate hacktivists from hackers who leverage their skills for political reasons will be explored in this paper, and the first step is to identify some of the mistakes made in early portrayals of hacktivism.

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Hong Kong Blondes, the Cult of the Dead Cow and the Hoax of Hostile Hacktivism The manner in which we discuss hacktivist software has substantial implications on public perception and on how state or national actors define their responses. Under the provisions of the “US PATRIOT ACT,” computer crimes that are deemed to harm, disrupt, threaten or act with the intention of injury can be elevated to acts of “terrorism” (PATRIOT ACT, 2001; Cyber Security Enhancement Act, 2002; Sentencing Commission, 2003). This can be especially dangerous self-declared hacktivists in the US because the government’s definition of hacktivism is broadly defined as any combination of hacking and political activism (National Infrastructure Protection Center, 2001). Individuals who justify computer hacking solely as a means to an end do not qualify as being hacktivists. For example, the 1,000 Website defacements claimed by the Honker Union of China (HUC) should not be considered as a form of hacktivism because they were not constructive applications of technology. Moreover, as a reaction to American hacker attacks, and especially in using aggressive language in their defacements, “Beat Down the Imperialism of America,” the HUC did more to foster state to state tensions than it did to draw awareness to universal rights issues (BBC, 2001). It is precisely with these types of incidents that publications seem to confuse the terms. Thus, it is important to revisit the line between hacktivism and other forms of destructive and violent forms of politically motivated computer activity. In what was perhaps one of the earliest references to hacktivism in a political forum, Dorothy Denning presented to the World Affairs Council a paper titled, “Activism, Hacktivism, and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a Tool for Influencing Foreign Policy.” In the paper, Denning gives a broad definition of politically motivated computer activity as being either hacktivism or cyberterrorism; the former described as “a convergence of hacking with political activism with the intention to disrupt but not cause serious damage,” and the latter “a convergence of cyberspace and terrorism with the intent to cause grave harm” (1999). Denning’s method of discerning between hacktivism and cyberterrorism is unclear because it centers on the degree of destruction caused and on the potential threat it carries into the future. Moreover, she excludes the possibility of non-violent/non-destructive interpretations of hacktivism by concluding with a focus on the potential for hacktivist methods to evolve in a way that could cause “grave harm.” By implicating hacktivism as a destructive ideology, the general public is less likely to be accepted as an acceptable form of protest. Though Denning’s early portrayal of hacktivism was a far cry from what hacktivists had claimed it to be, scholars have since begun to approach concepts of “e-governance” and “electronic civil disobedience” as being peaceful and legal form of computer related political activity (Balnaves, 2006; Vacca, 2006). I speculate that hacktivism

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has had difficulty overcoming such a maligned reputation because: 1) having branched out of the hacker culture, the concept of hacktivism has taken some time to mature into its own, and 2) researchers had relied on examples that did not reflect the hacktivist ideology. As a result, the first publications on hacktivism were somewhat misleading. For example, Denning (1999), Balnaves (2006), Vacca (2006) and an official UK government report on Netcrime (Morris, 2004), cite the “Hong Kong Blondes” as an example of the kind of dangers that hacktivists pose to national security. Under the premise of resisting Internet censorship practices in China, the “Hong Kong Blondes” were purported to have successfully removed content filters from Chinese government computers, warned activists about imminent arrest, defaced websites, hijacked domains, and planted Trojan horses. Ironically, what these scholars failed to realize, or refused to acknowledge, was that the story of the Blondes was invented. In 1999, The IT Daily News investigated the story, concluding that it was a staged hoax by the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc). Despite having revealed the Hong Kong Blonds to be fictional, no corrections have been made to past references of the Blondes nor has there been any further discussion as to why the hoax was engineered in the first place. Quite possibly, the cDc may have invented the Blondes as a way to draw attention to their movement. In an “interview” Oxblood Ruffin of the cDc asks a fictional member of the Blondes named “Blondie Wong,” “What can people do, hackers, members of the general public, anyone, what can they do to help the Blondes?” The res ponse is as follows:
Alright, the first thing is this. There are many ways to get involved to support the struggle for human rights in China. Becoming aware is the beginning. Just talking about it is important, educating yourself. But if we are talking about the hacker community, you know, what they can do, this really is a matter of personal choice. I think that if people want to participate they should use the skills that they have. That is all they can do. (Ruffin, 1998)

In this “interview,” neither Oxblood nor the interviewee advocates the use of computer hacking to achieve political goals. Rather, it is suggested that the “first thing” is educating oneself to world events, which conveniently, is exactly what the interview does. A subsequent press release regarding the separation from the cDc with the Hong Kong Blondes encouraged participation in a letter writing campaign sponsored by The Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's letter regarding the trials of Lin Hai and Wang Youcai (Vegetable, 1999).

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I concede that the possibility of being able to successfully hack into government computers may encourage or inspire real-life imitations, reading the Blondes as a hoax makes it no different from movies like “Hackers” or “War Games.” Perhaps recognizing that an audience of non-hackers would be closely following the story, the cDc portrays the Hong Kong Blondes in contrast to negative hacker stereotypes:
Common Hacker Stereotypes Male dominated culture Introverted and socially awkward personalities Hong Kong Blondes A woman, “Lemon Li,” is the leader of the group Blondie Wong is depicted as being well -traveled, articulate, highly educated and socially conscious. Refer ences to Seinfeld and the Harlem Globetrotters also suggest “normal” social skills. Half of the group work for the government and are all well educated Driven by human rights causes and inspired by figures such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. The group is comprised of 22+ members and continues to grow

Hackers are typically teenagers or social outcasts Driven by ego, competition, crime or thrill Operates as either a “lone wolf” or in small tightly knit “crews”

Towards the end of the interview, Blondie Wong seems to hint at the uniqueness and future of the hacktivist movement, “Younger people have a great deal of talent although they can be very awkward. . . I think they are different from the generation of hackers before them. They want the recognition and attention, but they also want to do something to contribute to change things in a positive way. In general, I think what they are doing will grow and turn into something that makes a difference” (Ruffin, 1998). Though the fictional Blondes had relied on hacking skills, the future (i.e. not hackers) will have to press for change in a more positive and constructive manner. This change in direction is reinforced by the sheer improbability of Blondie’s operations, i.e. government agents as members, access to international networks, and the ability to move endangered members into international safe-houses. The closer one looks at the Blondes, the more unrealistic their story becomes. It is more likely that the hoax was intended to bring attention to what hacktivists have been trying to say all along. Ruffin provides direct clarification:
…many online activists claim to be hacktivists, but their tactics are often at odds with what we consider hacktivism to be. From the cDc’s perspective, creati on is good; destruction is bad. . .cDc does not consider Web defacements or Denial of Service (DoS) attacks to be legitimate hacktivist actions. The former is nothing more than hi –tech vandalism, and the latter, an assault on free speech. (Ruffin, 2002)

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Though the hoax of the Hong Kong Blondes does not upend arguments of hacktivism being a potentially malicious and violent movement, it does highlight some of the inadequacies and the liberties taken in defining hacktivism. Going forward, we should bear thi s in mind as there are many terms that overlap with digital activist communities, i.e. hackers, crackers, hacktivists, e-activists, 1337 hacking, etc. It is crucial that we carefully and adequately scrutinize before we generalize what is either an acceptable or non-acceptable form of digital protest. Securing the government network and system integrity is crucial to the operations of modern nation-states, and we must certainly take aggressive steps to counter those who attempt to breach them. As global citizens, hacktivists recognize the importance of preserving a stable network and unlike “cyber-terrorists,” they do not look for ways to disrupt them. However, by erroneously placing hacktivists in the same category as “cyber-terrorists,” we are ignoring an important intersection between people, technology and political ideology. To put things into perspective, it is like recognizing the differences between radical activists and Civil Rights protestors, “The hacktivist who defaces web pages for his cause is the electronic equivalent of the activist who smashes windows or graffitis the sides of building…however, destructive activity is not the norm. What is the norm is the desire to educate the public about the issues at hand, to help out those in need” (Levesque, 2006, p.1213). As the hoax of the Blondes demonstrates, the motivations behind hacktivism are not to sabotage, destroy or permanently cripple government operations, but to bring attention to violations of human rights and to protect the responsible flow of information on the Internet. The attacks on the Chinese government were fictional, but the increased awareness to computer vulnerabilities and Chinese censorship practices were real. Those at the forefront of the hacktivist movement, such as Stephen Wray, and Richard Dominguez, and groups like the Cult of the Dead Cow, the Electronic Disturbance Theater and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have largely shaped the hacktivist movement after Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and principles of nonviolence. As an act of intentional misinformation, the cDc had effectively subverted the mainstream media, and because the hoax did not inflict any physical harm or destroy any property (digital or physical) we can read the Blondes as multi-layered hacktion of civil disobdedience. Rather than rely on external observations to assume that hacktivism can be destructive, we would be better prepared to read into past and future hacktions through the lenses of publicly declared hacktivist ideologies. A Bottom-Up Approach: Starting with the Hacktivists Themselves Among the terms used to describe hacktivism, many of them had a very militant tone: “battle ground,” “guerrilla theater,” “serious threat,” “sabotage,” “espionage,” “attacks,” “organized attacks,” “e-mail bombings,” “e-mail carpet bomb,” “virus launchings,” “system

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control and destruction,” “manipulation,” “assault,” “takeover,” and “cybotage.” While previous hacking incidents have stoked legitimate fears regarding computer security, I believe that such vernacular, when applied to hacktivism, is exaggerated. The rhetoric found in hacktivist declaration, missions or “manifestos” communicates a much different stance, as a hostile rhetoric is largely absent. The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) and Electrohippies have sections on their websites dedicated to explaining, justifying, and organizing calls for digital direct action (hacktions) prior to their start. These groups make their intentions public and even offer open forums for community discussions . As seen earlier, the cDc even makes an effort to have official press releases. Taylor recognizes that while hacktivists encourage direct action, they do not endorse or promote approaches that are overtly threatening, harassing or destructive, preferring to “center on producing, providing and spreading information outside of government control or regulation” (2001, p. 6). Underlying this pattern of behavior are the ethical and ideological guidelines set down by the hacktivists themselves. In his analysis of hacktivism, Manion advises that, “. . . resistance to political oppression and corporate manipulation must be embedded in a well-articulated theory, one that is morally informed and widely shared. . . They need to be durable and sustain a commitment, lasting through adversaries of repression” (2000, p. 18). Yet since the beginning, hacktivists have made their views and ideologies publicly available. One can easily find documented hacktivist ideologies on the Internet using conventional means (note: should you choose to look for them, these documents are not protected by passwords, rigged to launch any viruses or obscured in anyway). Unfortunately, more time has been spent interpreting and analyzing purported incidents of hacktivism rather than learning from the “well-articulated theories” already shared within the hacktivist community. Direct references to the hacktivist produced manifestos, missions and philosophies are notably absent from the bibliographies of authors who attempt to explain it (Karatzogianni, 2004; Levesque, 2006; Vacca, 2006; Denning, 1999, 2000, 2001; Nissenbaum, 2002; Anderson, 2006). Without adequately considering what the hacktivist community has had to say about itself, it is easier to misinterpret hacktivism in regards to its historical association with hacker stereotypes, and excluding the hacktivist viewpoint discounts the efforts hacktivists have made to provide a sustainable ideology for their community. However, recent works have begun to address this research gap by acknowledging hacktivist-published theories (Samuels, 2001, 2004; Still, 2003; Conway, 2007), and hopefully, such works will help sharpen the focus of what hacktivism truly means as a form of online/cyber protest, “Hacktivists, although they use the Internet as a site for political action, are not cyberterrorists either. They view themselves as heirs to those who employ the tactics of trespass and blockade in the realm of real -world

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protest. They are, for the most part, engaged in disruption not destruction (Conway, 2007, p. 13).

In view of the trend, I include select public declarations made by The Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc), Electrohippies and the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT). As demonstrations of non-violent, constructive and even democratic ideals, the statements require little interpretation and largely speak for themselves. In particular, the works by the cDc, Electrohippies, and the EDT are significant because they represent the most frequently cited hacktivist groups among scholars and are currently the most prominent actors in the hacktivist community. These excerpts will hopefully shed more light on the motivations behind hacktions and clarify hacktivist mindset (all emphases are mine): Cult of the Dead Cow: From “The Hacktivismo Declaration”
We recognize the right of governments to forbid the publication of properly categorized state secrets, child pornography, and matters related to personal privacy and privilege, among other accepted restrictions. But we oppose the use of state power to control access to the works of critics, intellectuals, artists, or religious figures...we will study ways and means of circumventing state sponsored censorship of the Internet and will implement technologie s to challenge information rights violations. (Ruffin, 2001)

Electrohippies: From “Client-side Distributed Denial-of-Service”
The structure of the client-side distributed actions developed by the electrohippies means that there must be widespread support across a country, or continent in order to make the system work. Our method has built within it the guarantee of democr atic account ability. If people don't vote with their modems, the collective action would be an abject failure. Fundamentally, it's the mode of the protest on the Internet that is important when evaluating the legitim acy of the action. (DJNZ, 2001)

Electronic Disturbance Theater: From “On Electronic Civil Disobedience”
. . . As hackers become politicized and as a ctivists become computerized, we are going to see an increase in the number of cyber-activists who engage in what will become more widely known as Electronic Civil Disobedience. The same principals of traditional civil disobedience, like trespass and blockage , will still be applied, but more and more these acts w ill take place in ele ctronic or digital form. (Wray, 1998)

Rhetorically, these quotes reflect a much different image of the hacktivist. In selfdescription, they are more like activists than terrorists. The promotion of non-violent and non-

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destructive means of electronic civil disobedience, virtual sit-ins, and manipulations of technology also excludes the use of more insidious tactics like viruses, worms or unauthorized system infiltrations. In regards to published criticisms of coordinated Denial of Service (DoS) hacktions and temporary Website defacements, one should note that the hacktivist community has also questioned the nature of their virtues, “There is an ongoing debate concerning denial of service attacks and web defacements. On the one side there are those who find that such actions run contrary to other people’s right to freedom of speech and those who view these actions as the only way to get the public’s attention” (Karatzogianni, 2004, p. 74). Such examples of ongoing self-criticism and community introspection are not isolated, indicating the presence of a collective consciousness that will actively hold specific behaviors accountable to established hacktivist ideology. Nevertheless, actions often speak louder than words, and it is necessary to evaluate whether or not hacktivists follow through on their principles. In the next section, I demonstrate the reckless nature of the media in responding to the actions of one particular hacktivist group, and how a closer analysis actually reinforces a constructive and human-rights centered approach. Following Through: Cult of the Dead Cow and “Goolag” There is already considerable documentation on cDc’s “Back Orifice,” the Electrohippies campaign against the World Trade Organization and EDT’s support of the Zapatista virtual sitins, so there is little need to repeat those ideas here. So for this paper, I believe it is more relevant to look at a more recent hacktion. The example use is promoted directly by hacktivists the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc), and I will analyze the hacktion in terms of embedded principles, courses of action and public consequences. Without knowing the context of the cDc, news reports on “Goolag” appear quite concerning. Related headlines include, “Goolag Tool Lets Google Aid Hackers,” and “Use of Google for Data Triggers Fears.” In a number of articles, Ruffin is quoted, “If I were a government, a large corporation, or anyone with a large web site, I'd be downloading this beast and aiming it at my site yesterday. The vulnerabilities are that serious.” Yahoo! News added to fears by reporting financial and business concerns, and on the effect “Goolag” would have on breeding better equipped hackers. At first glance, the release of “Goolag” does not appear to be an attempt by the cDc to mislead mainstream media outlets or a way to trump up publicity for a human rights cause. The open-source “Goolag” was widely reported as a boon for inexperienced hackers and an “automatic weapon” that would allow hackers to increase the

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number of security attacks on business and government Websites. However, tech savvy journalists have been more skeptical. In the “TechHerald,” Steve Ragan notes that, “The FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) on this story actually comes from the AFP (Agence France-Presse) . . . Use Goolag, if you want, but do not fall for the fear and doubt that the mass media gave it. It is a tool, nothing more” (2008). Although “Goolag” does make it easier to identify security vulnerabilities using the Google search engine and “dorkbot” scripts, only a handful of skilled “hackers” would know how to exploit them. Judging from mostly tepid responses from network security professionals , those same hackers would probably not need “Goolag” in the first place. One security consultant even recommended an alternative to “Goolag,” by resourcing Amazon’s Web Services to build an even more effective vulnerability scanning tool (Claburn, 2008). The media’s portrayal of “Goolag” fits right into the definitions provided by Denning, et al. While there are legitimate concerns about a simplified and automated way to “Google” hack, let us also consider the release of “Goolag” in the context of past actions by the cDc. On the cDc Website, the group tracks the mainstream media stories that have reported on their activities. What is interesting about the list is that it is prefaced by the statement, “We intend to dominate and subvert the media wherever possible. Information is a virus. And we intend to infect all of you (cDc, 1984-Current). The cDc press release of “Goolag” is very similar to that of the Hong Kong Blondes in that the cDc provided news outlets with ominous statements that are nearly impossible to verify. In “InformationWeek,” Thomas Claburn mentions that Ruffin also provided him with a list of 11 Government websites that reportedly have major security vulnerabilities. However, it is unclear if author was able to verify the claims. Despite such implications, curious would-be hackers are warned by “Goolag” that running multiple scans will result in the block of your IP address. With over 1,300 possible search strings, the likelihood of an inexperienced hacker being able to take advantage of “Goolag” to find the alleged government vulnerabilities is slim. In other words, the tool mostly benefits people who already know what to look for, i.e. experienced hackers and security professionals. In the Washington Post, Amichai Shulman, chief technology officer with security vendor Imperva, notes that such scanning techniques are already well-known in the community. Unintentionally, he also revealed what was probably the actual intention of “Goolag,” "Maybe the headlines that this release is getting will serve as a wake-up call for application owners." Among the published goals of the cDc include working towards a more free and secure Internet. By creating widespread concern for Website vulnerabilities, the cDc had effectively manipulated the media to advance yet another one of their causes. Being true to an act of

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hacktivism, the release of “Goolag” on February 25 th, 2008 also served another function. On February 14th, 2008, the cDc participated in a “Valentine’s Day” protest against Google’s compromises with the RoPC’s Internet censorship practices. Non-coincidentally, protestors bore signs and wore T-shirts that read: “Goolag” (Broach, 2008). On March 3rd, 2008, another cDc press release read, “Chinese Government Web Servers Loaded With Kiddie Porn Graphics, Sex Toys, And Good Old-Fashioned Pron. Western Government Web Servers, No Pron But Plenty Of Holes” (cDc Homepage, 2008). In contrast to alleged refusals to report vulnerabilities of US government sites, links to specific examples were posted. Those who continued to follow the story would have realized that “Goolag” is much more effective at finding illegal and illicit content on unsecure servers, and therefore, a legitimate means for average citizens to contribute to the fight against child-pornography. The impact of “Goolag” goes beyond a public release of an apparent “hacker” program. The method in which “Goolag” was released achieved four things; 1) an increased awareness of Website vulnerabilities, 2) an increased awareness of Google’s compliance with censorship practices in China, 3) refreshed the public of the presence of the cDc, and 4) promoted a tool that can be used for more constructive purposes. In yet another twist, “Goolag” was not even created by the cDc. The official press release and license for “Goolag’s” credits the development of the scanning technique to “Johnny.I.Hack.Stuff,” who describes himself as a security professional and self-declared hacker. Those who are familiar with programming would probably realize that “hacking” skills were not required to write the program or the GUI. In line with the ideology published by the cDc, the unsaid implication of those who expressed a fear of “Goolag” is that not all information on the Internet should be free. Yet at the same time, there are contexts in which companies like Google should help defend the freedoms of responsible information access. Themost powerful, influential and versatile technological resource at the hacktivist’s disposal is the Internet. The wide-reaching social networks and organizational tools once reserved for larger Non-Government Organizations (NGO) such as Greenpeace, are now readily available to smaller groups though the Internet and advances in technology, “activists realized that the internet was ideal for transporting messages to a wider audience. It cost relatively nothing in order to publish messages to a public forum or website, compared to the considerable costs involved in operating a radio or television station or printing a newspaper” (Levesque, 2006, p. 1204). Originally intended as a platform for national security or scientific research, activists are constantly finding ways to leverage its global network. To contribute to the disruption or destruction of a stable Internet environment does not serve the interests of hacktivists. The Internet is a great tool for generating popular support for activist causes in a non-violent way, “The Internet changes the nature of collective action, but contrary to popular

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belief, the Internet would appear to be especially suited to persuasive collective action rather than confrontational action” (Brunsting, 2002, p. 550). In cyberspace, activist efforts are no longer isolated or kept out of view from the public eye, and the publicity that “Goolag” received is an example of how the Internet can be used to promote human rights causes in a non-violent way. Unlike the hoax of the Hong Kong Blondes, for which the cDc fabricated an entire story, it was primarily the media that fictionalized a negative spin. That in itself is possibly a statement by the cDc regarding the way media reports will travel in cyberspace. In the case of “Goolag,” the way that technology is used represents the creativity that defines the hacktivist movement. The use of software as a direct form of hacktivism has received most of the attention, but in the future, hacktivists are turning to broader applications of technology to achieve their goals. Hacktivism 2.0 and Beyond The Website “Witness” is a good example of the broadening nature of hacktivism. The mission of “Witness” is to encourage civilians to use commonly available technologies, such as cell phones with video capabilities, to record and report incidents of state injustice (“Witness,” 2008). What qualifies “Witness” as a hacktivist group is that it purposes an unintended use of technology with a non-violent and human-rights centered goal. Similarly, Robert Dominguez, a well known hacktivist who spearheaded the Zapatista cyber-protests, has come out with a novel use of public GPS satellite systems. With specialized programs, illegal immigrants who are forced to cross harsh desert environments can be directed to life-saving sources of food and water. In contrast to “Witness,” only a few individuals are needed to operate the custom GPS system. The effectiveness of these two examples demonstrates the kind of impact that technology can have when placed in the hands of any number of civic minded individuals. Other notable examples include neighborhood webcam systems that become triggered by the sound of gunshots (Bureau of Inverse Technology), the use of high powered LASER technology to project highly visible messages of protest (Watson, 2007) , and a redesigned “Predator” Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to make food and water drops for those in need (Barber, 2004). Within the general activist community, non-violent and constructive uses of technology are growing, showing that hacktions are not solely the creation or use of software. The specialized knowledge needed to manipulate more sophisticated technology like GPS systems is akin to the programming savvy that the earlier hacktivists possessed. Even though only a handful of people are capable of the creation process of hacktivist technology, the power of these hacktions grows exponentially when shared with like-minded users. Small groups can easily effect big change, but larger groups can potential effect tremendous change. Thus, when

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technology is repurposed to provide humanistic services in a constructive and visible manner, every person that gets involved, from the creators to the users, becomes a hacktivist. Conclusion Identifying with the ideological motivation of non-violence was a key factor for US Civil Rights protesters in the 1950s,"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored" (King, 1963). The rejection of violence and destruction in the Civil Rights Movement not only changed the way we interpreted acts of protest but influenced the we talked about it as well. In not fearing the Civil Rights Movement, we were encouraged to learn more about it. Similarly, while some hacktivities may be disruptive or questionable, hacktivism has promoted itself as a nonviolent and accessible way for citizens to protest violations of our freedoms of information, as well as a wide variety of human rights injustices. In the years to come, hacktivism has to overcome being perceived as a confrontational, hostile and malicious form of computer hacking. The gravitation of activist movements to technological, online and software resources suggests is quickly becoming the norm, and it is important that we properly recognize what the hacktivist movement represents and acknowledge how it has helped define acceptable and unacceptable protest practices in cyberspace. In order to differentiate between acts of hacktivism or cyber-terrorism, we need to do more than just look at politicized motivations, but to assess whether or not the tactical means reflect an intentional breach of non-violent principles. Otherwise, we will be denying the possibility of having legal and democratic ways of expressing dissent in cyberspace. According to Cameron, citizens have a, “Right to protest in cyberspace without fear, limited only by proven intent to commit a criminal or terrorist act as defined by a legitimate law of the country of citizenship or international law” (2006, p. 166).

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