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Anonymous is one of the groups that can be seen as participating in this form of hacktivism, as is Wikileaks.
Wikileaks is probably the best know hactivist site to the general public because of the sheer volume of political information that it has made public and because of the unapologetic nature of the owner of the site. This is unfortunate in many ways because it has given individuals a false view of what hacktivism is because Julian Assange seems to have been motivated more often by pique than by genuine political concerns for making the world a better place. This is not, as one might guess, how the Wikileaks founder sees the nature of his mission.
Wikileaks, like Anonymous, is based on the idea that information -- all information -- should be available to everyone. This is a radical claim, and indeed resembles radical claims made by groups in the 1960s and 1970s, with the difference being that current radicals have the power to make good on their promises of crashing the system. Wikileaks has taken an extreme position in a world in which governments have often taken extreme positions to justify hiding information from their citizens in the name of national security.
Assange and Wikileaks do not take advantage of the essential advantages of the internet, treating it more like a mimeograph machine:
[T]he many-to-many and one-to-many characteristics of the Internet multiply manifold the access points for publicity and information in the political system. The global dimension of the Web facilitates transnational movements transcending the boundaries of the nationstate. The linkage capacity strengthens alliances and coalitions. Moreover…the values that pervade many transnational advocacy networks….seem highly conducive to the irreverent, egalitarian, and libertarian character of the cyber-culture.(Norris, 2001)
Wikileaks lacks the irreverent quality of most hacktivism, which includes, along with its usually serious intent, a sense of play.
While it is certainly true that governments often plead "national security" when they simply do not want to release information, it is also arguably true that some (even only a very small) amount of information should remain secret. There are, in fact, real issues of national security: Posting the nuclear launch codes seems a bad idea even to most people who argue for making the activities of governments and corporations as transparent as possible. This promotion of what is essentially old-fashioned anarchism (such as practiced by the Badder-Meinhoff gang) troubles many in the online world.
Wikileaks has made a practice of leaking information that even many advocates of libertarian concepts of free speech consider to be better kept secret. Moreover, and this may well be what has bothered other hactivists more, Wikileaks has released a large amount of personal, putatively private material. Other hacktivists have objected to this not on the grounds that personal information should stay private once it is put online but rather that it is petty and reduces hacktivism to simple hacking.
The website attacks launched by supporters of WikiLeaks show 21st-century cyber warfare evolving into a more amateur and anarchic affair than many predicted.
While most countries have plowed much more attention and resources into cyber security in recent years, most of the debate has focused on the threat from militant groups such as al Qaeda or mainstream state on state conflict.
But attempts to silence WikiLeaks after the leaking of some 250,000 classified State Department cables seem to have produced something rather different -- something of a popular rebellion amongst hundreds or thousands of tech-savvy activists. (Analysis Wikileaks, 2010).
Our world in the twenty-first century has grown increasingly unequal to the point that the distance between the haves and the have-nots seems impossible to bridge. The haves may view this as their due; the have-nots are much more likely to see this division of wealth as terrible and unbearable. People in industrialized countries fear that the generations that will come after them will see an increasingly limited and impoverished life.
Hacktivism allows some people powerful tools to attack those who have power in every other aspect of society. Even more satisfying, not just for hacktivists but for many members of the 99%, is that hacktivism uses the tools of the establishment itself to bring down the rich and the powerful. This desire to see the mighty humbled has always existed. It is only that the peasants have put down their rocks and picked up their iPads.
"Analysis: WikiLeaks -- a new face of cyber-war?" Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/12/09/us-wikileaks-cyberwarfare-amateur-idUSTRE6B81K520101209. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
The Atlantic Wire. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/07/did-lulzsec-trick-police-arresting-wrong-guy/40522/. Retrieved 10 Mary 2012.
Castells, Manuel. The Internet galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, business, and society. Oxford: Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001.
Old-time hacktivists: Anonymous, you've crossed the line. CNET News March 30, 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
Ruffin, Oxblood (3 June 2004). "Hacktivism, From Here to There." http://www.cultdeadcow.com/cDc_files/cDc-0384.php. Retrieved 9 may 2012.
Samuel, Alexandra. (2004). Hacktivism and the Future of Political Participation. http://www.alexandrasamuel.com/dissertation/pdfs/Samuel-Hacktivism-chapter1.pdf.…[continue]
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