Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Your Rights Online

Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime? 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the little-of-column-A-and-a-little-of-column-B dept.
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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime?

Comments Filter:
  • by alen (225700) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:30PM (#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.

  • by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:31PM (#42628113) Homepage

    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?

  • by tokencode (1952944) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:31PM (#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.
  • False Dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Palestrina (715471) * on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:35PM (#42628159) Homepage

    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.

  • Exclusive? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:35PM (#42628165)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:36PM (#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.

  • It depends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hrrrg (565259) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:40PM (#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.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:40PM (#42628225) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:02PM (#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.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:04PM (#42628523) Journal

    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?

  • by Golddess (1361003) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:20PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:26PM (#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.

  • Civil Disobedience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:35PM (#42628845) Homepage

    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?

  • by Americano (920576) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:38PM (#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.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:41PM (#42628915) Journal

    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.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:47PM (#42628979) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:10PM (#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.

  • by Bureaucromancer (1303477) on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:12PM (#42629245)
    Moreover, by definition Civil Disobedience involves breaking the law.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:28PM (#42629369) Journal

    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.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:55PM (#42629609)

    How would you even write a law to make such practice illegal?

    Easy. It's called "trespass". It's already a law.

    I would go to great lengths to not provoke someone into or motivate someone to organizing such an attack.

    In other words, the only people who have the right to free speech are those who say things you agree with. Otherwise, you'll organize a mob to come stop them from earning a living doing something completely unrelated to whatever opinion it is you don't like.

  • by Garridan (597129) on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:58PM (#42629653)
    From wikipedia: "Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power." So yeah, spousal abuse could be seen to be civil disobedience if the KKK member in question was flagrant about it. Bottom line is, civil disobedience means breaking the law. Not every cause is just, and a court's job is to uphold the law -- the people who go to jail might just stay there.
  • by Pseudonym (62607) on Friday January 18, 2013 @05:07PM (#42629721)

    This is one of the key things which distinguishes MLK, Gandhi, Occupy and everyone else who has participated in civil disobedience from piracy.

    A key part of civil disobedience is that you actually take the rap for the law you're breaking. You dare the authorities to arrest you, giving them a choice to enforce an unjust because in doing so, they have to make a choice between enforcing an unjust law or not.

    Piracy is more like everyone (I'd wager there are a few people here) who broke those so-called "sodomy laws", which existed until about ten years ago in the US. Some states, you may recall, actually outlawed certain non-exploitative sex acts between consenting adults carried out in private. (If you're not familiar with the phrase "sodomy law", don't be fooled; some of them outlawed acts which, if you have ever had sex, you have probably done.) In that case, most people who thought about it believed that the most appropriate response to the bad laws is to ignore them.

    Not that I'm advocating this, mind. But there are many pirates who honestly believe that current copyright law is unjust, and rather than stand up, be counted, and take the rap, they choose to just ignore the law in private.

    Anonymous occupies an interesting point between the two.

  • by estestvoispytatel (1091583) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @09:29AM (#42633453)
    It's more complicated — those who practice civil disobedience are actually appealing to the higher instance: the social contract. If the state is not willing to walk along their part of the contract, citizens can proclaim yourself free from the law as well.

Truth is free, but information costs.

Working...