Hacktivism: Information (over)governance and state protection   no comments

Posted at 10:42 am in Uncategorized

Although my initial plan was to research solely e-mail hacking from a political perspective, and it appears that there a number of different cases on politics and e-mail hacking, Mitt Romney and Neil Stock, I believe it would be beneficial to open the subject out slightly to communications hacking (again). This allows me to review more cases in a wider areas of hacking channels and head towards an analysis of the political intent for communications hacking, rather than focusing on the specifics of the e-mail hacking cases.

After continuing my research it appears that there is a political sector dedicated to hacking of communications. This is called hacktivism. This word is a portmanteau of two words; hack: “the process of reconfiguring or reprogramming a system to do things that its inventor never intended” (BBC News, 2010) and Activist: an individual who is involved with achieving political goals. Hacktivism appears as a means for political personnel to seek retribution using computers and/or technological devices as a vehicle to perform such actions. This insinuates that hacktivism is an action that is surrounded by negative connotations involved with ‘damaging the opposition’.

However, a BBC News Story entitled: Activists turn ‘hacktivists’ on the web (BBC News, 2010, link) notes how a hacktivist body such as the Chaos Computer Club is not intent on causing chaos amongst their opposition or in society, they are an organisation that is built for defining and analysing ‘holes’ in security systems on the web to maintain an optimal level of security for such systems involved with government, national security and emergency services. This helps to protect the identity and reputation of the state, and its political counterparts, but potentially bias the system against a democracy and an ideology of the freedom of information.

Other hacktivist groups such as Anonymous and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) have an alternative ideology in which they ‘fight’ for. These groups push for the freedom of information against the ‘corporate blockades’ (Ball, 2012) on the web, which are said to blind the population, of any given nation, from seeing the truths about our political leaders and their encompassing political parties. It is believed that, as we are going from a restriction of information to an abundance, society should reserve the right to view information concerning those that govern our lives.

Although it is a valid point to seek truths about our ‘leaders’, one may argue that the freedom of information is a subject that would be fraught with corruption and abuse, especially in a political sense. Information that is to be available to all citizens, including those that counter our political systems and ideologies, may be vulnerable to attacks.

In light of this, a debate around hacktivism is due for establishment in my next blog about political parties and communications hacking.

Written by Gareth Beeston on October 29th, 2012

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