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Topics Homepage> Computer hacktivism does more good than harm

Computer hacktivism does more good than harm

PRO (6 assertions)


Hacktivism: a policy of hacking or creating technology to nonviolently achieve a political or social goal

Remember: Some of the Opposition’s evidence is not necessarily “hacktivism”; There must be a political or social message; if not, it’s just “cyber terrorism”


A Reference:

Comparing hacktivism to physical protests and activism

When comparing hacktivism to protests on the streets, hacktivism is infinitely better. Hacktivism is a way for people to protest online, non-violently… while learning about computers. Whereas in protests, you have hordes of people destroying things, littering on the street, fighting the police force, and occasionally even shooting each other, hacktivism is much more peaceful and no one dies.

1. Assertion: Computer hacktivism can benefit society

Reasoning: Hacktivism is simply a way of sending a nonviolent message to people through the Internet. Certain hacktivism groups can help the public by using their skills to send such a message.

Evidence: In this past October, Hacktivism group Anonymous infiltrated and knocked some 40 child pornography Web sites offline. The group also said it published the names of visitors to one of the sites. The list, Anonymous said, is fair game for authorities to use in cases against illegal child pornography sites and their visitors.

"If the FBI, Interpol, or other law enforcement agency should happen to come across this list, please use it to investigate and bring justice to the people listed here," the group said.

Source: The Daily Mail (UK Newspaper), Simply Security (online news)

2. Assertion: Hacktivism encourages the need for government transparency

Reasoning: Governments do not have the right to hide secrets from their people. Some acts of hacktivism encourage governments to release the truth to the public. In every single situation, having a government tell the truth to the people is good, as it aids government transparency and prevents secrecy.

Evidence: A website called Wikileaks is widely known around the world for its ability to expose government secrets. Using hacktivists, Wikileaks is able to tap into hidden confidential government information and expose the truth to the public. WikiLeaks posted its first document in December 2006, a decision to assassinate government officials signed by an infamous Somalian terrorist (Shekh Hassan Dahir Aweys). In August 2007, The Guardian published a story about corruption by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel Moi based on information provided via WikiLeaks. In February 2008, WikiLeaks released allegations of illegal activities at the Cayman Islands branch of the Swiss Bank Julius Baer. As you can see, not only does Wikileaks expose the secrets hidden by major business corporations and governments, but it also reveals their illegal actions. Hacktivism helps transparency as well as expose lies or illegal actions.

Sources: The New Yorker, The Australian, The New York Times

3. Assertion: 1. Do you think that hacktivism and hacking will force governments to increase their security and make their online security systems better?

Reasoning: Hacktivism is simply activism over the Internet. It’s just protesting of the future. Rather than go out on the streets with hand-made signs like older times, people can simply protest over the Internet. Plus, hacktivism is the better alternative, as it is more efficient, quicker, can reach a lot more people through the internet, and doesn’t turn into violence as the Occupy Oakland protests have.

Evidence: In the 1990s, with the growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web, came denial of service attacks to protest a wide variety of causes such as Mexico's treatment of Zapatistas, French nuclear testing and wide-ranging computer attacks between Israeli and Palestinian supporters during the second Intifada.

Hacktivism has been developing since the dawn of computers. It came with our technological advances. Just as our technology brings us closer to a more developed future, so does the concept of hacktivism.

4. Assertion: Hacktivism is not the problem; the lies they expose are

Reasoning: Hacktivism is not the problem here. Hacktivism is actually the only mountain peak protruding from a cloud of lies and fake propaganda. Hacktivism is 100% honest, doesn’t make up the stuff that it posts, and exposes terrible lies. The stuff that hacktivists does post, however, are the real problem here, and this is the problem that hacktivism is trying to eradicate.

Evidence: Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, said recently about privacy and misdeeds, “If you have something you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”


Assertions #5, 6

CON (5 assertions)


1. Do you think that hacktivism and hacking will force governments to increase their security and make their online security systems better?


1. Assertion: Hacktivism decreases government transparency

Reasoning: Hacktivism increases the need for better government security, to prevent hacktivists from hacking onto their files. If a document is a secret, then a government will go through all means possible to keep it a secret. And because of hacktivists prowling secret and classified files for potential documents to leak, governments are forced to become even more secretive. There would be a decrease in openness and sharing even within the U.S. government. People will spend more time being paranoid, and governments will waste more effort on more elaborate security procedures.


2. Assertion: Hacking into private information is illegal no matter what

Reasoning: Hacktivism is a violation of the right to privacy. Everyone has the right to hide their own information and keep it secretive, away from others. Hacktivism often takes the private information of the people, as shown in the case of Sony, directly violating the right to privacy.

A Metaphor: Hacking and stealing personal information is like someone breaking into your house and stealing your files and credit cards. Judge, “hacktivism” is just a fancy word used to disguise illegal online behavior that would not be tolerated in the real world.

Evidence The idea of a right to privacy was first addressed within a legal context in the United States. Louis Brandeis and another young lawyer, Samuel D. Warren, published an article called 'The Right to Privacy' in the Harvard Law Review in 1890 arguing that the constitution and the common law allowed for the deduction of a general "right to privacy”.

3. Assertion: Hacktivism hurts businesses

Reasoning: Hacktivists can shut down entire networks, servers, and websites of a business. This contributes to an angry people who desperately need the business for personal reasons. This has been evidence in several cases.

Evidence: Caused by the hacktivist group Anonymous, Sony suffered a massive breach in its video game online network that led to the theft of names, addresses and possibly credit card data belonging to 77 million user accounts in what is one of the largest-ever Internet security break-ins. The "illegal and unauthorized person" obtained people's names, addresses, email address, birth dates, usernames, passwords, logins, security questions and more, Sony said on its U.S. PlayStation blog on Tuesday. Alan Paller, research director of the SANS Institute, said the breach may be the largest theft of identity data information on record. "This is a huge data breach," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who estimated Sony generates $500 million in annual revenue from the service. "The bigger issue with Sony is how will the hacker use the info that has been illegally obtained?"

4. Assertion: Hacktivists damage society

Reasoning: Hacktivism can hurt the people and it has a negative impact on them. Whether they receive viruses, spam, or malware, hacktivism is not a beneficial thing, even if it sends some sort of political message.

Evidence: The Dog Wars mobile game for the Android operating system has generated opposition from animal lovers, and someone has done something about it. A malicious app masquerading as a version of the game has been found by Symantec that sends embarrassing text messages from the user’s phone.

“It’s public shaming,” said Kevin Haley, a director of Symantec Security Response. He described the malware, named Android. Dogowar, as “more clever than sophisticated. In the old days they used to put people in the stocks. Now somebody is using an Android app for it.”

Once started, the app sends text messages to numbers in the user’s address book saying, “I take pleasure in hurting small animals, just thought you should know that.” It also sends a text to a number that signs the user up for a text-alert service operated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


Assertions #5