Friday, July 01, 2011

Hackers Are Being Radicalised by Government Policy

Loz Kaye writes on the

Now that the LulzSec boat has sailed over the horizon, it seems a good moment to take stock of the past weeks' "hacktivism" frenzy. We've been bombarded with images of oddballs lurking in murky chatrooms – geeky teenagers who are simultaneously global cyber-villains. Given the reporting, we'd be forgiven for thinking that it's all about the personal obsessions of a few nerds. This would be to ignore the wider context.

LulzSec wasn't an isolated or unique phenomenon. People with passionate beliefs have been using new technological tools to effect change out of a sense of powerlessness. In the last year, I've watched 38 Degrees using the strength of association online to change government policy, WikiLeaks force transparency on those who'd rather run from it, even the amorphous mass that is Anonymous taking a stand on whatever issue they feel deserves their attention.

These tools are now themselves under attack. Lord Mandelson's last gift to us, the Digital Economy Act, is just one of a raft of "three strikes laws" worldwide that threaten to cut off households from the web. Buried in the coalition's Prevent strategy is the assertion that "internet filtering across the public estate is essential". Nor is it solely a British issue; Nicolas Sarkozy called for global online governance at the eG8 in his attempt to civilise the "wild west" of the web.

We're starting to see what this civilising process entails. Open Rights Group revealed that Ed Vaizey and lobbyists held a secret meeting discussing the future of web blocking powers. There was no public oversight and no one asked the net natives. Vaizey has relented a little via Twitter, consenting to open up the discussion – the Pirate Party and I welcome that invitation. It will take more, however, than getting a few NGOs around a table to ease the real sense of anger poisoning the online community.

More here.


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