Hacktivism is defined as the use of illegal digital tools in pursuit of political ends. In other words – as is evident by the word itself – it is hacking computers and computer networks for activism purposes. The term was first coined in 1996 by a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective named Omega. Hacktivists claim that the proper use of technology can lead to the same, if not more effective, results like those of protests, civil disobedience and activism.
Some of the motives of hacktivists include freedom of speech, people’s right to information, human rights, information ethics and uproar to government surveillance. The most notorious hacktivist group of recent times, Anonymous, was a huge supporter of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. They fought against governments and corporations, such as Bank of America, PayPal and Amazon, for people’s right to know. Another famous movement, Occupy Wall Street, in collaboration with Free Network Corporation, used technology to provide people with free internet, defending the belief that internet is people’s natural right.
Hacktivist use many methods and various software tools. Hacking into government/personal accounts to steal and out private information is the most notorious, controversial and – at times – harmful method, but it is not the only one. Hacktivists also deface websites, use Ddos attacks to make websites (usually of corporations) unreachable, use website mirroring to allow people to visit censored websites etc. Usually hacktivist actions – also called haction – have a political motivation, reflect a sense of humor and bring abrupt, but not permanent, change. They usually work anonymously and either by themselves or in small groups.
The word “hacking” has many negative attributes: crime, cyberterrorist, stealing identities and more. So when people hear the word “hacktivist”, they also associate it with the similar, negative ideas. I think this is rather unfair, because some hacktivists are trying to bring positive social change to the world. I am a big supporter of freedom of speech, freedom of press and people’s right for information; and being familiar with the actions of some of these organizations, such as Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, I truly believe their actions are for the good of the people. It’s true that the legality of hacktivism is questionable at times, but at the end of the day, the big ideas they’re trying to protect are worth fighting for. The controversy around hacktivism reminds me of the quote: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”
We Are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2177843/?ref_=sr_1)