Sociology Index

Electronic Civil Disobedience

The terms Electronic Civil Disobedience, Computerized Activism and Hacktivism date back to the end of last millenium. Electronic civil disobedience or digital resistance makes use of Internet to protest. Electronic civil disobedience is civil disobedience in which protesters use information technology to carry out their protests. cyber civil disobedience is also referred to as electronic civil disobedience. In 1998, a young British hacker known as "JF" accessed about 300 web sites and placed anti-nuclear text and imagery. He entered, changed and added HTML code. Electronic civil disobedience, Computerized Activism and Hacktivism are other options for digital resistance. Electronic Civil Disobedience utilizes virtual blockades and virtual sit-ins.

Unlike the participant in a traditional civil disobedience action, an Electronic Civil Disobedience actor can participate in virtual blockades and sit-ins from home, from the university, or from any other points of access to the Net. A common form of electronic civil disobedience is coordination a denial-of-service attack is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a network resource unavailable to its intended users against a specific target. Such virtual sit-ins may be announced on the internet by hacktivist groups like the Electronic Disturbance Theatre.

We may consider both the more symbolic electronic civil disobedience actions and the more tangible hacktivist events as Net politics in social movement. In the tradition of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, proponents of Electronic Civil Disobedience are borrowing the tactics of trespass and blockade.

In 1998, Ricardo Dominguez wrote an essay entitled “The Ante-Chamber of Revolution” that imagined Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD) as performed by Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT). A Net based affinity group called the Electronic Disturbance Theater pushed and agitated for new experimentation with electronic civil disobedience actions aimed mostly at the Mexican government.

On electronic civil disobedience - Stefan Wray.

Abstract: Civil disobedience has been part of the American political experience since the country began. Today, as we enter the next century, we are faced with the possibility and reality of a new, hybrid form of civil disobedience known as electronic civil disobedience. It is important to explore these new forms of civil disobedience in the context of more traditional actions. We have only begun to realize the full potential of how computers will change political activism.

Electronic Civil Disobedience and the World Wide Web of Hacktivism - Stefan Wray.

A Mapping of Extraparliamentarian Direct Action Net Politics.
What this paper attempts to do is examine these emerging trends from a slightly wider angled lens. This paper puts forth five portals for consideration: computerized activism, grassroots infowar, electronic civil disobedience, politicized hacking, and resistance to future war.

Meikle G (2008) Electronic Civil Disobedience and Symbolic Power. In: Karatzogianni A (ed.). Cyber-conflict and Global Politics. Contemporary Security Studies, London: Routledge.

Stefan Wray, "On Electronic Civil Disobedience," Peace Review 11, no. 1, (1999), forthcoming; Electronic Civil Disobedience archive 1998.

Stefan Wray, "Paris Salon or Boston Tea Party? Recasting Electronic Democracy, A View from Amsterdam," Electronic Civil Disobedience archive 1998.

Stefan Wray, "Towards Bottom-Up Information Warfare: Theory and Practice: Version 1.0," Electronic Civil Disobedience Archive 1998 12. Stefan Wray, "The Drug War and Information Warfare in Mexico," Masters Thesis, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Electronic Civil Disobedience Archive 1997. 

Brett Stalbaum, "The Zapatista Tactical FloodNet," Electronic Civil Disobedience Web Page 1998.

"Mexico rebel supporters hack government home page," Reuters, 4 February 1998; Same in Electronic Civil Disobedience.