Sociology Index

Hacktivism

Electronic Civil Disobedience, Computerized Activism

The term Hacktivism was coined in 1994 by a Cult of the Dead Cow member known as "Omega." Hacktivism is a open-source phenomenon. Hacking plus activism makes hacktivism. Hacktivism is hacking for a political cause. Hacktivism, according to information security researcher Dorothy Denning, is "the marriage of hacking and activism." Acts of hacktivism generally obstruct normal computer activity in some way. According to the New Hacker's Dictionary, a hacker is "a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities" and one who is capable of "creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations". Definitions of Hacktivism include acts of cyberterrorism and technological hacking to bring about social change.

Aaron Hillel Swartz was highly regarded as an American computer programmer Hacktivist. Hacktivism or hactivism is the subversive use of computer networks to promote social change. Hacktivism is about hacker culture and hacker ethics, and it furthers free speech and freedom of information movements.
Hacktivism is the use of one's ingenuity to circumvent limitations, to hack clever solutions to complex problems using computer and Internet technology. "Hacker" was originally a term that encapsulated an individual's understanding of computer systems and networks and the ability to modify and refine such systems.

The GNU/Linux operating system evolved from this hacker ethic. As fellow hackers from the MIT AI lab were lured into commercial ventures Richard Stallman became increasingly concerned about the decay of the hacker community and the increasing control being exerted over proprietary code. Stallman decided to create a free operating system modeled after the proprietary UNIX system.
Linus Torvalds began development on a kernel and released the initial source code for his kernel, named Linux. Together the work of Stallman and Linus form the GNU/Linux operating system. This software is released under the General Public License (GPL), which is known as "copyleft" as opposed to copyright. The GPL allows users to modify and copy the software as long as they make the source freely available to others.