Sociology Index

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Hacktivism

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. The term Hacktivism can also be used to mean activism that is malicious, destructive, and undermining the security of the Internet as a technical, economic, and political platform. Politically motivated hacking operations or hacktivism intended to cause grave harm is called cyberterrrorism. Acts of hacktivism generally obstruct normal computer activity in some way. Examples of Hacktivism include acts of cyberterrorism and technological hacking to bring about social change. Hactivism is also attributed to Cult of the Dead Cow member Omega. Cult of the Dead Cow is a computer hacker and DIY media organization founded in 1984 in Lubbock, Texas. Hactivism is often seen as shadowy due to its anonymity, commonly attributed to the work of fringe groups and outlying members of society. - Sorell, Tom (2015-09-22). "Human Rights and Hacktivism: The Cases of Wikileaks and Anonymous". Journal of Human Rights Practice. 7 (3): 391–410.

Ethical hacktivism is used to penetrate and test systems for security-improvement purposes only, while hacktivism could mean using computers to bring about social or political change. Other new terms include Electronic Civil Disobedience, Computerized Activism. Like any technology, “hacking” and Hacktivism can be used for positive or negative purposes. Aaron Hillel Swartz was highly regarded as an American computer programmer Hacktivist.

Some hacktivism springs from a hacker tradition of extreme irreverence and theatricality. Much of that irreverence started out by being apolitical, and it was once confined to an online hinterland (Bartlett 2014). In its current forms, however, hacktivism has entered mainstream social media, such as Twitter, and, as we shall see, it has targeted the websites of organizations as varied as the Church of Scientology and the US Department of Defense.

Hacktivism or hactivism is the use of technology to promote a political agenda or a social change. Hacktivism 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.

The hacker culture is A subculture of hacker culture, hacktivism involves individuals who enjoy the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming limitations of software systems to achieve intended outcomes. The hacker culture emerged in academia in the 1960s around the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Tech Model Railroad Club and MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Some famous acts of hacktivism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were placing of a campus police cruiser on the roof of the Great Dome and converting the Great Dome into R2-D2.

"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 word Hacktivism was coined to refer to electronic direct action for social change by combining programming skills with critical thinking. But hacktivism is also being used to refer to activism that is malicious, undermining the security of the Internet as a technical, economic, and political platform.

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, which is known as Copyleft, and also Copyleft all wrongs reserved, 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.

Human Rights and Hacktivism: The Cases of Wikileaks and Anonymous - Tom Sorell, Journal of Human Rights Practice, Volume 7, Issue 3, November 2015, Pages 391–410.
Abstract: Traditional human rights concepts are strained when Internet activity takes the unconventional form of ‘hacktivism’, and it occurs in human-rights respecting jurisdictions. Hacktivism is still activism but not always open or democratic activism. Hacktivism can often be anonymous, sometimes gratuitously so, and can operate with a kind of impunity that its technology seems to afford. Hacktivism is sometimes also claimed to serve interests that transcend those of particular states, that is, the interests of the global population generally. But this claim is implausible if hacktivism is not accountable to anyone. Hacktivism is a form of political activism in which computer hacking skills are heavily employed against powerful commercial institutions and governments, among other targets. Hacktivism is not always open or democratic—even when it is practised in jurisdictions with strong democratic traditions. When hacktivism is directed against institutions that might also be the target of conventional political opposition, it need not be backed by consensus-building. The agents of hacktivism can espouse crude, and sometimes extreme, libertarian ideas: ideas without much of a following among voters in most democratic countries.

Dorothy E. Denning, "Activism, Hacktivism, and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a Tool for Influencing Foreign Policy", Special Reports, December 31, 2001.
The paper is organized around three broad classes of activity: activism, hacktivism, and cyberterrorism. The first category, activism, refers to normal, non-disruptive use of the Internet in support of an agenda or cause. The second category, hacktivism, refers to the marriage of hacking and activism. It covers operations that use hacking techniques against a target=s Internet site with the intent of disrupting normal operations but not causing serious damage. Examples are Web sit-ins and virtual blockades, automated e-mail bombs, Web hacks, computer break-ins, and computer viruses and worms. The final category, cyberterrorism, refers to the convergence of cyberspace and terrorism. It covers politically motivated hacking operations intended to cause grave harm such as loss of life or severe economic damage.