What Is Hacktivism? 2.0
by metac0m (December 2003) Copyleft © The TheHacktivist.com 2000-2004. All Rights Reversed.
Hacktivism is the fusion of hacking and activism; politics and technology. More specifically, hacktivism is described as hacking for a political cause. In this context, the term hacker is used in reference to its original meaning. As defined in 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". (1) Activism is defined as "a policy of taking direct and militant action to achieve a political or social goal". (2) Therefore, a clinical definition of hacktivism is: Hacktivism: a policy of hacking, phreaking or creating technology to achieve a political or social goal.(3) However, both hacking and activism, and thus hacktivism, are loaded words ripe for a variety of interpretation. Therefore it is preferable not to clinically define hacktivism but rather to describe the spirit of hacktivism. Hacktivism is root. It is the use of one's collective or individual ingenuity to circumvent limitations, to hack clever solutions to complex problems using computer and Internet technology. Hacktivism is a continually evolving and open process; its tactics and methodology are not static. In this sense no one owns hacktivism - it has no prophet, no gospel and no canonized literature. Hacktivism is a rhizomic, open-source phenomenon. In the Beginning... Since hacktivism is a recombinant initiative comprised of two divergent communities (hackers and activists) it is necessary to understand their respective backgrounds in order to analyze this historic merger and to examine its challenges and future capabilities. "Hacker" was originally a term that encapsulated an individual's deep understanding of computer systems and networks and the ability to invent, modify, and refine such systems. It is a recombinant attitude that promotes problem solving and creative instinct for it does not limit one's options to the possible. Hacking thrives in an environment in which information is freely accessible. The hacker ethic formulated by Steven Levy in his 1984 book "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" outlines the hacker tenets: 1. Access to computers should be unlimited and total. 2. All information should be free. 3. Mistrust authority - promote decentralization. 4. Hackers should be judged by their hacking not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position. 5. You create art and beauty on a computer. 6. Computers can change your life for the better. (4) 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.(5) Linus Torvalds began development on a kernel and released the initial source code for his kernel, named Linux.(6) 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.(7) There is now a vibrant global, open source community that thrives based on the free flow, and sharing of information. Hackers abhor censorship. Censorship is often seen as a human rights violation, especially when it is combined with a repressive, governing regime. In addition, hackers mistrust restrictive legislation that encroaches on free access to information and cherished electronic privacy. Thus a natural aversion to repressive governments and predatory, private institutions has developed. In...
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