Which Side Are You On

Re: Phrack.org article: Lines in the Sand: Which Side Are You On in the Hack

I think that ‘Us-vs-Them’ reasoning is really common in hacker’s online and offline publications. There’s a lot of big ideas and vague expectations so I hope it’s not too hard to choose something to be skeptical about in this article.

A lot has come out in the media this past year about _all_ (not just the select few who make the news) of US congress is subject to financial corruption– Lessig and This American Life go into detail. Anonymous has gone after law enforcement (LE) and when they do, I can’t help but feel they’re motivations are misplaced. When LE perform anti-constitutional acts (spying, protestor abuse, etc), to me, they are mostly a symptom to a very complex problem. Why is this issue reduced to “Hackers” vs. “.Gov and .Mil”? It’s way too simplistic for my liking.

Jacob Appelbaum often makes fun of LE by saying things like, “99% of them make the rest look bad.” Retrospectively, why wouldn’t society (not just egocentric hackers) want more socially-sensitive, honest, and intelligent people working for publicly funded institutions? Intellectual challenges exist in many forms and even more that are unformed. Anyone can log on and become Anonymous. It would not surprise me at all if LE agents, on the side, help hack dictator regimes in foreign countries for the lulz and the obvious morally valid execution of activism. I don’t know everything that the author of this particular article is thinking, or if s/he has ever been in a real fight, but usually, attacking someone doesn’t change their mind about the root issues. And with all due respect, changing the mind of your adversary is the objective here (think: making a friend of your enemy as many great martial artists would teach), even if it’s more complex, more difficult to understand, and harder to change.

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