When we think of hacking, we have an instant negative reaction. You’d be forgiven for thinking this, as society deems the word ‘hack’ as bad. However, hacktivism is being carried out as a way to claim back the distributed network. With the digital era continually advancing there is evidence of limited control in the hacking world. The question is whether or not it is being used by the right people.
An example showing both a negative use of hacking and a positive is an article by renowned hactivists, Anonymous that claims ‘Edward Snowden Says One Text Can Hack Smartphones’. The post shows Snowden’s knowledge of the Government’s alleged techniques to spy on citizens. It is evident in this blog that the hacker subculture can be used in different forms- control/ power, anarchism, resistance, playfulness and activism. In Snowden’s case he uses it as a response of political activism vs. Government control/ power.
However, this is not to say that playful forms of hacking don’t have negative responses. This year the world saw the infamous Avid Life Media’s website Ashley Madison, hacked. This resulted in personal account information like e-mail addresses from 32 million of the site’s members being revealed online. These attackers are the whistle-blowers of the public sphere, bringing moral resistance to the forefront. They claimed they had two motivations behind the hacking scandal, first criticizing ‘Ashley Madison’s core mission of arranging affairs between married individuals. Second, they’ve attacked Ashley Madison’s business practices, in particular its requirement that users pay $19 for the privilege of deleting all their data from the site (but, as it turns out, not all data was scrubbed).’
Both these examples are evidence of the power that new technological advancement is threatening censorship and online regulation. When we compare the two forms of hacking what do we see? We see new networking models being developed. Benkler (2011) says these examples force us to ‘ask us how comfortable we are with the actual shape of democratization created by the Internet.’
This is true, hactivists are showing a new form of political resistance. They are contributing to a world where internet censorship could be non-existent. The thought of this world is scary, yet thrilling and the more it exposed the greater the support from the community it will receive.