Hackers Finally Get Political: But Who Will Follow WikiLeaks and Anonymous Into the Fray

From Infoshop News: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2010121021511296

Friday, December 10 2010 @ 09:51 PM UTC

Contributed by: Anonymous

After years of seeing some of the best and brightest hackers sell out to corporate or government power for some money and no jail time, are we now seeing the politicization of hacker subculture.

To understand Anonymous or 4chan, indeed, to understand Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, one must understand the politics of hacking.

To an extent, the hacker subculture has always had its own set of politics, though users come from various ideological and technological backgrounds. Primacy, however, is placed on the politics of free information, of pushing information beyond control. It began with software limitations and a desire to explore the invisible maps beyond the boundaries of analogue and digital information. And if we are to trace the origins, we must begin at MIT.

At MIT there were two sources that led to hacking: the Tech Model Railroad Club and the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The interaction of various students at MIT eventually led to the free software movement, which has at its core the declaration “Information wants to be free.”

Many of these students disliked authority, mostly because access to computers in the mid 20th century was usually reserved for use by those higher up in the MIT pecking order–some of whom had ties to government. Hacking was in essence an anti-authoritarian prank with origins in the MIT student prank culture.

Thus from the very beginning, hackers were political animals. They were for the democratic spread of information and software without limitation, the DIY attitude of computing and programming, and this would over time put them at odds with power structures. Why? Well, for one, a good thing like software mustn’t be free when it is so powerful: people must pay for access to the information. And hackers also had a unique talent for striking blows against power by revealing its artifice.

But, there never has been a groundswell of anti-authoritarian hacking as one might have imagined, perhaps because of the disparate aims of those with the particular talent. Sure, there has been the occasional hacker with a political agenda, such as Jim Bell, but there haven’t been a hacktivists on the order of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. They took the hacker ethos of ‘information wants to be free’ (which, admit it, should be the operating principle of a transparent democracy) and shifted it into the sphere of publishing.

Continue reading at:  http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2010121021511296

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/spam-downloads-surge-wikileaks-supporters/

WikiLeaks supporters download ‘Low Orbit Ion Cannon’ software en masse

By The Associated Press
Friday, December 10th, 2010 — 12:59 pm

Security experts see surge in downloads of spam used to attack sites hostile to WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks supporters on Friday downloaded increasing amounts of the spam-shooting software used to attack companies seen as hostile — a development that could challenge even Internet giants such as PayPal and Amazon.com during the crucial Christmas shopping season.

<snip>

Users who download the software essentially volunteer their computers to be used as weapons that volley streams of electronic spam at targeted websites. The more computers, the greater the flow of data requests, and the better chances are of overwhelming the targeted website.

The cyberguerillas, who gather under the name Anonymous, have generally been successful in foiling their enemies. Attacks directed at the main pages of Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. succeeded in making them inaccessible, in MasterCard’s case for several hours. Attacks on online payment company PayPal Inc. have periodically rendered part of its website inoperative. Moneybookers.com, another targeted site, was inaccessible Friday.

All four sites have severed their links to WikiLeaks, often citing suspected “terms of use” violations, hurting the group’s ability to accept donations. The moves angered WikiLeaks supporters and alarmed free speech advocates, whom claim the companies are caving in to U.S. pressure to muzzle the controversial website.

Complete article at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/spam-downloads-surge-wikileaks-supporters/

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