hacktivism idea

From Aaron Kreider <aaron.kreider.1@nd.edu>
Date Thu, 20 Jul 2000 20:36:36 -0500

[: hacktivism :]

How about creating computer programs that will fight advertizing on the
internet?  You could target advertizing in general (like the programs that
turn pop-up ads into blanks) as a protest against capitalism and/or
consumerism, or you could target specific companies.  For instance if you
knew a certain company bought a keyword on a search engine, or a banner ad
at a certain site - then you can write a program that will automatically
reload the site and cost them a significant amount of money.

Would this be legal?  How much economic damage could one do?

I'm trying to remember prices... but I think buying a keyword at a search
engine can cost up to ten cents...  I guess you'd have to be pretty lucky
to get more than 10 hits/second, so at most you could do $60/hour.  I'd
guess the range would be between $1-$30/hour (0.5 to 5 hits/second, 3.33
cents - 10 cents/keyword) or $24-$720/day.  The downside would be that a
company could filter out your IP address, but if enough people do it, it
should at least get you some press coverage.  The other downside is that
your corporate target has to advertize on the internet (however this is
less a "problem" as more internet advertizing grows 100% a year).

I think targeting one corporation would be much more effective.  If you
tried to get rid of Yahoo or another commercialized search engine (because
they use advertizing) you'd make a lot of people really mad, and it'd also
be too big of a target.  

To target one corporation, you'd simply have to test out a couple search
engines (or sites with banner ads), until you found their ads.  To stay
legal, to avoid the action getting shutdown, and to maximize the economic
damage, you might want to make sure your website that you're reloading has
enough capacity so that you don't cause Denial of Service.  One tricky
thing is avoiding hurting non-targetted companies.  For instance at MSN if
you do a search you get ads for multiple companies. 

If people think this would work, it'd be great if someone would write a
program to do it.  Unfortunately, I lack the technical know-how.  What do
you think of the idea???

One possible target is the Republican National Committee (target them
during the convention in solidarity with the other protests) -- which I
believe has paid for a "Internet Keyword" republican") at www.msn.com, it
points to www.rnc.org.  I think all of the "featured sites" at www.msn.com
are paid for by advertizing


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