hacking is not the same as censoring

From xdaydreamx@gmx.net
Date Tue, 7 Sep 1999 01:04:07 +0200 (MEST)

[: hacktivism :]

[Note: I apologise for the length of this posting. I have 
been away for a while and was joyously surprised that 
Parsifal played the "agent provcateur" and kick-started 
a nice little debate...]

Dear Parsifal,

imagine two people having a discussion. One of them makes 
a ridiculous statement. The other has no intention of 
gagging him but every intention of proving him wrong. 
So she interjects. She stops him in mid sentence and says 
"What you are saying is wrong because...". After she has 
finished speaking she will let him talk again. 

>A campaign poster is showed in public places : streets.
>A web site is a private property.
>To replace its home page, you have to break into this digital >property, 
>like a burglar.

A campaign poster is owned by someone and is thus "private 
A web site is shown in a public place: the Internet.
To replace a homepage is giving a response to a _public_ 
statement. Give, it is a very extreme way of responding.

Internet websites are very much means of broadcasting 
one's opinion. But most sites are not interested in any 
form of dialogue. They preach THEIR view. Others may 
have a different view but to find it one has to got to 
a completely different website. Now it may not be the 
best of manners to "interrupt" somebody in such a way
 (hacking their site) but often it is the best way of 
bringing about discussion. Hackers may have the means 
to hack a site but most of them do not have the means, 
time and inclination to do so permanently. THIS would 
constitute censorship. But a site that has been up 
for years being hacked for some 24 hours - is that 
censorship? I don't think so, especially because the 
site is most often not simply "downed" but a message 
relating to its activities is placed. People are still 
able to access the site but now they get a whole 
different story. The next day they will get their old 
site back. Good. Free Speech back on air.
But the hack will have left its mark. 
This is not a question of freedom of speech. It is a 
question of bringing about dialogue.

>You cannot pretend to talk directly at someone if he is not able to 
>answer you using the same means. 

Yes you can. I suggest sites which have been hacked 
go into the offensive. Post their response to the hack 
on their page the next day; issue a press release. THAT 
will let people make up their mind. As you yourself 
said, Parsival,

>For example, i had no knowledge of the existence of the godhatesfags 
>site...until some hackers promote it brilliantly.

And I guess you would disagree with such a site. Does it 
seem worthwile to you to have found out that a site such 
as godhatesfags.com exists or would you rather have remained 
blissfully ignorant?

>If you don't like my ideas, you just don't connect to my site...and 
>that's all.

But where would _that_ lead us?! Websites have become a part of our 
lives. They affect us, whether we log onto them or not.  

I agree very much with what Lawrence says. As for his 

> ... is it an absolute (hence stifling and 
>possibly censorious) measure? [hacking]

No. It seems that Parsifal's view is very close to 
saying we should _ignore_ those we disagree with. But 
where does that leave activism? If there is any criticism that 
can be levelled at hacktivism it is that it is often being done 
so badly that the whole exercise is pointless.

>I would [want to limit counterdemonstration]. 

>Don't you understand that when you fight against something, you >promote 
>it ?

>(Isn't it romantic, and self-valorizing to fight against the Empire >and 
>the Devil .?)

>As long as you fight, you loose,

I believe that should correctly be: As long as you don't fight, you don't 

>Do you consider the whole Internet as your platform, to deny a site >to 
>exist on it ?

Let me say again, Parsifal: Hacking is not automatically censorship. 
Hacktivists are not denying a sites existence. In fact, it is much more
useful for the cause of, say the EZLN, that the Mexican government has a
website. This at least allows the world to take note of their hypocrisy.

There is one point I agree with Parsifal on though:

>What is terrible is that governments use hackers in order to pass >ever 
>more repressive laws.

But this is not solely the fault of hackers. Do hacktivists have to
conform to the world the media and the governments would like to have? What kind
of hacktivists would they/we be? Activists always fight on two fronts:
Against the group they oppose and at the same time for understanding from the
public. Good activists won't forget that they have to explain themselves. I
believe that if they do that they will be properly understood.

Finally, let me echo Lawrence's words:
>Anyway, I see the First Ammendment as contingent to the
>specific history and politics of the United States, rather than a >total
>universalistic principle.  I do not wish to carry this any further, >so
>Parsifal, you can have your last say and we can leave the bandwidth >to
>more useful (but equally important) things.


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