2010-12-09

Appropriate response

In the past few days there have been repeated instances of Denial of Service attacks against companies that have chosen not to provide their services to WikiLeaks.

There have also been accusations of government(s) being behind similar attacks on WikiLeaks.  In the absence of evidence of the latter I think one should be careful to make that accusation.  There is a much simpler explanation that is far more plausible:  there are people not representing any government that do not like WikiLeaks.

While those who wish to support WikiLeaks may derive some form of satisfaction from instigating, encouraging, or even taking part in these attacks I would wish that they would take the time to think more carefully about what they are doing.  I do not believe that Distributed Denial of Service attacks is an appropriate nor a productive way to resolve disagreements.

First of all, promoting your cause in ways that results in collateral damage on a large scale is fundamentally wrong.  If the majority of people affected by your actions have no part in the wrong you wish to right, you are, by all objective measures, a nuisance and you can legitimately be punished for your actions.  I can understand that it feels good to "stick it to the man", but there are other, better ways to do this than to force yourself upon those who have no part in this.

Second, by committing acts of vandalism that affect innocent bystanders you are providing your opposition with legal and moral ammo.  They can now label you as criminals, risk factors and possibly even apply more frightening labels such as "enemy combatant", which is essentially code for "those for which no laws apply".  This is not how you win.  This is how you get some temporary satisfaction in exchange for losing any and all moral high ground, jeopardizing your credibility, and ultimately: your chances to accomplish anything.

The only way you can win is by taking the moral high road.  If you want corporations to pay for underhanded dealings you do so by ensuring that they are asked hard questions, by digging out the facts and by making sure that those facts are brought to our attention.

This is hard work and most of you are not up for it.  You are up against well-funded PR machines, lobbyists, politicians who would rather not have constituents looking too closely at what they are doing, and an impotent press that is suffering from lack of resources, lack of competence and lack of political independence.  There is no shortage of tough challenges,  but that does not justify applying counterproductive tactics.

You respond by being responsible citizens.  Not by random acts of vandalism.

Thank you for reading.

3 comments:

  1. A rational response? On the internet? bwahahaha

    I completely agree with you, btw. I just don't think lecturing script kiddies will have much effect.

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  2. Well, turns out the script kiddies have escalated the effort ... by growing a brain. Rather than braindead DDoS they are now focused on "Operation Leakspin" :)

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  3. Well, apparently the DDoS is still on the table:

    "The war against censorship should be fought, not only by attacking businesses facilitating it..."

    Honestly though, most of the "cablegate" is a tempest in a teapot -- and Leakspin is trying to sensationalize this as much as anyone.

    Seriously, this is horrid "reporting": http://operationleakspin.org/saudi-youth-frolic-under-princely-protection

    And is anyone surprised that the rich in _any_ country flout the rules?

    Are they trying to imply that the US should have done something about this? Singling this out in one of their first posts is hardly a "revolutionary act" :-/

    The funny thing is this causal chain: reports like these drive foreign policy -> foreign policy is criticized for not being based on evidence -> reports are leaked -> contents of said reports are treated as truth by most of the world despite lack of evidence.

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