Insurgent Technology

The current issue of 2600: Hacker Quarterly (Spring 2012, 58), carries an article (by Piyter Hurd) that links the Occupy movement and related hacking conventions to efforts that some might consider more subversive than enabling. Certainly, this is not unexpected, however one-sided. Of some interest is a reference to an apparent general action on 1 May 2012 (strikeeverywhere.net/call). The language and general tenor of the appeal is interesting:

“While a grand gesture, this May can be seen as one of many gestures running in parallel, tearing at the seams of all limitation and authoritarian forms…The potentiality is everywhere for using this knowledge and wielding new technological foundations to dismantle old limits and to make…new environments that resist control and reinforce the ethos of play and possibility…”.

Clearly, this may be a new effort to capture the aims of Occupy with those of more insurgent elements of the hacker community. Indeed, we have seen this effort before, and will again. It not only evidences a lack of understanding about Occupy objectives, but opens the movement to another type of undeserved criticism as an insurgent movement. The focus of the article appears to be domestically based, but the appeal is broad enough to include other countries, considering its frequent references to WikiLeaks. The introduction of Gustav Landauer is indicative of a troubling theme and one of its primary advocate, Julian Assange: “…We are the state and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men.” This type of language fits the State Department’s Internet Freedom initiative. However, it may not exactly fit neatly into the American political environment. I guess when we’re using internet insurgent technologies in the name of democracy aborad, it’s “OK”.

When I was a development officer at the Commerce Dept., I came across a group that not only did not recognize the US Government, but also was arming insurgent groups in the USA! It was frightening to evenone in the agency; and, no one seemed to know how to respond. Their effort to illegally transfer funds from the Office of Public Debt nearly worked. I’ll never know why they considered me a confident! However, their user ID and passwords did work for transfers from at least one major Federal account! That is, it worked until I asked PBD to shut down access. The group went quickly from Insurgent to Domestic Terrorist.

However, the language of this latest 2600 article is a familiar theme from my exchange. I worry that the association could be damaging to Occupy objectives! Perhaps a rebuttal?

The magazine, 2600: Hacker Quarterly has, in the past, been the subject of various federal enforcement efforts; and, it regularly features letters from incarcerated persons who have been convicted of cyber crime. Fortunately, the magazine is protected; and, it will probably escape SOPA, PIPA, ACTA liability because it is basically print media. However, it is sometimes frightening to think that free speech is monitored even in the USA! Were this Iran, Russia, China, etc. we might not be surprised.

In the interim, it is important to be sure that we are mindful of this effort to “capture” Occupy to accomplish a broader mandate which some might find troubling, offensive, or even illegal with the advent of new legislation that attempts to erode free speech! This is, however, the first article that has targeted Occupy.

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