| Thursday April 24th 2014

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Hackers are being radicalised by government policy


laptop keyboard lockI took a class on terrorism in college in 1999. One thing I remember from our instructor, who wrote fiction for “Soldier of Fortune” under a pseudonym, was that one of the goals of terrorism is to make the target government crack down with so much oppressive behavior that life gets intolerable and the citizens rise up in a glorious workers’ revolution.

LulzSec wasn’t an isolated or unique phenomenon. People with passionate beliefs have been using new technological tools to effect change out of a sense of powerlessness. In the last year, I’ve watched 38 Degrees using the strength of association online to change government policy, WikiLeaks force transparency on those who’d rather run from it, even the amorphous mass that is Anonymous taking a stand on whatever issue they feel deserves their attention.

These tools are now themselves under attack. Lord Mandelson’s last gift to us, the Digital Economy Act, is just one of a raft of “three strikes laws” worldwide that threaten to cut off households from the web. Buried in the coalition’s Prevent strategy is the assertion that “internet filtering across the public estate is essential“. Nor is it solely a British issue; Nicolas Sarkozy called for global online governance at the eG8 in his attempt to civilise the “wild west” of the web.


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