If The Gov't Wants To Stop Hactivists, It Should Look At Its Policy Choices First

from the the-right-way-and-the-wrong-way dept

As law enforcement continue to try to chase down every lead to figure out who was behind LulzSec, a bit of wisdom from Loz Kaye in the UK. He notes that efforts like LulzSec, Wikileaks, Anonymous and others are being driven by bad government policies, in which governments look to clamp down on free speech and shut down technologies they don't understand, just because some people might use them for things the government doesn't like. The end effect is actually driving more people to demonstrate just what the technology can be used for in protest.

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.

I don't think very many people in the government recognize this simple fact. They continue to treat these web-native movements as if they can be dealt with in the same manner as criminal operations. They may arrest a few people here or there, but that's not going to have the desired impact. If anything, it's only going to drive even more people to join the fray.
We've reached a critical juncture: either we sail headlong into escalating confrontation, or we attempt to change tack and reduce the tension by finding a democratic way forward, one that preserves our right to free association. From anonymous bloggers in Iran, to those using Twitter and Facebook in Tahrir Square and even teenagers in the bedrooms of Essex, there is a common thread. A feeling of persecution and dismay that our freedoms are being suppressed.
Of course, I can't see any government today smart enough to recognize this. It seems that they're going to continue down this path that they've chosen, and then act surprised when it fails to have much of an impact, other than to escalate the problems.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    johnjac (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 4:36am

    but... but...

    but... but... hackers

     

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  2.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 4:41am

    Re: but... but...

    And... and... the children.

     

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  3.  
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    Kevin (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 4:48am

    I wonder...

    Me: "Will the government realize the folly of its actions and try to promote more useful policies that generate less resentment and protest?"

    ** shakes Magic 8 Ball **

    8 Ball: "Reply Hazy. See 'War on Drugs' or Ask Again Later."

     

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  4.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 4:53am

    Every government needs enemies to justify its "enforcement".

    When such enemies don't exist, they're easy to create, and are then used to scare the populace with menaces everywhere. So look under your bed and check that al-Qaeda isn't about to jump out and grab you, then reckon up all the liberties that you've given up from sheer fear.

    A couple dozen guys from a cave in Afghanistan didn't outwit all of NORAD so that the plane weren't intercepted, or make a modern steel building that wasn't even hit by a plane just fall down.

     

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  5.  
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    abc gum, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:01am

    "Of course, I can't see any government today smart enough to recognize this. It seems that they're going to continue down this path that they've chosen, and then act surprised when it fails to have much of an impact, other than to escalate the problems. "

    And this is because governments and influential organizations are populated with people so out of touch with the realities of the world that they are seemingly clueless. How can one govern that which they do not even attempt to understand?

    Draconian measures are negative incentives and therefore are doomed to failure. The hypocrisy is not even funny any more, they demand respect and yet give none. Their motto is, take what you can - give nothing back, and yet they call their customers pirates.

     

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  6.  
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    abc gum, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:06am

    Re: Every government needs enemies to justify its "enforcement".

    The truther hypothesis has been debunked several times.

     

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  7.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:12am

    we're much further down that road, mike

    When we have gotten to "we will bomb a country that a hacker's IP may be associated with" (which we already have), I think that they will only start to actually do this.

     

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  8.  
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    Wasim, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:20am

    I've made a post which relates to the general approach toward cybercrime (click name for shameless blog promotion).

    The idea of Government policy driving such actions and the psychology is ignored and the finer points get lost amongst the desire to clamp down and cyberwar rhetoric.

     

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  9.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:36am

    Re: but... but...

    But, bu, bu... think of the terrorists!

     

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  10.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:37am

    If the King wants to stop American colonies from revolting . . .

    He should look at his policy choices first.

     

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  11.  
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    A Guy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:39am

    This should be better than the war on drugs. No one will rob you for money to download a movie. No one will show up in an emergency room suffering from Pink Floyd withdrawal. The moralistic arguments will fall mostly flat when the offending material is a Mortal Kombat video game.

    I am cautiously optimistic about how we will move forward. Granted, legacy stakeholders and those stuck in the past will fight just as hard as they always do. However, it is very clear that this is free speech vs copyright law. I don't agree with several recent supreme court decisions, but if money is speech and interactive disemboweling games are speech, then a lot of online activism will probably end up being protected speech too.

    Just don't get caught breaking into others servers to take the information and you will probably be fine.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:40am

    What happens if the children start hacking?

     

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  13.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    Then they are not human anymore and become LuLz, the scourge of the earth.

    There is a certain irony in sending children to jail to protect the children :)

     

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  14.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Re:

    Also the next time you see a big wig trying to say it is for the children just remind them that they prosecuted and jailed children in the name of profits.

     

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  15.  
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    Liz, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Re:

    No one will show up in an emergency room suffering from Pink Floyd withdrawal.


    Unfortunately the CDC still reports cases of Disco Fever popping up here and there.

     

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  16.  
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    Bryan Williams, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 5:58am

    burn these creeps down

    ...are being driven by bad government policies.

    One of the most incredibly stupid comments I've ever heard. "Criminal behavior being driven by bad government policies," imagine that. Could there possibly be a more irresponsible comment than that? I suppose rather than working to change government policy, the post-modern rationale here is just turn to criminal behavior. Brilliant!

    The do-gooders (hackers) rationale is always the same; we're doing things for the betterment of all Internet users. Lets call this argument what it really is (bullshit), find these freaks and get them out of society for a very very long time. There is absolutely no socially redeeming value in what they do, anymore than a thug who breaks into your home and wantonly steals your stuff is worth defending. No telling how much these people have stolen from the rest of us (for personal gain) and its rather disingenuous to defend the behavior, IMO.

     

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  17.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 6:20am

    Re: burn these creeps down

    Yes there is more irresponsible comments possible, the MAFIAA just keep making those everyday.

     

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  18.  
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    Alex, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 6:27am

    The fact you go for the whole "hacktivists are the criminal scum of society who steal from everybody" view kind of worries me. I guess you're the kind of person who thinks Anonymous is actually 1 group of people or even organised in the slightest, and all they do is hacktivism - clueless!

     

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  19.  
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    New Mexico Mark, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 6:30am

    Re: burn these creeps down

    Wow... So that's what it is like to live in a spaghetti western?

    I find that in the real world, the "bad guys / good guys" labels are a little harder to assign and generally have nothing to do with hat color or charisma.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Re: but... but...

    and... and... PIRATES!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 6:45am

    Mike, the accepted spelling of the term is 'hacktivist'

     

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  22.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Re: burn these creeps down

    "Criminal behavior being driven by bad government policies," imagine that.

    See: War on Drugs, Prostitution

    Government policy in both of those areas is the force that keeps alive the brutal, criminal cartels that we have today. Is it that far-fetched of an idea, really?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 7:11am

    Re: burn these creeps down

    I have to agree here. It seems like an incredibly convenient way to pass of hacktivism as some sort of good deed. It really isn't. Moreover, just like any situation, there are plenty of people who want to do bad things, hiding themselves in what some consider a positive movement.

    There is little to be gained by hacking, much of it is negative, and it encourages others to try. There isn't an upside here that I can see.

     

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  24.  
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    chuck, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: burn these creeps down

    ....and don't forget about Prohibition.
    No that didn't spur any "criminal" activities did it?

     

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  25.  
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    A Guy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: burn these creeps down

    I think improved transparency is one great benefit. It's not universally true, but I am very interested that law enforcement are warning each other about the dangers of people recording you with their phone. It's very telling about the state of this country and the people who are in charge of enforcing its laws.

     

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  26.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re:

    Increased cases of fever have been reported in hospitals across the nation.

    Fortunately, the cure is more cowbell.

     

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  27.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 8:15am

    Let me clear things up for you

    > it is very clear that this is free speech vs copyright law.
    > I don't agree with several recent supreme court decisions,
    > but if money is speech and interactive disemboweling games
    > are speech, then a lot of online activism will probably
    > end up being protected speech too.


    Let me clarify things:

    Money is speech.
    (Supreme Court.)

    Online activism is not protected speech.
    (Because it works against moneyed interests. See: Money is speech.)

    Violent disemboweling games are free speech.
    (Because money is involved. See: Money is speech.)

    Anything remotely sexual is obscene and must be age restricted.
    (Because if kids see it, they will do it.)

    Violence is not obscene, and is okay for kindergarten children.
    (Because if kids see it, they won't do it, nor will they be affected by it in any way.)

    Free speech is a quantity that can be measured.
    (See: Money is speech. Then look at your bank statement.)

    It is definitely NOT copyright vs. free speech. You are confused by the oldspeak definition of free speech.

    Money is speech. Speech should be copyrightable, otherwise you lose your free speech, which also means losing money. Pirates, Lulz and Anonymous are causing you to lose money, er, free speech -- which is protected by the 1st Amendment. The government is your private police force to protect your free speech or copyright, or both, so that you don't have to spend your own money to protect them. If you had to spend your own money, then you might no longer deserve eternal copyright and would quantifiably be losing free speech with each dollar you spend.
    (See: money is speech)



    I hope that clears it up for you.


    Money is Speech.
    Freedom is Slavery.
    Ignorance is Strength.
    War is Peace.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Re: If the King wants to stop American colonies from revolting . . .

    yeah? That's pretty much what Mike was saying isn't it?

     

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  29.  
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    A Guy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Re: Let me clear things up for you

    I sympathize with what you say. I really do. However, Lulz is free speech as long as you didn't get caught retrieving the information, or helping someone else retrieve it.

    After the information is made public, any Lulz, even epic Lulz is free speech.

     

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  30.  
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    cc (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Btw, Loz Kaye is leader of the UK Pirate Party.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 8:46am

    Re: burn these creeps down

    A hacker is usually someone who is experienced in being removed from society and therefore in many cases, social pariah. Also because of this removal from society they have only learned to express themselves socially by force through hacking.

    With this in mind do you REALLY think removing these people from society is going to do anything at all? Aside from reinforce their beliefs that the governments and corporations that they are attacking through their most fluent means, are unjust overlords that are issuing bad policies?

     

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  32.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: burn these creeps down

    There is little to be gained by hacking, much of it is negative, and it encourages others to try. There isn't an upside here that I can see.

    There is somethings that are gained from hactivism (which is different from hacking). Things like awareness and press coverage for issues that are normally buried by the mainstream press.

    Hactivism simply a modern day version of civil disobedience. And civil disobedience has gained us some pretty good things that are taken for granted in this day and age. Little things like: Civil rights for minorities, voting rights for women, etc. Even more recent, civil disobedience brought down a repressive regime in Egypt.

     

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  33.  
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    American A-hole, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: burn these creeps down

    A hacker is usually someone who is experienced in being removed from society and therefore in many cases, social pariah.
    I call bullshit. Take a look at the long history of hackers and hacker culture and stop using moronic talking points from ignorant assholes.

     

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  34.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Let me clear things up for you

    Nooooooo!

    Money is free speech!

    :-)

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: burn these creeps down

    "A hacker is usually someone who is experienced in being removed from society"

    Coming from an AC wishing to remove his identity from this forum, perhaps because he's a social pariah?

    "their beliefs that the governments and corporations ... are unjust overlords that are issuing bad policies?"

    I believe that the government and the corporations are unjust entities issuing corrupt policies. I don't think hacking is the way to solve this problem though.

     

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  36.  
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    kathrine134, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 11:56am

    though govt. is run by human beings and every human can do mistakes so we should take it as a hope to be corrected soon , thanks

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Let me clear things up for you

    In China people used to write on currency to spread messages around.

     

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  38.  
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    txpatriot, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    New meaning to kissing up

    @Mike: swinging on the hackers nutsack again -- maybe you think that by sucking up to them, that will keep them away?

    So how does your enlightened regard for hacker treatment of gov't websites explain hacker attacks on Sony and other non-gov't websites? It doesn't explain why they steal and then disclose the IDs and passwords of innocent customers that had nothing to do with those gov't policies you so abhor.

    And speaking of whores . . .

     

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  39.  
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    txpatriot, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Re: burn these creeps down

    Bryan, you're not following the script.

    The hackers ARE the heroes. If you don't believe it, just read a few more posts here and on ars defending everything they do. The only group that gets more love than hackers is pirates.

    You'll never get anywhere bashing either one so you might as well join the collective.

     

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  40.  
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    Raybone (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re: Every government needs enemies to justify its "enforcement".

    eh no it hasn't..actually the reverse is true.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQgVCj7q49o


    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=396 4499857359919664

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXw3jJ3021

    peer reviewed science journal detailing evidence of explosives found at WTC site...

    http://www.benthamscience.com/open/tocpj/articles/V002/7TOCPJ.htm

    Watch just these videos with an open and scientific mind and you will see undeniable evidence that the the official 911 story (which has been changed repeatedly to cover new physical and scientific evidence) is a lie...you will discover further evidence, including physical evidence, that suggests that, indeed, the 3 towers were brought down by explosives. The Popular Mechanics report, NIST, and the 911 Commission have all been thoroughly debunked.

     

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  41.  
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    monkyyy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 9:56pm

    Re:

    ummm they do, they are the low and medium level hackers, the high lvls are 20ish usually

    but most hackers would be kids

     

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  42.  
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    monkyyy, Jul 1st, 2011 @ 10:06pm

    " just because some people might use them for things the government doesn't like. The end effect is actually driving more people to demonstrate just what the technology can be used for in protest"

    i do not know how to do any hacking besides the basics of tool names and such, but if the government sets up any sort of censorship thing on china`s lvl i`d be happy to learn

    im sure i could always use a bump key to break into any system they set up and steal a hard drive if in a rush, but if not get password hashes w/o detection

     

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  43.  
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    ScytheNoire, Jul 2nd, 2011 @ 12:08am

    US Government started this war

    The US Government started this war when they first declared war on our freedom. The Patriot ACT was the first volley. Since then, they have only escalated their attack on the public, and continue to hurt the people they are suppose to work for and help. Instead of helping the people, they are trying to bankrupt them all while giving away the people's tax money's to the very corporations that are destroying America. Many great civilizations have fallen. The USA is next.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    anymouse (profile), Jul 5th, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: burn these creeps down

    Wait, are you talking about the hactivists, or the police who broke into my home and stole my computer claiming that someone in my general vicinity had used a computer to access 'potentially infringing material'?

    I'm still waiting for those dirty thieves to return my property.... now if only there was an internet savy group concerned about my rights.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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