from the if-you-have-to-ask-what-a-valid-form-of-protest-is... dept
Slashdot points out that some members of Anonymous have set up a We the People petition on the White House's website, asking the government to recognize DDoS as a valid form of protest.
With the advance in internet techonology, comes new grounds for protesting. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), is not any form of hacking in any way. It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any "occupy" protest. Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time.(Random aside before I get into the larger discussion: you would think that people posting a petition to the White House would spend at least a little more time proofreading what they write, or getting more input before posting it. While the intent is clear, the typos and grammatical structure of the petition is atrocious.)
It seems unlikely that this petition will get the necessary 25,000 votes. Or that the White House will even care if it does. The problem, as always, is that much of this depends on where you sit as well as your knowledge of technology. You can make a reasonable argument for why a DDoS is just the modern equivalent of a sit-in. But you can also make a reasonable argument for why a DDoS is like hacking a site.
But here's the larger point: When you have to petition the government to get them to tell you what form of protest is "okay," you've probably already lost the battle. And that's part of the larger problem here. It seems clear to me that many of the DDoS attacks done by Anonymous are, quite clearly, done for the purpose of expression. They are trying to make a statement, and it sometimes works (though, it frequently backfires). I'm sympathetic to the claim that it's the modern equivalent of a sit-in, and find it troubling that the government is arguing it's something much, much worse. At the same time, I often think Anonymous' rush to DDoS undermines its larger efforts at times, and simply reinforces in the minds of some that Anonymous is made up of bratty, destructive kids. But, having to ask the government to say your form of expression is legitimate expression suggests that the government has already won.