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
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.
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.
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.