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The Internet Security Your Rights Online

When Hacking Vigilantism Infringes On Free Speech (betanews.com) 229

An anonymous reader writes: I'm inclined to agree with the suggestion people make that the web is like the Wild West, but that's not to say we have reached the same conclusion for the same reasons. For me, the web — like the Wild West — is not a world filled with danger, but one occupied by vigilantes. As a proponent of free speech, I find this concerning. One of the most highly-lauded of vigilantes is the disparate group marching under the ragged banner of Anonymous.

One of its taglines is 'We Are Anonymous', a phrase that can be uttered by anyone, as there is no membership process — if you say you are part of Anonymous, you are part of Anonymous. The group is not, for the most part, organized. Individuals and factions can fight for or against whatever cause they want, just like real-world vigilante groups. But Anonymous is not alone. There are hacking collectives and other online crusaders who see fit to take the law into their own hands. This is might sound wonderful, but it's not necessarily a good thing. As New World Hackers demonstrate, attacks can target the wrong people and restrict free speech.

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When Hacking Vigilantism Infringes On Free Speech

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  • SJW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2016 @04:34PM (#51231691)

    You can say whatever you want as long I agree with it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I have never been effectively silenced by any SJW's. Are you a pussy or something?
      • Try saying things like supporting the Constitution, rule of law, personal responsibility, or quoting people like Virgil, Thomas Jefferson, or MLK in support of your arguments. You'll find out real fucking fast what everyone is talking about.
        • Re: SJW (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @10:15PM (#51232875)

          Try saying things like supporting the Constitution, rule of law, personal responsibility, or quoting people like Virgil, Thomas Jefferson, or MLK in support of your arguments.

          I have done all of those things, I have never been silenced by a SJW, and I get modded up far more often than I get modded down. You may not agree with everything the SJWs say, but they have a right to say it. Stop whining.

    • Outed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @05:01PM (#51231819)
      By using the term "SJW", you have outed yourself as someone who has had to deal with annoying, attention-seeking, dishonest, power-hungry, hypocritcal SJWs.
      • Uh, that's what SJW means. There isn't any other kind. You don't get to just tell people what words mean, using the definition that benefits your side. (Unless you're English Socialism from "1984" and you long ago exterminated your opposition.) It's a descriptive term, not proscriptive. Sadly, denying free speech to others while taking full advantage of it yourself is a hallmark of the SJW movement. It's like how conservatives favor low taxes or liberals support unions.
        • Social justice was a term invented in the mid 1800's. The ideas behind it go back centuries, with Saint Augustine and earlier. Anyone who fights for social justice at risk of their own safety would technically be a social justice warrior. Martin Luther King Jr or Rosa Parks. The Liberation Theology priests who were repressed by right wing governments. And so forth. Focusing this term on only those who talk about micro aggression is silly, especially the intense irrational anger it causes.

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by ganjadude ( 952775 )
            words evolve, and SJW is a term defining those people in todays world
            • And those who are ignorant of the past are doomed to repeat it, those dismissing it with "stuff evolves" doubly so.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              words evolve, and SJW is a term defining those people in todays world

              Indeed words do evolve. SJW is now a synonym for "miscellaneous things I hate on the intenet"/"big evil boogeyman" and has further evolved so that anyone using it without irony has readily identified themselves as a very, very silly person.

        • Uh, that's what SJW means.

          That's certainly not what it originally meant. The term "Social Justice Warrior" originally referred to a certain kind of Internet-only slacktivist who regurgitated half-understood academic soundbites on social media in return for brownie points [urbandictionary.com].

          Like "troll" (which was a perfectly useful term back in the Golden Age of Usenet), the word has completely lost its meaning in the last few years.

          • by Cloud K ( 125581 )

            >the word has completely lost its meaning in the last few years

            Seems so. The irony on UD there is that it talks about someone shouting at a feminist for saying they don't like the colour pink as it's too "prissy", yet most usage I've seen of SJW recently (e.g. from the gamergate crowd) has been synonymous with "militant feminist", which in a way seems like a contradiction.

            Frankly it's all too confusing to me. SJW seems to have evolved to mean "person I disagree with", pretty much - it's a quick label t

            • The problem is that listening to other people is mostly a waste of time, because so many peoples' views are just plain nuts.

              For instance, you mention "right winger" with scary-quotes. That's a real thing; just look at all the right-wing sites like breitbart.com and wnd.com. Listening to their views is a complete waste of time, because they all think that FEMA is building concentration camps and that martial law is going to be declared soon and we'll have a dictatorship. Many of them also think the Rapture

              • That's a real thing; just look at all the right-wing sites like breitbart.com and wnd.com.

                That isn't even close to all the right-wing sites. Breitbart's Alexa ranking is 232 in the United States and WND is 378. Disturbingly high, to be sure, but nowhere near the readership of the Wall Street Journal (122) or Forbes (75).

                • Oh please: yes, the readership of WSJ and Forbes are much higher (for good reason: people like me read Forbes, since it shows up on Google News and I don't immediately ignore it the way I do Breitbart, even though I keep in mind the source and its bias when I do read it).

                  However, the actual content of those sites is far less extreme than BB or WND. WSJ/F are somewhat right-wing, and in a mainstream corporatist way. BB/WND are extremist right-wing, in a conspiracy-theorist and fundie Christian way.

                  • My point is merely that there is such a thing as a mainstream right wing, and it's much, much bigger than the loony right-wing. Same goes for the left wing. And as you rightly point out, the mainstream partisan outlets are good enough that those who aren't in the party will still read it.

              • by Cloud K ( 125581 )

                Indeed, basically there are plenty of crazies on both sides.

                What's bothering me is that in recent years (say the past 5 or so) the politics of the internet - at least what I've seen of them - have become extremely polarised. More and more people are diving to those nutjob extreme ends of things (e.g. 'right' and 'left' to simplify) and in a way kind of waging war on each other. This leaves the centre, where much of the civil discussion and negotiation would happen, feeling a bit empty. If you try to medi

                • Yep, this same shit happens to me too. I'm either a right-wingnut or a leftist/communist depending on who's responding.

      • by Falos ( 2905315 )
        Incidentally, does your definition of what feminism today *is* differ from the exhibited standard, yet override it?

        Ironically, "Anonymous" is also a good example of fragmentation and conflicting stances, groups, messages, opinions, agendas, etc. all trying to squeeze under the same banner. For some reason we seem more compelled to try and steer the banner's meaning, rather than separate from it. Nevertheless bystanders will remain unaware of anyone that is working on, as they say, "taking it back".

        Int
      • By using the term "SJW", you have outed yourself as someone who has had to deal with annoying, attention-seeking, dishonest, power-hungry, hypocritcal SJWs.

        He's outed himself as a twat, more like. People who moan about "SJWs" usually do so after they've been called out for making blatantly misogynistic, racist or homophobic remarks.

        You are free to be a misogynistic, racist homophobe just like you are free to believe in a flat earth or pixies hovering over your head.

        It's just that people will know you're a twat.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      You can say what you want without criticism if you can make a factually accurate statement that doesn't rely on stereotypes or lazy racism to be true. If you can't get your message above those rather low standards, prepare to get called out on it. Some lazy opinion-fart blaming a disparate group of people for some perceived slight should be called out every single time - it does not help the discussion in general, and is frequently used by other people with axes to grind who also find it difficult to eluc

      • Some lazy opinion-fart blaming a disparate group of people for some perceived slight should be called out every single time

        FYI, that often exactly describes the SJW viewpoint. They blame white males for every perceived problem minorities and women face.

        I would not describe you as a SJW, SJWs are the types of people who would repeal the first amendment to stop people who don't agree with them from being able to speak.

        http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015... [foxnews.com]
        (if you don't like Fox, there are pleanty of sources: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com] )

  • There are a lot of groups that have no membership process. Like Christianity, Anonymous has different groups, and each of those groups will have a membership process.

    Now that you have identified the problem, which makes some sense, is there something we can do about it without sacrificing free speech?

    (Note to detractors about using Christianity as an example, find a single thing that is common among Christians without counter example - I can think of only one: people are/were involved).

    • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @04:44PM (#51231739)

      (Note to detractors about using Christianity as an example, find a single thing that is common among Christians without counter example - I can think of only one: people are/were involved).

      all divisions of Christianity believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

      • all divisions of Christianity believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

        You should hang out with more Unitarians, they have all kinds of beliefs. But here is a discussion of the resurrection of Christ was being a symbol, not actual [dbcuuc.org]. I once met a man who believed that Christ was an alien (based on the idea that Christ was able to overcome sexual temptation).

        • I once met a man who believed that Christ was an alien (based on the idea that Christ was able to overcome sexual temptation).

          I've heard a lot of justifications for failing to overcome sexual temptation, but that one pretty much takes the cake... and then drop-kicks that motherfucker. Some people can believe anything if it makes them feel better.

          • that one pretty much takes the cake... and then drop-kicks that motherfucker. Some people can believe anything if it makes them feel better.

            Yup. Instead, he should have set it to whip or chop IMO

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

          I will agree that loosely, there is no need to accept the physical resurrection to be a Christian, although you would have to have at least a symbolic acceptance of it. The resurrection is a pretty central part of the canon, and the alternatives to that were sidelined very early on.

          However, Christ himself was pretty specific about his submission to the will of the Jewish Creator. Whether or not he was God himself, he submitted to his "Father", and that particular entity accepts no other gods but himself.

          B

    • That's a really good characterization of Anonymous. Although anyone can be Anonymous, there are still certain types of people who join, and there are still subgroups within anonymous.
    • So then logically you are Christian and Anonymous, since there is no membership process. Or no one is Christian since there is no membership process.

      Part of the difficulty here is that Anonymous is less a group than a branding exercise. Any of these activities could also come from a group identifying themselves as the People's Front of Judea, yet they don't, as Anonymous has achieved a certain degree of celebrity and others seek to attach their pet cause to that celebrity.

      It is interesting to note how Anony

    • Yes but there will always be those who say "not a real Christian", "not a true Scotsman", etc. I suspect there are even some who say "not a real member of Anonymous but an infiltrator!"

    • There are two things here. Do you identify yourself (publicly or personally) as "Christian" -- or "Anonymous"? That's entirely up to you. The other is would other people identify you as "whatever"? If you do religious things and act out of religious feeling (as the world sees it), then the world might call you "Christian". (By their fruits you shall know them.) If you're an Anonymous hacker and you participate in their stuff and people know that you do it, then they'll say you're part of Anonymous. N

    • To be a Christian you have to be baptised, and believe in the divinity of Jesus. In Catholicism at least (the only one I can speak for), there is a class to teach people what it means to be a Catholic before they can be Baptised/First Communion/Confirmed into the Church. Part of the Confirmation ceremony is a declaration of beliefs. If you don't agree to these beliefs, you are not a Catholic.

      http://www.aboutcatholics.com/... [aboutcatholics.com]

      I can't find a listing of the questions, but they are questions of the belief in

    • by braindrainbahrain ( 874202 ) on Monday January 04, 2016 @01:12PM (#51235551)
      I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.
  • cause and effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @04:38PM (#51231707)

    when people disagree to an extreme and those in authority do nothing, you wind up with vigilantes. this is nothing new, it's simply "with a computer" which like with patents, doesn't make it novel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      Pretty much this.

      If the general consensus is not in balance with what the law provides, people will reach for vigilantism. Thus the law either has to represent the general consensus of the population or you have the firepower to oppress your whole population.

    • when people disagree to an extreme and those in authority do nothing, you wind up with vigilantes.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

  • Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liqu1d ( 4349325 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @04:38PM (#51231713)
    It's beautifully ironic that free speech is fine as long as you say what people want to hear. I don't like trump but he has every right to spew what he wants. You can't have a claim to free speech whilst simultaneously stifling someone else's.
    • It's beautifully ironic that free speech is fine as long as you say what people want to hear. I don't like trump but he has every right to spew what he wants. You can't have a claim to free speech whilst simultaneously stifling someone else's.

      It's a simple dynamic - free speech for me but not for thee; with apologies to Nate Hentoff

    • It's beautifully ironic that free speech is fine as long as you say what people want to hear.

      Sure. And people are fine with you expressing your emotions, too -- so long as it's never anything even remotely negative; you're supposed to be happy happy happy, all the time, or you're being 'rude' and 'taking it out on everyone else' or 'inconveniencing them' or whatever.

      I'm fine in one respect with Trump running his mouth the way he does: he's revealing his true nature to the world, and he's also bringing the racists and bigots and the worst that America has to offer out of the shadows, so now we know

      • What do you feel that Trump has said that wasn't fact? You do realise that the media is twisting his words pretty badly to try and paint him as a racist don't you?

  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @04:47PM (#51231751)

    I am shocked, shocked that vigilantism has problems.

    • It gets funny when you realize that vigilantes are what appears when the government is not doing its job. In this case, the government is apparently not seeing to it that Donald Trump is censored, so these good citizens are stepping up and doing it themselves. Hurrah to them...oh...wait a minute [tvtropes.org]
      • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @08:16PM (#51232563)

        > It gets funny when you realize that vigilantes are what appears when the government is not doing its job.

        It appears when government is not doing the job that at least some people want. This also includes government agents operating outside the law, the KKK, and corporations hiring private security to beat union protesters. Vigilantism occurs when the government is unwilling to follow someone's policy, whether that policy is law or not.

        It also includes most terrorists. The Taliban and ISIS themselves want Sharia law applied universally, and have killed many who refuse this religious law, despite the local government's clear rejection of murdering people for adultery or murdering women for speaking out for women's rights.

  • but everyone else can.
  • Although I'm not a fan of everything they do, I respect their political activism. I follow the "YourAnonNews" twitter feed and I find many stories of interest that do not show up in the mainstream media. Just as in the normal population, there are bad people among them. One thing's for sure though; no matter whose side you're on, it always makes for good entertainment.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Vigilantes exist because the law (both legislative and executive) has failed or is even used as a shield for crime. The internet is faced with huge amounts of corruption. Network providers inject data, record data, throttle data. They sell out their customers at any opportunity, and the law doesn't just fail to do anything about it, it even encourages that kind of behavior. Copyright monopolies are extended indefinitely, even though copying is the natural activity in a digital world. The government snoops o

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @05:46PM (#51231975)
    "All . . . will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect and to violate would be oppression." - Thomas Jefferson
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Sunday January 03, 2016 @06:01PM (#51232037) Journal

    Look, we all understand the desire to do something good.
    Particularly in the case of some perceived injustice - a rape victim is disregarded, for example.

    The problem is firstly that we don't have a universal definition of good.
    Missionaries bringing Christianity to the 'heathens' in Darkest Africa thought they were GENUINELY doing good - saving these people's souls, bringing them education, clothes, technology. The next time you start getting all righteous about doing something for someone else's best interest, understand that morally you are PRECISELY in the same position as that Missionary.

    The second problem of course is one of information. PARTICULARLY in the age of the internet, we tend to judge in the first few seconds, and then everything else we hear either validates that gut-judgement, or is discarded as "biased".
    That rape victim? What if she was, in fact, lying?

    We have a process for punishing wrongdoers, it's called the Law. It's absolutely not perfect, an in many ways it's outright broken. But THAT is where we need to spend our energy and efforts: fix that, and everything improves.

    • by Vokkyt ( 739289 )

      I agree with Uncle Styopa here, though I think you slightly miss the big issue with the Anon Vigilantism that I feel is different to it compared to other forms.

      As with all vigilantism, accountability is a major issue, not to hold them accountable for civil disobedience or breaking "unjust laws", but for collateral damage or unintended consequences. Vigilantism seems to be pretty romanticized in the comments here, but it often does and has a very major cost when the vigilantes get it completely wrong. We don

  • Anonymous isnt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by topham ( 32406 )

    Anonymous isn't really what people think it is. Yes, anyone can claim to be them, but they do occasionally have high level people deny actions taken by others. The biggest trick to anonymous is they let all the little guys take the fall while the upper echelon sites back and watches the show.

    They instigate the masses.

  • ..and in the end be wrong, than it is to stand for nothing at all -- and so it goes with these so-called 'vigilante' groups this guy is talking about.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday January 04, 2016 @03:09AM (#51233485)

    Anonymous threatens free speech? How about massively popular social media platforms like Facebook that censor comments and images while offering very little recourse to the subjects of censorship? Facebook, Twitter and other such media have become so pervasive that the old "if you don't like it, don't use it" defense doesn't really apply anymore.

    And how about the chilling effect of forcing people to use their real names if they're going to participate in discussions on-line? What happens to your job if your employer finds out your religion (or lack of it), sexuality, or political opinion differs significantly from theirs?

    Let's not forget the police and letter agencies, either. We're now at a point where one's location, travel history, and other metadata, financial records and literally everything said or done, or even looked at on-line is subject to their examination with little or no oversight. Think that might prevent people from speaking freely? (I mean "speak" in the broadest possible sense of the word, by the way).

    And how about the thuggish actions of various police forces during legal demonstrations over the last few years? Who can chance raising one's voice in public protest when the consequences might very well be employment-threatening injuries and perhaps a place on the No Fly List?

    Claiming Anonymous is a significant threat to free speech in an age when these and other more serious threats exist is like complaining about a pea-shooter during a firefight.

  • There is an old History professor's joke about the Anarchist Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.

    "They were great fighters, but suffered from a lack of organization."

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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