Hacktivism in its simplest form is the practice of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system and carrying out various disruptive actions as a means of achieving political or social goals. Basically hacking for the ‘greater good’. This is a very polarising issue in today’s society. Everyone you speak to will have different opinions on if it is ethical to break the law to expose government secrets.
“The N.S.A. has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.” – Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden is one of the most recent examples of breaking the law for the greater good. He worked for the NSA as a system administrator until 2013 when he leaked NSA documents to media outlets worldwide. These documents detailed the extensive surveillance network run by the NSA in conjunction with their partners in Australia, UK and Canada. The documents revealed a program called XKeyscore, an analytical tool that allows for the collection of “almost anything done on the internet”. The NSA was monitoring phone calls, hacking email accounts, using location services on mobile phones, tracking cookies and even creating characters in online games such as World of Warcraft to monitor ‘potential threats’.
Snowden is seen by many as a hero for exposing the extent of the surveillance network used by the NSA but in the eyes of the law he is a criminal. Snowden was charged with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” but is still currently free living in Russia.
I believe that what Snowden did was a public service and his actions are completely justified. I can see why the U.S would be pressing charges but I sincerely hope nothing ever comes of them. The NSA surveillance techniques exposed by Snowden are shining example of why hacktivism is necessary.