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Ethics and Hacktivism Presentati

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					      Hacktivism: Right or Wrong


             Sergio Caltagirone             James Baillie, Ph.D.
                Graduate Student           Chair, Dept. of Philosophy
            University of Idaho            University of Portland



November 11, 2003            SFS Seminar Presentation
                            Format


                    • Short Introduction to Ethics
                    • Introduction to Hacktivism
                    • A Potential Framework
                    • Discussion of Hacktivism




November 11, 2003          SFS Seminar Presentation
                       Ethics
                    Introduction
• The 5 minute tour
     – Glosses over 2500 years of philosophical work
• Ethics: A system of principles and rules
  concerning duty; “what we ought to do”
• Duty: A task or action one is bound to
  perform (obligation)
• 2 Principles of Ethics
     – Any ethic or ethical position must satisfy these
November 11, 2003     SFS Seminar Presentation
                       Ethics
                Universality Principle
• Universality: if an ethic declares an action
  right or wrong given a situation, it must also
  declare the action right or wrong given
  another situation with similar circumstances




November 11, 2003     SFS Seminar Presentation
                         Ethics
                Justification Principle
• Justification: Any ethical determination
  must be justified by appeal to a general
  moral position (even though one may not be
  able to articulate that position)
     – Unacceptable justifications include:
           •   Appeal to Prejudice
           •   Appeal to Emotional Reaction
           •   Appeal to False Facts
           •   Appeal to Others (Parroting)

November 11, 2003           SFS Seminar Presentation
                     Ethics
            Theories for Hacktivism
• Although almost any theory can work for
  Hacktivism, we will focus on three that are
  most promising
     – Consequentialism
     – Deontology
     – Civil Disobedience (Rights/Justice Theories)



November 11, 2003    SFS Seminar Presentation
                    Consequentialism
                      Introduction
• A group of theories which determines the
  rightness or wrongness of an action in terms
  of their consequences
     – Act-Consequentialism
           • Assess potential outcomes of each case and act to
             produce the most good
     – Rule-Consequentialism
           • Derive the rules which typify actions based on their
             production of good

November 11, 2003          SFS Seminar Presentation
                     Deontology
                     Introduction
• There are several distinct duties
     – Personal duties (children, parents, friends)
     – Social duties (debtors, associations, jobs)
• Certain kinds of acts are intrinsically right and
  others are intrinsically wrong based on duties
     – Not in any way determined by its consequences
• Almost formalizes „The Golden Rule‟
     – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

November 11, 2003        SFS Seminar Presentation
                          Deontology
                            Kant
• Kant‟s Categorical Imperative
     – An action is right or wrong based on
       universalizing the maxim (rule of conduct) of
       the action
           • i.e. would bad things happen if everybody did it
           • Wrong if a logical contradiction occurs
                – Lying is wrong because if everybody did it, then over time
                  the term lying is meaningless because then there is no
                  distinction between truth and fiction


November 11, 2003             SFS Seminar Presentation
                    Applied Deontology
                    Spafford‟s Hacking
• Spafford argues that hacking is intrinsically wrong
  (except in extreme or rare cases)
• It is deontological because it would not be sensible
  or permissible if everybody did it
• Acknowledges that some instances of hacking
  would be preferable, but not ethical (i.e. not
  something we ought to do).
     – Hacking into medical records to get vital data to save
       somebody‟s life when no authorized user is available
November 11, 2003        SFS Seminar Presentation
                    Hacktivists‟ Claims
• Most hacktivists claim that their actions can
  be considered civil disobedience
• Therefore, they attempt to evoke the ethical
  justifications of civil disobedience
• But can they?



November 11, 2003        SFS Seminar Presentation
                    Civil Disobedience
                        Definition
• According to John Rawls in his historic
  1977 work, A Theory of Justice, he defines
  civil disobedience as “a public, nonviolent,
  conscientious yet political act contrary to
  the law usually done with the aim of
  bringing about a change in the law or
  policies of the government.”

November 11, 2003        SFS Seminar Presentation
           Civil Disobedience
     Justification to Break the Law
• This will only apply to democratic societies (or
  near democratic societies)
• An implicit contract (duty) when participating in
  the society to follow its laws
     – P. Singer
• We have a natural duty to follow just institutions
     – Rawls
• Therefore, any need to dismiss that duty (if any),
  must be extremely rare and well measured

November 11, 2003   SFS Seminar Presentation
        Civil Disobedience
Justification to Break the Law (2)
• Rawls gives these requirements for C.D.
     – The law or policy being objected to must be a clear and
       substantial injustice
           • Violating the natural rights of citizens
     – Must first try to eliminate injustice by lawful means
     – Cannot threaten the rule of law with the disobedience
     – The action must be controlled, not to provoke into
       unjust violence
     – The action should advance the ends addressed (not just
       to show off your morality)

November 11, 2003              SFS Seminar Presentation
                    Hacktivism
                    Definition
• An amalgamation of the words hacking and
  activism.

• The use of technology to publicly
  communicate or further a political cause
  through the unauthorized use and/or the
  disruption of a computer service.

November 11, 2003    SFS Seminar Presentation
           Examples
Zapatista Rebellion - Description
• First documented event of modern hacktivism
• In 1998 a DoS attack against the President of
  Mexico‟s website
• As Wired News reported, approximately 8,000
  hacktivists attempted to prevent any legitimate
  traffic to the site, or even crash the server. The
  purpose of this action was to protest and gain
  publicity for the alleged mistreatment of Zapatista
  rebels in Chiapas.
November 11, 2003   SFS Seminar Presentation
              Examples
    Zapatista Rebellion - Methods
• To do this, any person could go to a
  website, which downloaded an applet
  (FloodNet) and allowed the hacktivist to
  reload the webpage numerous times very
  quickly.
• Hacktivists from the U.S., Mexico, and
  many other nations participated

November 11, 2003   SFS Seminar Presentation
              Examples
    Zapatista Rebellion - Pentagon
• The Pentagon (another target in the attack)
  attacked back when it sensed the flood of web
  page requests.
• The Pentagon website redirected the hacktivists to
  another site, which included another FloodNet
  type program called HostileApplet.
• At that point, the HostileApplet program was
  downloaded onto the hacktivist‟s machine and
  caused it to be unresponsive until the machine was
  restarted.
November 11, 2003   SFS Seminar Presentation
                 Examples
        India and Nuclear Weapons
    In June of 1998, just months after the Zapatista
    act, hacktivists broke into top-secret Indian
    nuclear laboratory computer systems to protest
    live nuclear tests being performed by India.

    According to Wired News, the hacktivists broke
    into the Indian computer network at the Bhabha
    Atomic Research Centre in Bombay, copied some
    files and emails and then erased all of the data on
    the systems.
November 11, 2003    SFS Seminar Presentation
                   Examples
             Nike and Human Rights
• On July 19, 2000 Nike‟s primary corporate website
  (http://www.nike.com) was hijacked.
• Hijacking is a term used to describe when an unauthorized
  change is made which causes all of the traffic going to one
  site, actually go to another site.
• In this case, all of the traffic going to nike.com was being
  redirected to an Australian hacktivism organization‟s site
  (S-11). The S-11 site contained a political statement that
  urged protests of the World Economic Forum to focus
  attention on the alleged human rights violations of
  corporations.

November 11, 2003      SFS Seminar Presentation
                     Framework
                    Introduction
• The framework is designed to help
  determine whether an act of hacktivism is
  ethical or not
• Satisfying all of the criteria should be
  necessary, but not sufficient to render a case
  ethically justifiable
• Criteria is made up of numerous ethical
  theories

November 11, 2003    SFS Seminar Presentation
               Framework
       Case of Ethical Hacktivism?
• Say that a small group of technologically savvy
  persons are living in a totalitarian state, which
  restricts all information in and out of the state.
  Say that this group has obtained unequivocal proof
  that their government is practicing genocide. This
  group then defaces the government‟s website and
  places on it the proof they have of the atrocities
  for the purpose of alerting other nations to the
  genocide. The group could not have gotten this
  information out any other way.
November 11, 2003   SFS Seminar Presentation
                     Framework
                    Criterion (1-4)
1.     The individual or organization engaging in hacktivism
       must have first exhausted all other legal means of
       redress.
2.     The act of hacktivism must not harm innocents who are
       not involved in the accusation of unethical practices (this
       includes upstream providers)
3.     The participants of an act of hacktivism cannot remain
       anonymous (no proxies)
4.     The act of hacktivism must clearly advance the end
       addressed

November 11, 2003         SFS Seminar Presentation
                     Framework
                    Criterion (5-9)
5. The hacktivist must be ethically motivated.
   (must be able to morally justify their position)
6. The act of hacktivism must not cause
   unnecessary harm to the system being attacked
7. No personal profit.
8. Willingness to accept responsibility for the
   consequences of the action.
9. Unless in a non-democratic environment, action
   cannot threaten the rule-of-law

November 11, 2003      SFS Seminar Presentation
                    Discussion
• So, can we ethically justify hacktivism?
• Is hacktivism civil disobedience as claimed?
• Can we apply consequentialism or
  deontology to hacktivism?
• Were any of the examples of hacktivism
  ethical?


November 11, 2003    SFS Seminar Presentation

				
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