2600 Magazine condemns DDoS attacks against Wikileaks censors

2600: The Hacker Quarterly, has published a public statement opposing the Anonymous denial-of-service attacks on the services that abetted the censorship of Wikileaks. 2600's position is that the inexcusable moral cowardice of Visa and Mastercard and PayPal, etc, do not justify the use of brute force. Additionally, 2600 says that DDoS attacks are tactically unsound, as they create sympathy for these companies, and are used as a pretense for more attacks on Internet freedom. Finally, 2600 wants to strong disassociate "hackers" from people who merely run a piece of push-button DoS software, and to ensure that the security specialists, experimenters, hobbyists and others who make up its community are not unfairly associated with the DDoS attacks.

The assault on Wikileaks must not be overshadowed by the recent denial of service attacks and these certainly must not be allowed to be associated with the hacker community. This will play right into the hands of those who wish to paint us all as threats and clamp down on freedom of speech and impose all kinds of new restrictions on the Internet, not to mention the fact that the exact same types of attacks can be used on "us" as well as "them." (Interestingly, it was only a week ago that "hackers" were blamed for denial of service attacks on Wikileaks itself. That tactic was ineffectual then as well.) Most importantly, these attacks are turning attention away from what is going on with Wikileaks. This fight is not about a bunch of people attacking websites, yet that is what is in the headlines now. It certainly does not help Wikileaks to be associated with such immature and boorish activities any more than it helps the hacker community. From what we have been hearing over the
past 24 hours, this is a viewpoint shared by a great many of us. By uniting our voices, speaking out against this sort of action, and correcting every media account we see and hear that associates hackers with these attacks, we stand a good chance of educating the public, rather than enflaming their fears and assumptions.

There are a number of positive steps people – both inside and outside of the hacker community – can take to support Wikileaks and help spread information. Boycotts of companies that are trying to shut Wikileaks down can be very effective and will not win them any sympathy, as the current attacks on their websites are unfortunately doing. Mirroring Wikileaks is another excellent method of keeping the flow of information free. Communicating with friends, family, classes, workplaces, etc. is not only a way of getting the word out, but will also help to sharpen your skills in standing up for what you believe in. This is never accomplished when all one tries to do is silence one's opponent. That has not been, and never should be, the hacker way of dealing with a problem.

2600 Magazine has been publishing news, tutorials, and commentary by, about, and for the hacker community since 1984. We were sued in 2000 by the Motion Picture Association of America for linking to a website containing source code enabling Linux machines to play DVDs and thus became the first test case of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a similar vein, we are supporting Wikileaks by linking to their existing website through wikileaks.2600.com. We've already changed where this address points to twice as Wikileaks sites have been taken down, and will continue to ensure that this link always manages to get to wherever Wikileaks happens to be. We hope people follow that link and support the existence of Wikileaks through whatever method is being publicized on their site.

I recognize that "Anonymous" isn't an organization or even a group — it's a "meme," which is to say, some people put out a call to action, and others take them up on it (or don't), and that is how "Anonymous" makes its decision. But many of us understand "Anonymous" to mean "that subset of /b/ readers and others who are, at this moment, participating in one action or another." It's tedious to have to write out this full epithet, and what's more, it's not as if Anonymous is the first phenomenon to be loosely structured — after all, the "peace movement" or "environmental movement" had lots of different members who dissented on strategy, tactics, goals and commitments, and undertook many actions with support of different levels and intensity (including provocateurs, fellow travellers, and bystanders who got swept up along the way). But there was and is a "peace movement" and an "environmental movement" and it's not inaccurate to say, "Environmentalists oppose such-and-such," because anyone who has paid any attention knows that this means, "some environmentalists oppose such-and-such, others don't, some have no opinion, and there are no formal membership requirements for the 'environmental movement'."

I can't see any point in the pedantic nitpicking about whether anyone can meaningfully discuss "Anonymous." There are people who sometimes call themselves Anonymous. They come together to do stuff, sometimes. Insisting on this formulation "Some anonymous people who have answered an anonymous call to action and are presently operating under the Anonymous banner," every time someone mentions Anonymous is just dumb.

(Thanks, Emmanuel!)