eveline lubbers on Fri, 17 Dec 2010 13:53:11 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Economist on the ethics of denial of service (DDOS) attacks

>From yesterday's (great)live blog at the Guardian.co.uk


There is an interesting article on the Economist website about
the ethics of denial of service (DDOS) attacks, which were used
both against Wikileaks and by its supporters in the aftermath of
publication of the US embassy cables.

The Economist compares DDOS attacks with civil disobedience, against
British rule in India, or against segregation in America, likening
them to a mass sit-in, making entry to or exit from a building
impossible. But it adds:

In a free society the moral footing for peaceful lawbreaking must
be an individual's readiness to take the consequences, argue in
court and fight for a change in the law. Demonstrators therefore
deserve protection only if they are identifiable. Some countries (like
Germany) even prohibit protesters from wearing masks. Protesters
in cyberspace, by contrast, are usually anonymous and untraceable.
The furtive, nameless nature of DDOS attacks disqualifies them from
protection; their anonymous perpetrators look like cowardly hooligans,
not heroes. This applies to those attacking WikiLeaks too?a point
American politicians calling for reprisals against Julian Assange's
outfit should note. Posses and vigilantes, online and off, mete out
rough justice, at best. That is no substitute for the real thing.


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