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Thread: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Cyber intrusions by government-backed Russian, Chinese, and North Korean hackers have made repeated news the last few years. So has the use of Israeli NSO Group ware to turn Apple devices into spy tools, in service to dictators, Saudi death squads, and similar criminal elements.

    Computer-savvy activists have recently expanded their efforts to infliltrate and expose far-right, militia, and neo-Nazi groups. If this is reckoned a crime when used against journalists, companies, and unwitting individuals, is it also a crime when directed at fringe organizations such as Oathkeepers and Sons of the Confederacy?

    What do you think?

    "Throughout 2021, websites associated with far-right extremist groups and extremist-friendly platforms and hosts have suffered from data leaks and breaches that have exposed the inner workings of far-right groups, and the nature of the movement as a whole.

    The data has been exfiltrated in breaches engineered by so-called 'ethical hackers”'– often assisted by poor security practices from website administrators – and by activists who have penetrated websites in search of data and information. Experts and activists say that attacks on their online infrastructure is likely to continue to disrupt and hamper far-right groups and individuals and makes unmasking their activities far more likely – often resulting in law enforcement attention or loss of employment.

    Numerous far-right groups have suffered catastrophic data breaches this year, in perhaps a reflection of a lack of technical expertise among such activists. Jim Salter, a systems administrator and tech journalist, said: 'Extremists, and extremist-friendly entities, have a noticeable shortage of even-tempered, thoughtful people doing even-tempered, thoughtful work at securing sites and managing personnel.'

    There are many examples. In the wake of the 6 January attacks, the Guardian reported on the leak from American Patriots III% website, which allowed the entire membership of the organization to be identified. In that case, poor website configuration had allowed savvy researchers to view and republish the information on the open web.

    In July, another organization affiliated with the Three Percenters, which monitoring organizations classify as an anti-government group or a component of the militia movement, had internal chats leaked which reportedly exhibited a “thirst for violence”.

    Then, in September, it emerged that the website of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers was comprehensively breached, with membership lists, emails and what appeared to be the entire content of their server suddenly put on public display.


    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...e_iOSApp_Other
    Last edited by Chip; November 29th, 2021 at 02:56 PM.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    I have no problem with hacking membership lists of voluntary social groups and making them public. It's like sneaking a picture at a party. It's the way it goes. You don't want to be outted as a member of a group, then don't join it.

    Hacking financial data, passwords, etc, is a whole different ballgame.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    I figure everyone is either doing it or can do it if they want.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    One distinction I'd make is whether the breached data is used in secret to observe, extort, detain, rob, incarcerate, or kill the victim of the intrusion.

    If it's posted for public access, period, that might prove embarrassing and perhaps damaging to the victim, while not necessarily showing criminal intent on the part of the hackers. If extracting and sharing "personal" data was a crime, then Zuckerberg would be behind bars.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Unethical. Doesn’t matter if the group is “extremist” or not, left or right, etc…
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    What if it's a neo-nazi group using its website to plan and coordinate attacks on mosques or synagogues?

    Are plans for criminal acts somehow privileged? The former president seems to think so.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    What if it's an eco-terrorist group planning an attack? What if it's Antifa planning a riot?

    Law enforcement's job. They're more than capable of hacking systems, and they already track that sort of thing.
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Are social group membership lists private and protected material by law?

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Are social group membership lists private and protected material by law?
    Is hacking illegal?
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Are social group membership lists private and protected material by law?
    Is hacking illegal?
    I dunno. "Hacking" does not seem specific enough for law. That's why I asked a more specific question.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) covers it. "Whitehat" hacking to expose system vulnerabilities is usually exempted.

    As long as a problem is framed ethically (like this thread), you end up discussing ethics. That's part of philosophy. Consequence based or duty based ethics, or moral relativism.

    I don't have a problem with joining a group (even with the intent to expose) - like investigative journalism. I don't have a problem with whistleblowers. I do have a problem with hacking - digital breaking and entering. I don't care who does it, or why. Maybe the security is pathetic (like the DNC servers), but that's just a form of victim blaming. If you have a poor lock on your house, is that an excuse for a burglar? What if he didn't steal anything? Just looked around and told people about your collection of Archie comic books in an old box in the basement (or insert some other silly reason one might be embarrassed...). Is that ok then?

    Not for me, but I lean to duty-based ethics. Kant. Categorical Imperatives. "Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law."
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Not having much use for philosophy as a formal discipline, I did a search and read a few articles. These two, both by right-leaning libertarians, were at the top of the list.

    Was Kant somehow responsible for the rise of Nazism? Smith explores two points of view on this issue.

    George H. Smith was formerly Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Humane Studies, a lecturer on American History for Cato Summer Seminars, and Executive Editor of Knowledge Products. Smith’s fourth and most recent book, The System of Liberty, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.

    "In The Ayn Rand Letter ( December 4, 1982), Rand said of Leonard Peikoff’s book, The Ominous Parallels (1982), that it “traces the philosophic sources of altruism, showing the unbroken line of development that led to the crucial modern turning point: Kant, and on to Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler.”

    Peikoff’s book was reviewed by the learned libertarian historian David Gordon in the September, 1982 issue of Inquiry Magazine. Gordon’s review is cleverly titled “The butcher of Königsberg?” because of the stress that Peikoff put on the alleged responsibility of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1802) for the later rise of Nazism. Kant lived a quiet, routine life in the town of Königsberg, where he taught at the university there. As the poet and essayist Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) amusingly said of Kant:

    'The history of the life of Immanuel Kant is hard to write, inasmuch as he had neither life nor history, for he lived a mechanically ordered, and abstract old bachelor life in a quiet retired street in Königsberg, an old town on the northeast border of Germany. I do not believe that the great clock of the cathedral there did its daily work more dispassionately and regularly than to its compatriot Immanuel Kant. Rising, coffee drinking, writing, reading college lectures, eating, walking, all had their fixed time, and the neighbors knew that it was exactly half past three when Immanuel Kant in his grey coat with his Manila cane in hand, left his house door and went to the lime tree avenue, which is still called, in his memory, the Philosopher’s Walk….'

    David Gordon was not kind to Peikoff’s attempt to trace the intellectual ancestry of Nazism. According to Gordon, “Peikoff distorts Kant at every point.” Kant was neither a skeptic nor a subjectivist. “On the contrary, he thought of his Critique of Pure Reason as answering David Hume’s skepticism. In particular, he attempted to explain causality in order to justify philosophically the achievements of Newton’s physics.”

    https://www.libertarianism.org/colum...el-kant-nazism

    Kant and Lying to the Murderer at the Door...One More Time: Kant's Legal Philosophy and Lies to Murderers and Nazis
    Helga Varden
    18 November 2010

    Introduction

    "Kant's example of lying to the murderer at the door has been a cherished source of scorn for thinkers with little sympathy for Kant's philosophy and a source of deep puzzlement for those more favorably inclined. The problem is that Kant seems to say that it is always wrong to lie—even to a murderer asking for the whereabouts of his victim—and that if one does lie and despite one's good intentions the lie leads to the murderer's capture of the victim, then the liar is partially responsible for the killing of the victim. If this is correct, then Kant's account seems not only to require us to respect the murderer more than the victim, but also that somehow we can be responsible for the consequences of another's wrongdoing. After World War II our spontaneous, negative reaction to this apparently absurd line of argument is made even starker by replacing the murderer at the door with a Nazi officer looking for Jews hidden in people's homes. Does Kant really mean to say that people hiding Jews in their homes should have told the truth to the Nazis, and that if they did lie, they became co-responsible for the heinous acts committed against those Jews who, like Anne Frank, were caught anyway? Because this is clearly what Kant argues, the critics continue, his discussion of lying to the murderer brings out the true, dark side not only of Kant's universalistic moral theory but also of Kant himself. We get the gloomy picture of a stubborn, old academic who refuses to see the inhumane consequences of his theory, and instead grotesquely defends the inhumane by turning it into an a priori, moral command.

    In this paper, I argue that Kant's discussion of lying to the murderer at the door has been seriously misinterpreted."


    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/...3.2010.01507.x
    Last edited by Chip; December 1st, 2021 at 02:20 PM.

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    You invoked "Godwin's Law"? That's funny. It's also a sure sign of desperation.

    Here's a link to make it easy for you

    Someone who doesn't "have much use for philosophy" asks an ethical question in an internet forum (maybe a good opener for a joke...).

    But your logical fallacy is: Guilt by association. An informal fallacy and a type of red herring.

    Thanks for playing.
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Are social group membership lists private and protected material by law?
    No one has addressed this question directly. I don't know the answer. Anyone know the yes/no to this?

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Are social group membership lists private and protected material by law?
    No one has addressed this question directly. I don't know the answer. Anyone know the yes/no to this?
    It depends. An example? How about a private Facebook group. Well, yes it is clearly "private". Is it protected material? Do you mean as in copyright? Probably not, but maybe. It depends on the content and if someone is invoking copyright privileges. Is it illegal to hack said site to see the list? Already answered. Yes. If a member of the group, and privy to the list; is it illegal to share that list? Probably not, but might violate an agreement and expose one to civil liability.
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    You invoked "Godwin's Law"? That's funny. It's also a sure sign of desperation.
    I know what it is, but didn't invoke it. Desperation? Guilt? You're reading that in. For the quotes, which I posted without further comment, thank the Cato Institute.

    I was hoping you might draw on your extensive knowledge of philosophy and statement of beliefs to offer some insight into the debate on Kant's writings.

    But, true to form, you responded with hysterical insults and accusations.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Ok Chip. You know what it is. It is the joke that every internet argument will invoke Hitler or Nazis. You invoked Nazis, but you didn’t invoke Godwin’s Law. Logical contradiction.

    You want to talk philosophy? Go take a 100 level philosophy class in principles of reasoning and get back to me. Right now I don’t think you would understand Kant.
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    Ok Chip. You know what it is. It is the joke that every internet argument will invoke Hitler or Nazis. You invoked Nazis, but you didn’t invoke Godwin’s Law. Logical contradiction.

    You want to talk philosophy? Go take a 100 level philosophy class in principles of reasoning and get back to me. Right now I don’t think you would understand Kant.
    You mentions this often, have you ever taken and passed a 100 level class???!

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    Chuck, who's the troll now?

    Tsk, tsk...
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hacktivism: Good, Bad, Ugly?

    In fact, I took two university courses in philosophy: an introduction/survey course and a senior honors class. I wasn't keen on the subject, compared to Anthropology and Linguistics.

    Godwin's Law is an internet meme sort of thing, frequently used by RWW trolls as an escape hatch. In fact, RWW types are just as prone to comparing their adversaries to Nazis (e.g. jack-booted thugs, etc). A recent example is the comment (on Fox News, of course) by Lara Logan that Dr. Anthony Fauci is as bad as the Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/media...le-comparison/

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