Image Source: KQED
Hacktivism is now a subculture phenomenon especially recently in regards to Wikileaks. Julian Assange started up Wikileaks under the pretence of ‘freedom of information’. Wikileaks aim was to leak classified Government documents and leak them to the public. Assange believed individuals had a right to know what their Governments were doing, for example he felt it was a civilians right to know about Project B (Khatchadourian 2010). Project B was the code name for the 30 minute long video from an Apache military helicopter cockpit in Iraq showing American soldiers killing innocent individuals (Khatchadourian 2010). Footage like this perhaps should be made public to make the American Army accountable for their actions against un-armed civilians. But what about the secret documents that have been accessed and released? What implications could this have?
Firstly the main implication is terrorists having access to these secure documents, clearly posing a threat to national security. As Street (2011 p.264) states, “terrorists too take advantage of the possibilities created by the new media”, Street refers to the new media as all new online publications such as Wikileaks, Streets statement provides strong argument that if others are taking advantage of looking at documents posted by Wikileaks why wouldn’t terrorists? Though a significant difference between the average individual viewing these documents and a terrorist is that a terrorist might be able to use this information to formulate an attack, thus, I believe Wikileaks could be viewed as breaching a nation’s security. However, on the other side of the spectrum this aids in a democratic society informing citizens, which is what makes a democratic society work to its full potential, as citizens would be able to make informed decisions. Wikileaks not only provides a space for public debate but also informs citizens on the actions of their Governments. Thus, it can be argued that Wikileaks presents a democratic society.
Of-course there are other types of hackers such as the group known as Anonymous and general hackers which are aiming to steal individuals bank details to use maliciously. These are the hackers which I have a clear stance on, I find these hackers to be criminals and unethical. Contrast this to Wikileaks I am in two minds due to my reasons above. Wikileaks is not a straightforward hacktivism it is; freedom of information activism verging on breaching multiple countries national security.
Thus, where should we draw the line between freedom of speech and hacking that can potentially endanger national security?
Street, J 2011, Mass Media, Politics and Democracy, Palgrave and Macmillian, Hampshire United Kingdom.