This post will encompass a few things, primarily Anonymous and their Operation Last Resort, but also a distinction I would like to make between hacking and DDOS-ing.
First, what is the difference between hacking and DDOS-ing? Hacking is when a hacker, whether for good or bad intent, finds a vulnerability in a website’s code and then exploits it to do any number of things, including injecting malicious code into the site, stealing information (credit card numbers, phone numbers, email addresses), or taking control of the site to shut it down semi-permanently. A DDOS attack is where a large number of computers, usually making up a botnet, are all sent to the same site at the same time, and the site is overwhelmed by the web traffic that no one can get access to the site. This is currently considered illegal, but if you want more information on how Anonymous is challenging that illegality, read this article.
Now that this distinction has been made, Anonymous hacked the website of the US Sentencing Commission and used it to distribute encrypted government files that have been obtained over months of hacking. However, the hacker collective stated that they wouldn’t release the encryption keys if the government made sweeping legislation on sentencing reform. This hack is symbolic because the US Sentencing Commission is the organization that sentenced Aaron Swartz to a possible 50 year prison term. Anonymous is blaming his suicide on the fact that he was facing such a long prison term, and is taking this blame out directly on the government. They are urging for a “return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused” in addition to a change in minimum sentencing standards. If the Department of Justice is unable to comply with these demands, what kinds of files could Anonymous be leaking?
Obviously, the government says this action is illegal, but what about whether it is morally right or wrong? The utilitarian views are too difficult to calculate since there are so many unknowns about what kind of files have been hacked, and who they might apply to. Kantianism would say that this act is morally wrong because the maxim would be that it is good to hack everyone else, which is obviously not true.
I personally like their form of vigilante justice but that’s just me, what do you guys think?