Digital Sit-ins: DDOS is legitimate civil disobedience

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January 27, 2012 by Anonymous

Distributed denial of service (DDOS) is a favorite tactic of Anonymous. While the media likes to call DDOS a form of ‘hacking’, this is at best a technical misunderstanding. DDOS does no permanent damage and doesn’t involve breaking into servers or stealing data. Rather, it simply overwhelms a server with UDP traffic – the online equivalent of fans at a football game yelling so loud that the offensive line can’t hear the quarterback. This XKCD comic explains it best:

In the US, DDOS has been treated as a felony under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act punishable by a mandatory 10 years in prison. Given its similarity to long-accepted civil disobdience tactics such as sit-ins and blocking building entrances, this harsh penalty is outrageous and unfair.

Anonymous is not unanimous, and opinion on DDOS is perhaps more divided than any other tactic. Indeed, this very faction, in consultation with anti-ACTA NGOs, has been calling for a halt to DDOS for the last several days.

But after this photo of Polish politicians protesting ACTA went viral yesterday, it’s time we all re-evaluate the role & legitimacy of DDOS. These Parlimentarians were wearing Anonymous Guy Fawkes mask while the Parliament’s website was down due to DDOS by Anonymous. We can’t emphasize that point enough – this is a game-changer.

DDOS has been a remarkably effective tactic for bringing the world’s attention to injustice, from repression in Tunisia and Egypt to censorship by SOPA and ACTA. A symbolically rich response, DDOS says “If you silence us, we will silence you”. In that respect, it works.

But DDOS is a single tool in our arsenal of protest, not the only one. We need to engage in the mainstream political process as well – and for many of us, deeply frustrated by decades of corruption and unresponsiveness, this will require holding our nose. As events in Poland have shown, we have allies in unexpected places. There comes a time when we must use words to articulate our demands and desires, instead of UDP packets. There are still many lulz to be had- in the form of mass emails, fax blasts and overloaded telephone switchboards. We therefore call on Anonymous and all freedom loving Internauts to contact your politicians directly; we demand “No SOPA, No ACTA! Hands off the Internet!”

We’ll be publishing more actions you can take in coming days.

Europe

United States

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