human rights

When most people think of the Great Firewall of China, they think of government censors black holing the comments of political dissidents or conversations related to the long list of topics the governing Communist Party finds disruptive to political harmony. But in testimony before Congress, the head of a U.S.-based technology industry group said that the censorship is also taking an economic toll on Western Internet firms, as China steers Chinese consumers away from Western Web based services including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and Foursquare and toward domestic competitors.

The recent wave of online actions by supporters and opponents of information leaking site Wikileaks has focused attention on the phenomenon of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. But a study published by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society this week concludes that there is no clear and easy defensive solution for many of the sites being targeted by DDoS attacks.

The current controversy regarding WikiLeaks and the attacks against the organizations that have opposed the group has sparked a large and complex conversation about the meanings of free speech, freedom of the press and online activism. As new as all of this may seem to some, this is by no means the first time these issues have been brought to the fore. The term “hacktivism”, which is being thrown around quite a bit in the current discussion, was first coined nearly 15 years ago by a member of the venerable Cult of the Dead Cow hacking think tank. Oxblood Ruffin, one of the cDc’s members, presented the following paper on the origins of hacktivism and what it is and is not at Yale Law School in 2004. It holds a lot of lessons that apply in the current climate of hyperbole and rhetoric.

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