Censorship | Commerce | Governance | Participation | Security | youth

WikiLeaks and InfoYouth

Big government collaborates with big business to deny service to WikiLeaks, everyday people get organized and deny those big businesses the ability to offer services . . . and a 16 year-old Dutch kid gets arrested?

From Bloomberg News:

… a 16- year-old was arrested in the Netherlands in connection with the digital attacks on the MasterCard website and Ebay’s PayPal business. The teenager, whose name wasn’t released, is suspected of being in a larger group of hackers that sympathizes with the work of WikiLeaks, and he will appear before a magistrate in Rotterdam tomorrow …

To recap: a large, loosely affiliated, intentionally disorganized, and geographically dispersed group of people wage distributed denial-of-service (or DDoS) attacks (see Operation Payback) on PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa, because these organizations bowed to government pressure and denied their services to WikiLeaks. A DDoS attack is the informational equivalent of mass non-violent civil resistance and while DDoS may violate terms of use policies or other protocols, it is unclear that participating in them constitutes a crime.

The typical goal of a DDoS attack is to shutdown an internet site or service by coordinating a large and loosely connected group of people to overwhelm the site or service with unusually high web traffic. Thus, at the individual level, people are repeatedly “visiting” and encouraging others to repeatedly “visit” a site until that site becomes overwhelmed and crashes. As Robert Gourley, former cyber-security expert with the Defense Intelligence Agency, states in the same Bloomberg article “At an individual level a person is pushing a button and sending a packet … I don’t know what legal precedents there would be that allows you to take a person to court for doing this.”

Is participating in a DDoS attack wrong? Maybe.

Is participating in a DDoS attack a crime? Unlikely.

Arresting a teen for participating in a DDoS attack? Red Herring.