Today’s newspaper carried a story (Online political hacker group hits Boston police websites) about Boston Police websites being hacked by the group Anonymous in retaliation for the cops arresting a hundred or so “Occupy Boston” protesters earlier this month. Apparently, Anonymous has been hitting police sites in other cities as well.
The story got me thinking about which group and which method of protest would ultimately be more effective.
The Occupiers certainly have made a lot of noise and garnered a lot of press. They remind me of the nationwide anti-war, anti-business, anti-everything but sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll protests of my youth, way, way back in the 60’s and 70’s.
The truth is, the anti-war protests did little to nothing to actually end the war. They went on for fourteen years and could have gone on for fourteen more if Nixon had not decided it made more political sense to leave than to stay in Southeast Asia.
Some will say all the protesting engendered real change in America, but I would argue that it was the protesters growing up and gaining political and social power that effected the changes. And let’s not forget that many of the long-haired, pot-smoking, peace-sign-wearing protesters grew up to embrace the establishment once they matured and married and started families and realized money does not, in fact, grow on trees unless you’re a farmer.
Which brings me to Anonymous. They are one group who are very good at their form of protest. They do more than make noise, they “out” those they consider to be the bad guys.
I’m not passing judgement on whether what they do is right or wrong, but either way, I have to wonder what might happen if there were dozens or hundreds of such groups?
Would a thousand groups like Anonymous make things better or worse?
Would the Internet fall to anarchy?
Would it become as tightly controlled world-wide as it is in China or North Korea?
If it did, would the hacker groups move from releasing information to more destructive forms of hacking in response?
I don’t have any answers, only questions. But I’d very much like to know what you folks think.