(Update/edit note, 12/15: If you, like me, tend not to read comments in general because they’re troll-fests, I suggest suspending your disbelief and reading the comments on this post. There’s an incredibly useful, thoughtful and productive discussion going on. With that, let me also say that I’m a tyrannical comment moderator and delete unproductive/trolling comments.)
(Note: There are so many parts to the Wikileaks story that it’s almost impossible to cover them all–once you start to detangle one angle, you discover twenty more. Slip down that rabbit hole, and you’ll come out dizzier than when you went in. In any case, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive discussion of the entire topic, but to expand on a conversation sparked yesterday.)
I attended Personal Democracy Forum’s symposium on Wikileaks yesterday–a fantastic lineup of speakers and attendees, gathered quickly to discuss one of the most complicated intersections of Internet and politics that we’ve seen in a while. During one of the earlier forums, my friend Noel Hidalgo put forth an idea that divided the room pretty quickly: that distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are a legitimate form of civil disobedience.
A quick lesson on DDoS for the unfamiliar: a group of people gets together and decides to render a website unusable. They do this by flooding the website’s server with so many requests that the server gets overloaded and either slows down, or stops responding altogether. A big important point: this is not hacking. “Hacking” generally applies to incidents where systems are actually broken into and data is compromised. DDoS doesn’t do this. Read more →