Hacktivism 2.0

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Comparing Hacktivism 1.0 to Hacktivism 2.0

"Wikileaks marks the beginning of hacktivism 2.0. Wikileaks is first and foremost an infostructure provider, with the immense potential to empower mass-scale cyber-activism. Wikileaks offers three crucial factors through which the effectiveness of hacker attack can be merged with the ease and openness of mass actions. First, it offers a highly resistant, autonomous content distribution network, which so far has been able to survive even the most aggressive attacks against its infrastructure. Second, it has all the attention of the world, including key media organizations which participate in the verification and publication of the disclosed information. And what is the most important: it promises anonymity.

Hacktivism 1.0 was the activism of outsiders. Its organizing principle was to get outsiders into the territory of the other. Wikileaks, on the other hand, is an infostructure developed to be used by insiders. Its sole purpose is to help people get information out from an organization. Wikileaks shifts the source of potential threat from a few, dangerous hackers and a larger group of mostly harmless activists — both outsiders to an organization — to those who are on the inside. For mass protesters and cyber activists anonymity is a nice, but certainly not an essential feature. For insiders trying to smuggle information out, anonymity is a necessary condition for participation. Wikileaks has demonstrated that the access to such features can be democratized, made simple and user friendly. Easy anonymity also radically transforms who the activist may be. It turns a monolithic, crystal clear identity defined solely through opposition, into something more complex, multilayered, and hybrid by allowing the cultivation of multiple identities, multiple loyalties. It allows those to enter the activist scene who do not want to define themselves – at least not publicly – as activist, radical or oppositional. The promise – or rather, the condition — of Wikileaks is that one can be on the inside and on the outside at the same time. Through anonymity the mutually exclusive categories of inside/outside, cooption/resistance, activism/passivity, power/subjection can be overridden and collapsed." (http://www.warsystems.hu/fokuszban/wikileaks-and-freedom-autonomy-and-sovereignty-in-the-cloud/)

Anonymous as Hacktivism 2.0

"There is, however, another, much more important Anonymous (Anonymous 2.0) in the Wikileaks story that needs to be discussed: those powerful individuals in privileged positions within the existing power structures, who now can safely subvert the very power structures that they define (and that define them). If Anonymous is to be feared, it is not because some rascals with short attention span download a crudely written software tool to attack websites, but because of those, for whom such anonymity lowers the costs of exposing and confronting power from within. Lowering the cost of safe opposition is exactly what Wikileaks is for.

Being Anonymous in the context of Wikileaks has a double function: it liberates the subject from the existing power structures, and in the same time it allows the exposure of these structures by opening up a space to confront them.

Anonymity offers the chance for the individual to – at least partially – remove herself from the pre-existing discursive determinations and power relations and consider alternatives. “If governmental rationalities operate through the nomination and specification of a positive identity through a series of constitutive exclusions, rarefactions and restrictions, then the practices of freedom are enabled by withholding the knowledge of oneself, resisting the injunction to a ‘confessional’ self-expression, declining the incitement to active participation in the governmentally sanctioned discourse. Anonymity may then serve ‘to encourage freedom by increasing the scope of actions not susceptible to official observation, records and interpretation’” (Prozorov 2007, citations ommitted). Anonymity is important because it liberates insiders.

Being Anonymous is an identity play, and as an identity play, it is a loyalty play. As an identifiable member of the society, the individual is bound by formal and informal attachments and hierarchies, the breaches of which are severely and instantly punished. Being Anonymous means that one’s identity and loyalty is up for grabs, it is fluid, it is independent, it is freed from it social base. Wikileaks, being the key anonymity-providing infostructure, supports new loyalties that are detached from the corrupted and failing national identities, the debilitating chorus of corporate anthems, historical determination and the normalizing judgment of Facebook peers. “People are asked to identify personally with organisations who can either no longer carry historical projects worthy of major sacrifices or expressly regard their employees as nothing but expendable, short−term resources. This […] creates the cognitive dissonance that justifies, perhaps even demands, the leaker to violate procedure and actively damage the organisation of which he, or she, has been at some point a well−acculturated member (this is the difference to the spy). This dissonance creates the motivational energy to move from the potential to the actual.” (Stalder 2010) When this happens, one’s ‘proper’ identity, one’s real name turns into a mere pseudonym that serves to hide one’s ‘real’ identity, one’s true loyalties." (http://www.warsystems.hu/fokuszban/wikileaks-and-freedom-autonomy-and-sovereignty-in-the-cloud/)

More Information

  1. Anonymous
  2. See our extended treatment at Hacktivism